Lauren Winner has the semester off of teaching at Duke, but she’s teaching a seminary-level class in a women’s prison (so much for a sabbatical). Her experience in prison is changing the way that she read the Bible, as she writes in this week’s lectionary post at The Hardest Question:
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:14-21
For Sunday, January 27, 2013: Year C—Epiphany 3
I am writing this from the classroom of a women’s prison in central North Carolina. The classroom is in a trailer, kind of like the trailer in which you might have had overflow classes at your middle school.
I come here each week to teach a course on prayer. I never ask the students why they are in prison, but by now I know: some of them are here for killing abusive husbands or partners. Some are here for drug crime. Some are here for failing to intervene in a husband’s sexual abuse of their children. Some are only here for a year or two; others have been in the prison system for decades.
And here comes Jesus, quoting Isaiah, coming to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
Read the rest: Visiting Prisons.
When conversation on this blog turn to issues of sexuality, as it did this week with Brian McLaren’s View on Homosexuality, there are always some commenters who admit that their Christian faith has broken free of the Bible. For example, R. Jay comments,
I’m a Christian for whom the Bible is not my foundation, not my law code, not my ladder, not my pedestal. I love it dearly, but I don’t need it to know God, and I don’t need it to understand how to love my neighbor fully.
In the absence of the Bible, there is still God. And to know God does not require the Bible. Devotion to it has become the most insidious of all barriers.
Honestly, I understand how some people come to this conclusion. The Bible is a primitive book, coming out of a primitive time. Even the most staunch conservatives should be able to admit that. It is reflective of a different world than the world in which we live. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not applicable to our lives and our time, but that much hermeneutical work needs to be done to understand what it means for us today.
In Brian’s own evolution of how he understand human sexuality, he has not abandoned the Bible,
I’m thinking and reading a lot about creation right now, in preparation for year two of the Christian Spirituality Cohort that I have the great joy of leading for Fuller Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Program. (Another time I’ll write about what a joy it is to be in community with these 10 students.) In year one, Lauren Winner and I led the class through the history and theology of Christian spirituality; next year, Craig Detweiler and I will be teaching about spirituality, film, and fiction.
This year, my co-teacher is Brian McLaren, and we’re taking the cohort into the far north woods of Minnesota, to canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, outfitted by Boundary Waters Experience. Our subject matter will be Christian Spirituality and the Doctrine of Creation.
One of the things I like most about Fuller’s DMin program is the aggressive amount of reading required of the students: 4,500 pages per year. That’s a ton of reading, especially for people who are working full-time jobs in ministry. It takes an enormous amount of discipline, but I have yet to field a single complaint about the amount from a student.
Just to make you jealous, the required reading list is below. I’ve broken the books into three categories, with Moltmann’s creation theology serving as our ur-text. Every one of these books is worth your time.