A Persistent Theology – Fall 2017

persistent 2017 reading group_header

Persistence is required in calling the church to name and acknowledge abuses of power in its theology and practice. We invite you to join this reading group addressing questions of power and authority in the Mennonite church as it relates to our desire for faithfulness in our experiences of gender, sexuality, race, and economics.

This series will begin with a public lecture followed by four discussion sessions based on selected readings.

All sessions including the public lectures will be held in the Multi-purpose Room (3rd floor) of First Mennonite Church (922 Notre Dame Ave) Wednesday evenings from 7:00-8:30pm.

Public Lecture – October 18 – 7pm
Can the Cross be ‘Good News’ for Women – Dr. Susanne Guenther Loewen (Co-pastor, Nutana Park Mennonite Church Saskatoon, SK)

Seminar Readings (click links for .pdfs)
Oct 25   – The Question of Authority in Mennonite Churches and Theology

David Driedger – “Negotiating Authority in the Mennonite Church
Kimberly Penner – “Sacred Yet Insufficient: The Use of Scripture as a Source in a Mennonite-Feminist Approach to Sexual Ethics” from Women Doing Theology conference Mennonite Church USA 2014.

Nov 1    – Naming the Violence of Church Process

Stephanie Krehbiel – “Krehbiel – Naming the Violence of Process” (Chapter Two of her dissertation Pacifist Battlegrounds: Violence, Community, and the Struggle for LGBTQ Justice in the Mennonite Church USA)

Nov 8    – Sexual Ethics and John Howard Yoder

Rachel Waltner Goossen – “Mennonite Bodies, Sexual Ethics: Women Challenge John Howard Yoder,” Journal of Mennonite Studies 34 (2016).
Lisa Schirch, “To the Next Generation of Pacifist Theologians,” (http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/to-the-next-generation-of-pacifist-theologians/)

Nov 15 – Revisiting Manitoba Mennonite Origin Stories

Joseph Wiebe – “Posture, Privilege, and Place: Mennonite Settlers and Metis in Manitoba,” Intotemak special edition Quest for Respect: The Church and Indigenous Spirituality
Benjamin Goossen – “Mennonite Fascism,” (https://anabaptisthistorians.org/2017/04/27/mennonite-fascism/)


Vincent Lloyd – The Problem with Grace

We will be starting our series reading through Vincent Lloyd’s The Problem with Grace. We will meet Fridays once a month from about noon – 2pm at The Katherine Friesen Centre (940 Notre Dame Ave).

Here is the proposed schedule.

1. January 15 – Introduction (available here as a pdf.)
2. February 19 – Chapters 1-3
3. March 18 – Chapters 4-5
4. April 8 – Chapters 4-8
5. May 6 – Conclusion and Appendix

Critical Conversations in 2015 – 2016

This year we will explore a new format and work through two books in the course of the year.
We will meet Fridays once a month from about noon – 2pm at The Katherine Friesen Centre (940 Notre Dame Ave).

This year we will read through Daniel Colucciello Barber’s On Diaspora: Christianity, Religion, and Secularity as well as Vincent Lloyd’s The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology.

I can provide a .pdf of the opening chapters of Barber’s work for those want to begin immediately (daviddriedger-at-mymts-dot-com).

Here is the current meeting schedule

Barber – On Diaspora (see here for previous online book event)
1. October 9 – Introduction and Chapter 1
2. November 6 – Chapters 2 & 3 (meeting at 11am)
3. December 11 – Chapters 4 & 5

Lloyd – The Problem with Grace (sections to be determined)
1. January 15
2. February 19
3. March 18
4. April 8
5. May 6 (if necessary)

CC in June – Decolonizing Epistemologies

This month we will be reading ”Mujerista Discourse: A Platform for Latinas’ Subjugated Knowledge” by Ada María Isasi-Díaz. This piece comes from a collection of essays entitled Decolonizing Epistemologies which she co-edited with Eduardo Mendieta. Melanie Kampen will be facilitating.

Mujerista Discourse: A Platform for Latinas’ Subjugated Knowledge [pdf]

This will likely be the last Critical Conversation of the summer. We will meeting Tuesday, June 16th at The Goodwill Social Club (625 Portage Ave) @ 8pm.

Critical Conversation in May – Divinanimality

This month we will read a chapter of the recently released Divinanimality: Animal Theory, Creaturely Theology. This book is a collection of essays from an earlier conference of the same name. From the publisher,

A turn to the animal is underway in the humanities, most obviously in such fields as philosophy, literary studies, cultural studies, and religious studies. One important catalyst for this development has been the remarkable body of animal theory issuing from such thinkers as Jacques Derrida and Donna Haraway. What might the resulting interdisciplinary field, commonly termed animality studies, mean for theology, biblical studies, and other cognate disciplines? Is it possible to move from animal theory to creaturely theology?

We will be reading the following chapter,

Devouring the Human: Digestion of a Corporeal Soteriology,” by Erika Murphy

We will be meeting Friday May 22 @ noon (Katherine Friesen Centre; 940 Notre Dame Ave).

CC at night in March – Agrama and Abu-Lughod (Update!)

** Update ** In light of our readings and an event (see info here) that was just brought to my attention we will now be meeting at McNally Robinsons for the event at 7pm. For anyone interested we will connect after the event to go for drinks or coffee.

Our second round of Critical Conversation at Night will engage two interventions in the convoluted project of Western attempts at understanding Islam.

Hussein Ali Agrama develops the thesis that secularism “incessantly blurs together religion and politics, and that its power relies crucially upon the precariousness of the categories it establishes.”
Secularism, Sovereighty, Indeterminacy: Is Egypt a Secular or a Religious State?” [pdf]

Lila Abu-Lughod explores the limitations and perversions of Western claims to be ‘saving’, particularly, women from oppression in Afghanistan.
Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others.” [pdf]

I do not assume any sort of continuity between these two pieces only that I hope they can illuminate models of understanding not represented in dominant Western media and culture.

We will meet March 12, 7:30pm @ The Goodwill Social Club (625 Portage Ave). (See updated info above)

CC in January – Prison and Policing (Rescheduled)

This month we will read a couple of texts to help orient a conversation on the current state of prisons and policing.

We will meet Friday January 16 January 30 noon @ The Katherine Friesen Centre (940 Notre Dame Ave).

The Wedding of Workfare and Prisonfare,” Social Justice vol 38 (2011).
The Gospel or a Glock? Mennonites and the Police,” The Conrad Grebel Review vol 25 (2007).

Josiah Neufeld will help facilitate our time. His own writing and research on the topic can be found here,

Feel free to come and share insights or texts that you have found helpful as this continues to be a pressing issue.