Preaching Justice in an Age of Globalization
January 20, 2012 7 Comments
On Monday my friend and colleague Jacob Myers and I will teach the first installment of our course “Preaching Justice in an Age of Globalization” at Candler School of Theology. We are both really excited about this opportunity and course. I’ve taught several courses in ethics, leadership, and nonprofit management at Emory University’s Oxford College campus, and TA’d for courses at Candler before, but this will be the first course I’ve created and taught from scratch to seminarians. It should be a great experience – I’m sure for me, I hope for the students!
Months ago Jake called me up and asked to meet with me about an idea he had brewing in the back of his mind. The idea? He really wanted to teach a course on preaching justice that involved serious social engagement and he wanted me to dream up the course and teach it with him. His excitement quickly rubbed off on me and we were coming up with ideas on the spot. Now we finally get to teach it.
The impetus for the course were some burning questions that we both have wrestled with for awhile: “How does one preach about issues of social injustice in ways that encourage real engagement and work for social justice rather than one-time offerings to be sent off to people one never actually engages? How do we get Christians to understand, from the pulpit, that the gospel demands real work for justice and not just “charity?” And what tools do we need to provide ministers to be able to make informed decisions about what justice demands to avoid uninformed analysis or surface politicization of these issues?” Well, I’m the social ethicist and he’s the homiletician and we’re going to try our best to start figuring this out with our students this semester.
Our course description and objectives, as written in the syllabus, is this:
This course aims to empower preachers to address issues of global injustice and oppression through their preaching ministry with the hope of mobilizing congregations to engage constructively in these issues. To that end, this course will equip students with critical tools to prepare congregations for ethical engagement in an age of globalization through their preaching ministry. We will model the kind of social analysis, theological/ethical reflection, and prophetic preaching we envision — one that is globally aware and locally mobilized — through in-depth engagement with a particular globalized context: viz., Atlanta. This “case study” will provide the opportunity for students to hone the skills they are learning — social and ethical analysis and prophetic preaching — by engaging a relevant contemporary context of social injustice, structural violence, and interpersonal harm that continues to have global implications. Atlanta serves as a particularly fascinating case study for preaching justice: from its role as a hub of the civil rights movement to its status as an urban epicenter for human trafficking; from its recent role as a symbolic site of contestation over American immigration policy to its burgeoning refugee population. As a necessary component of the course, students will be required to participate in an immersion experience during the semester that will serve as a catalyst for ethical, theological, and homiletical reflection.
At the conclusion of the course students should have gained . . .
. . . a critical awareness of the complexities of social analysis in an age of globalization and a familiarity with the tools necessary to conduct such analyses
. . . a deeper knowledge of a particular social issue that is especially germane to the global injustices present in Atlanta (e.g., human trafficking, refugees, sustainability, immigration policy)
. . . a critical understanding of the challenges and opportunities the current cultural realities present to a preaching ministry attuned to the realities of global injustice
. . . a deepening of the skills learned in ES 501 (pre-requisite) in such a way as to better integrate theological and ethical analysis into the practical tasks of ministry, especially preaching. This course also serves as a complement to ES 609/M 619: Theology of Social Ministry/Social Mission of the Christian Church
. . . a deepening of the skills learned in P501 (pre-requisite) with a particular emphasis on the arts of prophetic and testimonial preaching
. . . a capacity to couple experience (both reported and personal) with biblical texts to craft sermons that lead to congregational engagement in issues of global injustice.
If you’re interested in seeing the entire syllabus you can find it here: Preaching Justice in an Age of Globalization Syllabus
It’s going to be a fun semester – wish me luck!