CGCM visiting researcher Jesudas Athyal’s edited book A Light to the Nations: The Indian Presence in the Ecumenical Movement in the Twentieth Century is now available.
There are a range of contributors in this volume, including Wesley Ariarajah (Former Director of WCC Interfaith department and Professor Emeritus of Ecumenical Theology at Drew University), Fr. K. M. George (Orthodox theologian), Preman Niles (Sri Lankan theologian) and Jayakiran Sebastian (Dean, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia).
World Council of Churches Publications makes this important book available, and it can be purchased at the American Academy of Religion conference in Atlanta, GA this year (WCC Publications booth 613), or through amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Light-
The CGCM hosted the conference on the theme of “African Christian Biography: Narratives, Beliefs, and Boundaries,” from Thursday, October 29 to Saturday, October 31. Approximately sixty scholars and graduate students converged on the School of Theology from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Great Britain, and various universities in the United States and Canada to present papers and discuss issues on the theme of African Christian Biography. As an intersection between scholars in religious studies and African studies, the conference was a venue for cross-fertilization between the various fields represented. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (DACB).
In the opening plenary, DACB Project Director Jonathan Bonk presented a brief historical overview by looking at the “What?, the Why?, the How?, and the Now What?” of the project. In the Friday morning plenary address, Prof. Lamin Sanneh of Yale University focused his talk on Sir Samuel Lewis whose extraordinary life illustrated the power of human example in the service of religion and society in 19th century West Africa. The afternoon plenary panel with noted scholars Kathleen Sheldon, Richard Elphick, and Diana Wylie addressed, among other questions, the challenge of the portrayal of belief in biography as well as the various uses of biography in historical writing. The dinner plenary by Boston University professor Linda Heywood offered an opportunity to explore the life of a notable 17th century Kongo figure, Queen Njinga.
In the concurrent sessions, questions raised either in the papers or in the subsequent discussion included the role of biography in pedagogy, orality and memory in biography, the use of photography and film in biography, and the use of biography for highlighting the stories of women the Global South. Almost a third of the papers examined the stories of African women, exploring their roles as helpers and leaders, most often unrecognized in the historical record. The discussions also looked at the role of biographers as portrait artists who must paint their subjects with humility and empathy.
In the closing session, the progress of the DACB was praised and many participants offered ideas and challenges for new developments in the future. Conference organizer Dana Robert offered a few words about the book that will be published as a fruit of the conference.
Review by Cathy Corman, CGCM Visiting Researcher
Those interested in the history of African Christianity may want to consider making a trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art before January 3, 2016, to tour Kongo: Power & Majesty. The exhibit focuses on the material culture of Central African peoples after contact with Portuguese Catholics in the late fifteenth century. Curators have done a terrific job showcasing the ways master craftspeople wove tapestries and caps, incorporated crucifixes into indigenous forms, carved female power figures to increase fertility during population decimation, and crafted male power figures to safeguard villages struggling to survive. It’s well worth paying $7 for the audio guide, which weaves together interesting background information and curators’ interesting analyses. The Met is also featuring two relevant photographic exhibits in its contemporary collection: In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa and The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ratcliffe’s Photographs of Angola and South Africa.
From October 29-31 the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, the African Studies Center and the African Studies Library at Boston University will be co-hosting the conference “African Christian Biography: Narratives, Beliefs, and Boundaries” in celebration of the 20th year anniversary of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (www.DACB.org).
This working conference will bring together more than 30 international academics whose specialties cover a broad spectrum of time periods and geographical areas in Africa. Coming from a wide variety of disciplines including history, anthropology, theology, women’s studies and African area studies, the speakers will present scholarly papers exploring the historiographical role of biography and its part in shaping our understanding of African Christianity.
Research Professor of Mission Studies, Boston University, Project Director, Dictionary of African Christian Biography.
African Church History and the Streetlight Effect: Biography as a Lost Key
Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity, Professor of History, Professor of International and Area Studies, Yale University.
Biography and the Narrative of History
Professor of African American Studies and History, Boston University.
