Saturday, October 18, 2014

What is Political Theology?

By Craig Hovey

Sometimes students ask me what political theology means. It's a class I love to teach so I thought I'd share the long description I came up with when I proposed the course.

REL 308 Political Theology - Spring 2015 TTh 10:50 am.

Fulfills Humanities Core.

This course introduces students to the major loci of contemporary political theology, including but not limited to current critiques of statecraft, recent developments in liberalism and democracy, political readings of the Bible, the fundamental orientation of the church vis-à-vis the political, violence and justice, marginalization and liberation (especially on matters of race and gender), the economy and globalization, and apocalypticism and eschatology. (The term “political theology” very often implies a focus on recent scholarship, as it is meant to do in this case. The term originates with Carl Schmitt’s 1922 essay by the same title.) The course is highly text-focused and deeply analytical, demonstrating and requiring a great deal of critical care in the handing of religious and political ideas.

It is hardly possible to overstate the degree to which our historical moment is ripe for the kind of serious and sustained exploration of theo-political questions which this course examines. From the profoundly renewed political self-awareness and self-confidence of fundamentalisms of many kinds, to the perceived inadequacies of secularizing moves enacted on entire nations (such as Turkey), to challenges from Jürgen Habermas, Pope Benedict XVI, and others for Europe to find an identity vis-à-vis its Christian past, to many of the political assumptions long taken for granted in the Christian West now facing resistance within Islam in ways that are at times acute, to the well-attested shift of Christianity’s center of gravity to the global South, the opening decades of the twenty-first century present a pivotal challenge to bring greater depth and clarity to topics of political theology that are likely to be with us for some time. This course is designed to be timely and relevant in light if these kinds of developments.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Public Lecture on the Quiverfull Movement


Duggar family.quiverfull, n. and adj. ˈkwɪvərˌfʊl : A large number of offspring (with allusion to Psalms 127:5)

The Ashland University Religion Department will host a lecture by Emily McGowin titled “Praying for More: Mothers and Motherhood in the American Quiverfull Movement.” The lecture, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, in the Ridenour Room of the Dauch College of Business and Economics, is free and open to the public.

The Quiverfull movement is an evangelical subculture that has emerged within the Christian homeschooling movement over the past 35 years. Featured in the TLC TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” Quiverfull families are identifiable by a lived religion that is radically family-focused and ordered around three key practices: homeschooling their children, performing the doctrine of male headship and eschewing all family planning so as to receive all children as a gift.

The primary goal of Quiverfull practice is to ensure "multigenerational faithfulness" in their offspring and, in the long term, to transform American culture through a demographic shift. Of course, this particular instantiation of evangelical religion has enormous consequences for women whose bodies and prolific work in the home are central to the Quiverfull way of life.

Drawing a year and a half of in-depth interviews with Quiverfull mothers, McGowin will present an overview of the Quiverfull construction of motherhood, focusing on the areas where their discourse evidences tensions and ruptures as it is performed in day-to-day life. Moreover, McGowin will reflect on what Quiverfull mothers have to teach students of Christian theology.

Emily McGowin is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Dayton. She has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from the Criswell College and an M.Div. from Truett Seminary at Baylor University.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Alumna News

Hali Brook ('13)

We have two boys and two girls homes in the Chiang Mai, Thailand area.
This is our whole family including 150+ children, Thai workers,
and American workers
In May 2013, I graduated from AU with a double major in Criminal Justice and Religion and a minor in Spanish. I had known for several years that I wanted to work with human trafficking and missions so when I heard about Remember Nhu (www.remembernhu.org) the organization was a perfect fit. 

We work against the sex slave trade by intervening in the lives of children who are at risk for being sold in the trade. They are welcomed into our children’s homes where their educational, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs are met--probably for the first time in their lives. Currently we have 32 homes in 9 countries and we are continually expanding as the Lord leads.

In Thailand I had the privilege of being able to live in the children’s home. I taught English to the children and Thai workers, organized activities for the kids, and assisted the house parents and American staff in whatever they needed.

Two of four sisters who live in our home
Posing for a picture
Most of our children come from homes with only one parent, drug and substance abuse, poverty, a new step-parent who doesn’t accept the children from previous marriages or in many cases a combination of few of these.  The typical age range of the children is 5-19 years old. For most children, learning English and completing high school is a huge success and a guarantee that they will be able to find viable work and not fall prey to the sex trade after completing school and leaving our home. Children are also able and encouraged to go to college if they desire. However, not all people are able to succeed in school. Some of our children come to us late in their childhood with never having consistently attending school. If they are so far behind, eventually they may not be able to pass the exams that some countries require to pass onto the next grade level. Therefore, Remember Nhu has started to open doors for vocational training. I was asked to move to Cambodia in January for three months to help open the vocational training center in Phnom Penh. I served as director of the center as well as an English and Math instructor and a Jewelry instructor. The center opened in January and we have had five girls so far come through and start to learn jewelry making, card making, and sewing. Having a trade and skill to fall back on will be a life preserver for those who can go onto college or even finish high school.  Products will soon be sold on the Remember Nhu website and the proceeds will be invested back into vocational training.

Learning for the first time how to sew on a machine
I am currently home on furlough; however, in August I will be moving to work with Remember Nhu in Bolivia. I will continue vocational training development and teaching English and Spanish. If you would like to learn more and follow my ministry you can check on my blog: http://followhali.tumblr.com/

Peace and Blessings,
Hali Brook