State of Formation Today at the AAR/SBL Gathering

Earlier today, at the annual meeting for AAR/SBL, current and prospective Contributing Scholars gathered to discuss the process of articulating their personal perspectives and set of beliefs online. Both Diana Eck and Paul Raushenbush came to both listen and discuss how emerging leaders can shape their voices in the public sphere. As Diana Eck said, “Scholarship should turn our hearts towards the world.” This simple quote gets at the root of what we try to do at State of Formation.

Three Contributing Scholars (Elise Alexander, Paul Greene, and Simran Jeet Singh) shared their work and discussed both the growth they have experienced since writing on State of Formation and the challenges engaging in online dialogue presents. We are pleased to share with you a summary of the exceptional work of some key scholars, some of whom were present today:

Aaron Stauffer – Hate in Manchester, TN – Where do we Go from Here?

Islamophobia in middle Tennessee is becoming a real problem. In the past several years, two mosques have been firebombed: one had swastikas drawn on its walls, with “White Power” written on the sides. In 2008 an independent short film about Islamophobia in Shelbyville, TN: Welcome to Shelbyville told the story of a community that struggles with an influx of Islamic immigrants and refugees. Read more here.

Adam HollowellWork and Witness: The Role of Faith Communities in Working-Class America 

Rob is a twenty-six year old white male who lives in Massachusetts. After graduating from vocational high school, he hoped to build a career in manufacturing technology and carpentry. But as soon as he entered the labor market, Rob realized that his professional skills were obsolete. Read more here.

Christ FiciThe Yoga of Ecology and the Anticipatory Community

This past summer I got over my nature-deficit disorder. As I have been sharing here on State of Formation, my time serving as an apprentice in communities at the forefront of the eco-theological and eco-justice revolutions, such as Bluestone Farm of the Community of the Holy Spirit, The Green Wheeling Initiative, and the Teaching Garden at The Small Farm Training Center, has helped me to really put my hands and heart into the soil of the yoga of ecology. Read more here.

Elise Alexander – I dwell in (and with) Possibility

One of the few specific facts I remember from my introductory class on Western religions in college is the uniqueness of the Hebrew creation myth (in all its forms).  While other gods of ancient Mesopotamian pantheons created the world from the bodies of their dead enemies, children, or parents, the Hebrew creator god simply said, “Let there be…”– and there was. Read more here.

Enver Rahmanov – Blessed are the Compassionate: The value of co-suffering in Mahayana Buddhism and Liberation Theology

No island or castle can hide us from the reality of suffering, including sickness and death. That was true for Gautama Buddha over 2,500 years ago and it is true today. When we pay attention, we realize that our own lack of awareness, isolation, separation, oppression, greed, denial of change and clinging to things and ideas not only increase our suffering but also lead us to harmful decisions. Read more here.

Kelly West Figueroa-Ray – The Silent Streets: 50 years after shouts demanding civil rights rang out in Jackson, Mississippi

“I helped create this,” stated Reverend Ed King as we ate lunch at the Mayflower Cafe in Jackson, Mississippi. We were talking about what it was like to walk downtown the main street in Jackson, Mississippi that leads up to the State Capitol. This street flanked on all sides by what used to be very powerful white mainline Protestant Christian churches — First Presbyterian, First Baptist, Galloway United Methodist. Read more here.

Michael Woolf – Sweet(?) Home Alabama – Sin, The Voting Rights Act, and Being from Shelby County

In the wake of the celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA, it can be easy to forget what happened one day earlier – the nullification of the Voting Rights Act, which has protected the enfranchisement of African Americans throughout the South since 1965. The case’s plaintiff was the county where I was born and raised – Shelby County Alabama. The county that has paved the way for the disenfranchisement of African Americans throughout the South is also the same county where I learned to ride a bike, to be a decent person, to practice that special brand of hospitality that is unrivaled in the United States. And perhaps most importantly, it is also the place where I learned to be Christian – these people taught me how to love Jesus. Read more here.

Paul Joseph Greene – Loving Courage to Worship the Gungod No More

Another mass shooting.  Do you care about the details?  Do you?  Do I? What about the mass shooting that takes place every day in the United States, one murder and one suicide at a time?  Do you care about the details? Do you? Do I? Read more here.

Simran Jeet Singh – Hate Hits Home: When My Friend Became a Target

Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: a close friend was hurt, and on his way to the hospital. But the news got worse, as I learned that my friend, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh American professor at Columbia University, had been brutally attacked on a public street, the victim of a violent hate crime. My brother and I immediately jumped in a taxi and rushed to the hospital, where we finally saw Prabhjot being wheeled in, bloody and bruised, his face swollen from a fractured jaw. He couldn’t speak because many of his teeth had been displaced, but he waved limply to let us know that he was okay. Read more here.

Yaria Robinson – Storytime for Congress

The government shutdown drags on. Watching Congress’ continued “incredible ineptitude,” as the United Methodist Women have called it, with increasing frustration, incredulity, and a sense of powerlessness, I now find myself feeling towards our elected officials the way a preschool teacher feels toward three-year olds who won’t share their toys.  Read more here.

 (Picture used with permission).

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