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Relevant Religion Series

Collage image—Background 6 images from protests or rallies. Humans of various genders and races visible holding various signs including “Reimagine Policing”, “There is No Planet B”, and “Black Lives Matter”; a rainbow flag is visible in the lower left corner. Imposed on top of these images are two hands pointed up with orange and yellow flames coming up from them. All of the images are slightly faded so that they seem to flow into one another.

 Image ID: Collage image—Background 6 images from protests or rallies. Humans of various genders and races visible holding various signs including “Reimagine Policing”, “There is No Planet B”, and “Black Lives Matter”; a rainbow flag is visible in the lower left corner. Imposed on top of these images are two hands pointed up with orange and yellow flames coming up from them. All of the images are slightly faded so that they seem to flow into one another. 

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Relevant Religion Series: Spiritual Revolution

Welcome to  Spiritual Revolution,  a Relevant Religion Series from Vanderbilt Divinity School.  This is  an apocalyptic time,  ripe with divine possibilities.  The root of the word apocalypse means to uncover, to reveal.  Our world has long been on fire, designed to indulge a few  through  the oppression and labor of many , and we have been trained to think this normal, inevitable, “just the way things are.”  And so often our habits of faith and theology have buttressed these violent norms.   

But t hose most violently targeted have always called out and organized for liberation where all could thrive, be honored, be safe ; and our faiths have always included prophetic leadership Like the  tectonic  pressures internal to our globe, the work for liberation is always present and sometimes surfacing like an earthquake or volcanic eruption.  But the forces  have been multiplied exponentially, crafting an atmosphere ready for a more cataclysmic shift, like when the land mass of Pangea separated into the continental bodies that we know today.  All of the socio-cultural fault lines are quaking, calling for a reckoning and the building of a new world. We can feel it as we witness:  

  • Those native to this land fight both for their Sacred sites and for the protection of the water and resources that are necessary for us all to live.
  • Millions insist that Black Lives Matter, something that  shouldn’t  even have to be stated, as a push back to s tate violence  demonstrated through  police shootings and a prison and detention syste m that decimates  black communities and  destroys the families of those seeking asylum and shelter. 
  • A pandemic  that  lays bare the  violent  impacts of an economic system that determines human worth iness of health and home  through pay  and corporate bottom lines.
  • The growing refusal to allow sexual violence, in all its forms, to go unnamed, covered up, and used as a tool of control and enforcement. 

As all of this and more requires that we face the g lobal impact of the  U nited  State ’s   Settler- Colonialist history of genocide and enslavement ; and the collaboration of the Christian Church therein. 

This  is a time of uncovering the violence of our institutions and relationships; it is time to build toward structures and practices that serve all of God’s creation and perpetuate justice. To build a liberated world requires prophetic protest and strategic organizing,  institutional reimagining and   relational  change . And all of this depends upon a spiritual revolution—a complete reimagining of our ethics, our faithfulness,  our values, and our call. 

Through this series of monthly talks and popular education workshops, each of VDS’s co-curricular programs will  facilitate conversations and workshops that will deepen and shift our spiritual practices to equip us for the hard, joyous work of building a thriving world for all.

This series has been  visioned  by the Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership; the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality; the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies; the Public Theology and Racial Justice  Collaborative ; the Religion  in the  Arts and Contemporary Culture Program; and the  Wendland -Cook Program in Religion and Justice. We are so grateful to be in the work with you.    

Wendland-Cook Program Relevant Religion Spring 2021

Spiritual Revolution: Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice

Material Spiritualities: Liberating People and the Planet

The focus of this gathering would be a workshop, popular education style session focused on connecting the notion of “deep solidarity” and other core concerns of the Wendland-Cook Program with liturgical, ecclesial, and organizing practices connected to the work of healing justice and liberation for people and the planet. 

The emphasis will be on sharing stories, strategies, and concrete examples that provide justice-minded faith communities with strong grounding, analysis, and vision for confronting systemic economic, racial, and ecological/environmental justice issues, while holding these in conversation with the myriad of intersecting concerns.

 Our goal would be for people who already have an affinity towards this type of theological-social-political analysis to leave with additional tools for developing organizing campaigns that actively include the spiritual dimensions of the work.

Date and Time

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

6:00 PM Central Time

About the Panelists

Francisco Garcia

Francisco Garcia Jr.,  Ph.D. Admission Year 2019, Graduate Research Fellow

Francisco is a Chicano from Los Angeles, born to Mexican immigrant parents. He is also a priest in the Episcopal Church. Prior to church ministry he worked in the labor movement in various organizing, negotiating, and leadership capacities with workers in both the public and private sectors. His work over the last ten years has focused on congregation-based ministry and interfaith community organizing/advocacy around immigrant rights, housing rights, and racial and economic justice issues. His doctoral research entails developing a theology of organizing rooted in the liberation tradition in order to better equip communities of faith to address the pressing justice issues of our time.

Htoi San Lu

Htoi San Lu, Ph.D. Admission Year 2018

Htoi is a Ph.D. student in Theological Studies and a Theology and  Practice Fellow in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt  University. Prior to her doctoral studies, she has earned three Masters  degrees in theological studies from Union Theological Seminary in New  York, Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Kachin  Theological College in Myitkyina, Burma/Myanmar. Her research interest  is guided by a postcolonial feminist theology through which Htoi  explores Kachin diasporic life in the U.S. and around the globe. Born  and raised in Burma/Myanmar to a mixed ethnic Kachin and Shan family  with different religious backgrounds, she is also interested in the  politics of difference and theology of otherness. Her education and  ministerial experiences mutually shape her way of doing theology and  enhance her awareness of injustice to those who are marginalized and  powerless at multiple levels.

Bridget Hall

Bridget Hall, Ph.D. Admission Year 2019

Bridget Hall is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society and a Theology  and Practice Fellow at Vanderbilt University. She holds a Masters of  Divinity from Emory University Candler School of Theology and a  Bachelors of Arts in History and Religion from Greensboro College.  Bridget serves as an Ella Baker Trainer for the Childrens Defense Fund  Freedom School, which provides her the kinds of opportunities to develop  and refine a praxis of liberation, care, and justice for children,  families, and communities effected structural oppression. Bridget is  interested in the intersections of race, class/economics, gender, and  violence and the experiences of black children and women. She seeks to  develop an ethic of care that addresses the multifaceted and  intersectional oppression and violence that black children from  economically deprived families and communities face in their everyday life.

Vonda McDaniel

Vonda McDaniel

Vonda McDaniel is the president of the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle TN, AFL-CIO and a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill . She is a member of the Wendland-Cook Programs Steering Committee 

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