ICS Calendar Title: Liberating Theologies: Talking about God in the Context of Social (In)Justice
ICS Course Code: ICSD-132001-W15
Instructor: Jeffrey Hocking
Term and Year: Winter 2015
Last Updated: March 23, 2015
This course will focus on the way our attention to the poor, oppressed, and marginalized
influences the way we talk about God. The content is practically focused, recognizing that
while not all are interested in the language used by academic theology, most desire to reflect on the ways that theological concepts influence social and economic relationships. This class will explore the way theological tenets and practical action meet in the face of poverty and inequality. This goal will be accomplished through interaction with the centering text, Leonardo Boff’s When Theology Listens to the Poor. Course readings will also include
contemporary works on the topic (listed below) as well as selections from the biblical
narrative. Together, these readings will challenge us to question how compassion, and mercy are demonstrated in our theologizing as well as in our ethical action.
Course Learning Goals:
Students will be able to:
a) critically reflect on how language for God correlates to ways in which we treat/view the marginalized members of society in order to participate intentionally with the communities in which they live and serve
b) recognize the influence of the Latin American religious community in order to locate the context in which liberation theology finds its most vocal advocates
c) identify important biblical texts that address the issues of poverty in order to respond to the realities of poverty with a measure of confidence in their knowledge of the sacred texts of the Judeo-Christian traditions
d) apply a deeper biblical and theological sensibility in order to execute practical action when encountering the marginalization and poverty
e) make explicit connections between the course themes/readings and lived experience in order to restate and discuss the relevant connections with the communities in which they serve
f) complete the course with a final paper/project based on their own research in order to develop their own critical and constructive understanding of the relationship between the aspirations of liberation movements, the realities of poverty and marginalization, and our language for God
1. Setting the Stage:
Luke 6:20-45, Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth (pgs. 185-188), Mev Puelo, The Struggle is One (pgs. 185-204), Robert Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1.
2. Lack and Abundance:
Ch. 1 from Sallie McFague, Life Abundant (pgs. 3-24), Ch. 3 Ronald Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (pgs. 41-66), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom,Chapter 2.
God-Talk: An Introduction to Contemporary Views
3. Does Theology Matter?: McFague (pgs. 25-37), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 3.
4. Eucharist and the Church as the Body of Christ: Craig Keen After Crucifixion (pgs. 34-65), William Cavanaugh Torture and the Eucharist (pgs. 222-235), and Rubem Alves, I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body, (pgs.11-14).
5: Jeff Astley, Exploring God-Talk, Chs. 1-3 (pgs. 1-35)
6: Astley, Chs. 4-6 (pgs. 36-78)
7: Astley, Chs. 7-10 (pgs. 79-130)
8. Paulo Freire’s Influence on Liberation Theology: Paulo Freire, Ch. 2 Pedagogy of the Oppressed (pgs. 71-86), Pedagogy of Hope (pgs. 17-19; 35-39), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 4.
Theology Listening to New Voices
9: Leonardo Boff, When Theology Listens to the Poor, Intro, Chs. 1-2 (pgs. ix-49), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 5.
10: Boff, Chs. 3 & 5 (pgs. 50-64 & 89-103), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 6.
11: Boff, Chs. 6-7 (pgs. 104-137), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 7.
12. Theopoetics:Rubem Alves, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet (pgs. 21-58), A Theology of Human Hope (pgs. 159-168), I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body (pgs. 29-36), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 8.
13. Considering select biblical texts: Wrestling in particular with the early church in Acts and Jesus’ recapitulation of Deut. 15 (the poor will always be with you), Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom, Chapter 9.
a) Total reading (1250 pages)
b) In-seminar participation
c) Course project: 3,000–4,000 words (MWS) on topic of student’s interest within the
purview of the course.
i. Class participation: 40 %
ii. Research Project/Paper: 60%
Astley, Jeff. Exploring God-Talk: Using Language in Religion. London: Darton,
Longman and Todd, 2004.
Alves, Rubem A. I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body. Philadelphia, Fortress Press,
________. The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet. London: SCM Press, 2OA2. (Selection)
________. A Theology of Human Hope. Washington, D.C.: Corpus Publications, 1959.
Boff, Leonardo. When Theology Listens to the Poor. Transtated by Robert R. Barr.
San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.
Cavanaugh, William T. Torture and the Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of
Christ. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998. (Selection)
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York:
Bloomsbury Academic, 2004. (Selection)
________. Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. New york: Continuum
International, 2010. (Selection)
Keen, Craig. After Crucifixion: The Promise of Theology. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books,
Lupton, Robert D. Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban
America. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011.
McFague, Sallie. Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril.
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. (Selection)
Sider, Ronald J. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to
Generosity. Nashville: W. Publishing Group, L997. (Selection)
Alves, Rubem. Protestantism and Repression: A Brazilian Case Study. Maryknoll, NY:
Astley, Jeff . Ordinary Theology: Looking, Listening and Learning in Theology.
Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2002.
Boff, Clodovis. Feet-on-the-Ground-Theology: A Brazilian Journey. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis
Boff, Leonardo. Introducing Liberation Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1987.
________. The Path to Hope: Fragments from a Theologian’s Journey. Maryknoll, NY:
Orbis Books, 1993.
________. Salvation and Liberation: In Search of a Balance Between Faith and Politics.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1984.
Brown, Robert McAfee. Gustavo Gutierrez: An Introduction to Liberation Theology.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990.
Batstone, David, et. al., eds. Liberation Theologies, Postmodernity, and the Americas.
New York: Routledge, 1997.
Gornik, Mark R. To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.
Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation. Maryknoll,
Ny: Orbis Books, L973.
McFague, Sallie. Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language.
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.
________. Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age. Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1982.
Rieger, Joerg. Opting for the Margins: Postmodernity and Liberation in Christian
Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible.
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