For those interested, these are the books, authors and essays I plan to read this Summer. Yes, it’s April and I am already gettin’ pumped about having time off of school to read during the Summer. I did the math, and I will probably have to read 35-45 pages (2-3 hours when everything is said and done, see pt. 2) a day in order to get through all of this material. This isn’t bad, considering Wolfhart Pannenberg was apparently reading 500 pages a day when he was writing his Anthropology! Nonetheless, I doubt I will be doing very much writing this Summer. I imagine though I will post a quote every once in awhile which may lead to me going on some sort of a tangent. This list is a bit of a work in progress. I am interested in possibly adding more which is why I am making this list public. I am especially aware that I have a total of 1 female on this list. So, if the reader feels lead, suggest something.
Christian Imagination by Willie James Jennings [Pages 384]
–I remember my junior year in college when I first heard about “The New Black Theology” in a Philosophical Theology class taught by Dr. Matt Bonzo (aka Chief). I immediately resolved to read all three books mentioned. I’ve made good on that resolution thus far as for the past two Summers I meticulously combed through Brian Bantum and then J. Kameron Carter’s works. It was intriguing to see how Carter and Bantum’s work dovetailed—It’s safe to say that their will be cross pollination with Jennings as well.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Old and New Posts)
–For anyone interested in an unadulterated, honest, critical examination of American Democracy (read American Exceptionalism) Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author you have been looking for. Coates has a way of even breaking the hearts of those who largely agree with his rejection of ahistorical interpretations of the United States. Coates is convinced that the U.S. is “built on the plunder of dark bodies.” If you read him closely, you will come away with the same conviction.
J. Kameron Carter [Articles & Video Lecutres]
–As I’ve stated elsewhere, I consider Carter to be the “Michael Jordan” of theology (So if Carter is Jordan, that would mean Duke Divinity could be described as “The Bulls in their winning season.” Although Dukees might not like this comparison considering Jordan played at North Carolina—But I digress!). I’m only half joking about this. Carter is a genius and it truly shows in his writing (highly interdisciplinary). Be forewarned—reading Carter is rewarding but extremely difficult. His tome on Race is a masterpiece, but then again, I only understood about 85% of it.
Old Testament Theology: Testimony, Dispute Advocacy by Walter Brueggemann [pages 777]
–Anyone who even sort-of reads what I write knows two things: 1) I enjoy writing fluff pieces where the reader is left with warm fuzzies in their tummy and 2) Walter Brueggemann—that is, Brueggemaster Flex—is my main man. I’ve read a number of Brueggemaster’s works and it is rare that I write something without referencing him at least once (here, here, and here). Brueggemaster is the full package: he is a prolific writer and a phenomenal speaker (to this last point, see here, here and here). This behemoth is Brueggemann’s magnum opus on the Old Testament. Take note of the page numbers—yes, it is a gargantuan book but more importantly “777” is the number of perfection! Coincident? I think not…
Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri [pages 478]
–Plain and simple, this is the neo-Marxist bible. I read this back when I was a sophomore in college and while it proved to be intellectually stimulating, I have to say that I wasn’t ready for such a formidable task. I’m hoping and praying that this time around will be different (FYI as you might guess, this book is free).
The Girard Reader by Rene Girard and James G. Williams [Pages 310]
–I’ve been interested in Girard’s mimetic theory for awhile now. I think it’s safe to say that we, the RestoringPangea team, by and large affirm the Scapegoat Theory of Atonement (e.g. Nathan and Nathaniel’s recent posts, Michael may have one that I am unaware of). My familiarity with mimetic theory is partly due to James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree. There are, as Cone demonstrates, many practical implications concerning mimetic theory.
God of the Oppressed by James Cone [Pages 257]
–Oddly enough I’ve never read this book—at least not all of it. I am a huge fan of Cone (as the picture makes clear ⇓) but this book has been consistently backlogged on my “to read” list. That ends this Summer! Simply stated, Cone is the father of Black Liberation Theology. There is no way to understate the indelible effect he has had on the theological landscape over the past 50 years. And with the current racist climate that seems to be resurfacing in America, many are revisiting his works and (re)discovering that “James Cone was right” from the very start.