Queen Njinga of Angola: Spirituality and Politics
For more details, the conference schedule, and registration information please go to http://www.dacb.org/acb-conference2015.html.
The Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) and the Pardee School invites all to an event Religions, Peace and Conflict: The Contributions of Interreligious Dialogue. The speakers are Patrice Brodeur, Director of Research at the KAICII Dialogue Center, and Karsten Lehmann, Head of Social Science and Statistics at KAICIID. It takes place on September 22, 5:00, 121 Bay State Rd. Dean’s Conference Room (1st Floor).
School of Theology and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Collaborate to Launch Digital Archive of motive Magazine
“The magazine, motive, challenged me beyond natural ability.”
Jeanne Audrey Powers
On September 16, Boston University School of Theology and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry will celebrate the launch of a website that digitizes motive magazine and makes it accessible to a new generation of scholars and leaders. motive magazine shaped a generation of young, passionate activists and leaders. The event will feature an art display beginning at 4:30 pm and a celebratory event at 5:00 pm, with a Readers’ Theater, presentation of the new website, and panelists.
motive was the official magazine for the Methodist Student Movement from its founding in 1941 and, for a few years at the end of its life, for the entire University Christian Movement (UCM). Much celebrated even at the time for its avant-garde editorial and artistic vision, in 1966 Time magazine said it stood out among church publications “like a miniskirt at a church social.” It was the single runner-up to Life as Magazine of the Year in 1965. Its strong stance on civil rights, Vietnam, and emerging gender issues were provocative at the time and the magazine ceased publication in 1972.
The Center for Global Christianity and Mission in collaboration with the School of Theology Library has made all of the issues available online and searchable. This event will mark the launch of the new resource on the Church, the student movement, and critical issues from the middle of the 20th century.
B.J. Stiles, former editor of motive magazine;
Frank Lloyd Dent, author of the dissertation motive magazine: Advocating the Arts and Empowering the Imagination in the Life of the Church; and
Tom Driver, contributor to motive magazine and retired professor at Union Theological Seminary.
- See more at: http://www.gbhem.org/article/boston-university-school-theology-and-general-board-higher-education-and-ministry-celebrate#sthash.1aMfSgM0.dpuf
Grace May, who graduated from the Boston University School of Theology in 2000, has been appointed as the Assistant Professor Biblical Studies at William Carey International University (WCIU) in Pasadena, CA. As of the 2015-2016 academic year, she will be teaching and mentoring doctoral students from around the world, primarily from the Global South. In keeping with the vision of the WCIU founder Ralph D. Winter, who initiated Theological Education by Extension, she will be teaching largely via internet, thus, allowing students to pursue their studies without disrupting their ongoing work for the Kingdom.
Attacks on Christians and other minorities has been on the rise in Pakistan. The country has also seen an increase in persecution and discrimination based on blasphemy laws. Why is religious intolerance on the rise, and what does this mean for religious freedom in one of the world’s most populous nations?
School of Theology alumnus Titus Presler was invited by The Daily Beast, the popular online news site, to write about threats to religious freedom in Pakistan in relation to the church-state struggle over Edwardes College and the attack he experienced last year in Peshawar. The article is “Why has Pakistan become so intolerant?” which you can read in full here.
Conference: Bartolomé de Las Casas: History, Philosophy, & Theology in the Age of European Expansion
As part of the 800th anniversary of the Order of Preachers as well as the 100th anniversary of Providence College (Providence, Rhode Island), the College invites interested scholars to the international conference, “Bartolomé de Las Casas, O.P. History, Philosophy, and Theology in the Age of European Expansion” (October 7-9, 2016). The conference solicits presentations or panels about the age of European expansion into the Atlantic World—Europe, Africa and America—as well as Asia. The event takes the opportunity to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first conversion of Bartolomé de las Casas (2014) and hopes to elicit scholarly reflection on the themes of contact, conquest, colonization, and conversion. Scholarly panels as well as special plenary sessions by leading scholars are planned. Papers in Spanish, Portuguese, and English are welcomed. Paper proposals of 250 words in Microsoft Word format should be sent to both Professor David Orique, O.P. and Professor Rady Roldán-Figueroa at Lascasasconference2016@gmail.com. Please submit proposals by October 15, 2015. More information and details will follow.