Inconvenient Hero by Vincent Harding [Pages 164]
–For those interested in the Mennonite tradition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and “Anablacktivism,” Vincent Harding’s short book on King proves to be invaluable. Harding was a committed Mennonite who knew how to stir some things up. He recently passed away, but his legacy lives on.
Slow Church by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison [Pages 235]
–I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. Whether it’s regular church folk or serious academics this book is held in high regards within my immediate circles (CCDA/Northern Theological Seminary). These guys are also from the Indianapolis area and as a lifelong Indianapolis Colts fan I tend to be biased towards anything that comes from Naptown.
Redeployment by Phil Klay [Pages 304]
–Most people know I am an ardent pacifist. Nonetheless, war stories and/or movies (Saving Private Ryan, Men of Honor and Fury to name a few) have the ability to capture me in a rather profound way. In college I read essays from The Things They Carried and was blown away. Phil Klay’s book is supposedly similar to some of the other critical reflections on war and the human condition (esp. post-9/11).
Richard Rice, Searching for an Adequate God: Process Theism and the Open View of God,163-200.
–For those who wish to move beyond the paradigms of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Relational Theology awaits. This essay seeks to point out some major differences between Process and Open Theism.
William T. Cavanaugh, “A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House” – The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State; Making Enemies The Imagination of Torture in Chile and the United States.
–Some of my first interactions with serious theology can be traced back to William Cavanaugh (Being Consumed). I have read three of his books and a handful of his essays over the past 6 years. Political Theology can sometimes get a bad rap as being esoteric or dry but Cavanaugh’s writing is unique extremely engaging. It helps that he has a since of humor I think (see Part I of the Hauerwas Reader for one example).
Lisa P. Stephenson, Prophetically Political, Politically Prophetic: William Cavanaugh’s “Theopolitical Imagination” as an Example of Walter Brueggemann’s “Prophetic Imagination.”
–I’m unfamiliar with this author but Cavanaugh and Brueggemaster Flex are two of my standbys. Brueggemann consistently references Cavanaugh’s work in books and lectures. Especially interesting to Brueggemann was Cavanaugh’s dissertation which played with the theme of “imagination” as a way to resist the discipline of the state (i.e. torture). Imagination is key for Brueggemann (Prophetic Imagination).
George Hussinger, Karl Barth and Liberation Theology.
–Cone is a fan of Barth, Brueggemann is a fan of Barth so it seems like I need to be a fan of Barth. Besides my general interest in “the Yale School” or Narrative Theology I don’t know too much about Barth (this is why I’m friends with Nathaniel Grimes). Hussinger is a Barth theologian who writes on one of my favorite types of theology.
Terence Fretheim, Luther Conversation; God in the Fray: Some Reflections on Brueggemann’s God, 24-38; God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation, 20-22; Living Countertestimony: Biblical Theology in Dialogue: Reflections of Terence E. Fretheim, May 2011, with a Response by Walter Brueggemann, July 2011, 151-165.
–Fretheim and Brueggemann are friends but they disagree on more than a few points when it comes to theology. These two men are “elite scholars” in every sense of the term. If only everyone who disagreed with Brueggemann was able to do so in a way that copied Fretheim’s combination of critical scholarship/dialogical invitation.
Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach, 69-72. Brueggemann responds to Waltke in Living Countertestimony, 43-61.
–Bruce Waltke is not one of these people… Waltke makes a rather silly remark in his Old Testament Theology and Brueggemann takes him to task for it in a very public conversation at SBL in 2008 (see Living Countertestimony, 43-61).
John H. Yoder, Nonviolence-A Brief History, 27-38, 133-147.
–Yoder is a polarizing character and I get that–thats not the point here. The point here is that liberation theology has recently been criticized by Scot McKnight (one of my professors who I love but disagree with nonetheless) and seeing that McKnight is a proponent of Yoder, I want to read what Yoder has to say about liberation theology and the Civil Rights movement and see what all the hubba-ba-loo is about.
If you are interested in how I take notes and keep all this organized check out my next post.
Photo credit to Allison Wiltshire and Nate Hickcox