David T. Orique, O.P., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History
Director of the Latin American Studies Program
Rady Roldán-Figueroa, Th.D.
Associate Professor of the History of Christianity
For three years, Mary Lou Shea was a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Global Christianity & Mission. During that time, she devoted herself to uncovering the story of Hiram F. Reynolds, one of the first two General Superintendents in the Church of the Nazarene, and the architect of Nazarene missions around the world. The result of her work has recently been published as In Need of Your Prayers and Patience: The Life and Ministry of Hiram F. Reynolds and the Founding of the Church of the Nazarene.
Recently, Daryl Ireland asked Dr. Shea about the project. This is how she responded:
I did not choose Reynolds; he chose me, with the help of denominational archivist, Dr. Stan Ingersol, who approached me at a conference to ask if I would undertake the monumental task of reading the Reynolds archive and to consider writing his story. Since I knew nothing about Reynolds, and my colleagues (all ordained elders in the Church of the Nazarene) knew shockingly little about him, I said, “Sure.” This is not unusual for me. In the first grade, each student had to choose a bird to report upon to the class. Did I choose the robin? The blue jay? The goldfinch or oriole? No, I picked the phoebe bird. In the fifth grade, we each had to write a report on a hero of the Revolutionary War, so I picked Molly Pitcher. Who wouldn’t? When Reynolds presented himself, I was compelled to take on the challenge. Why write about someone we already know when there is something new to be learned?!
I worked with lots of primary materials. Reynolds was kind enough to save what must have been every piece of correspondence he ever received! (Well, maybe not every one, since the archival material grew exponentially once the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene was created.) He also kept carbon copies of most of his outgoing correspondence. So, I had an abundance of letters, cables and wires, sermon outlines, schedules, to-do lists, receipts, article manuscripts and photographs to fill in the details. I also had access to personal letters to and from his wife and children. He also left an unpublished memoir written when he was 75 and reflecting, from his perspective, on the life he had led. This was especially crucial in filling in the details of his youth and his years as a Methodist Episcopal minister in Vermont. Together, I was given an unusually well-rounded portrait, written in his own hand. In addition, I had access to holiness newspapers and, from their first issues, of denominational newspapers that followed his travels, printed his columns and editorials, and reported on his work as a General Superintendent and missionary leader. Then there were the minutes of meetings, some handwritten, from a variety of sources including Annual Conferences, General Assemblies, meetings of the Women’s Missionary Society, gatherings of denominational mission leadership (like the General Board of Foreign Missions) and other such groups. For me, the difficulty was not in gathering enough material to piece together a biography. It was sifting through mountains of material, knowing that every choice I made to include one thing meant choosing to exclude others. I tried very conscientiously to chose representative materials that could offer glimpses into much larger volumes of related materials across the breadth of his responsibilities. The incidents, people, concerns, policies and practices that receive the most attention are the ones that Reynolds, himself, spent the most ink and time trying to resolve, create, or manage. Since they dominated weeks, months, or years of his documented time and effort, they became important aspects of this book.
Some folks have gently wondered if I have soft-soaped his story because, when I talk about him, he sounds too good to be true. That always makes me sad. Reynolds was human and he was bold in revealing his own faults and sinfulness to any who would listen to his testimony of God’s grace and the joys of living a holy (sanctified) life. Still, during a tumultuous life filled with adventure, illness, and disaster, he strove, day in and day out, to live up to his calling as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So far as I could ascertain, once he set off to follow Jesus he never committed adultery, lined his own pockets with church money, cheated anyone he met, or indulged in drinking alcohol, smoking, or gambling. Unhappily, with our societal taste for scandal, we find it hard to believe that an honest biography could present a man of integrity. What a shame that scandals have become so associated with Christianity that a biography is suspect if there are no lurid skeletons being dragged out of the closet. Perhaps this book can offer an alternative to the standard hypocrisy narrative, for I believe it accurately captures a person who embraced the joys of holiness, setting an example we might all do well to follow.