Lauren Winner Is in Prison

I’m guessing those cat eye glasses set off the metal detectors.

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.

A New Preaching Website

I’ve been part of the development of a new website for lectionary preachers (and others who care about the text).  The site is the brainchild of one of my favorite preachers (and authors), the Reverend Russell Rathbun of House of Mercy.  Two of each week’s lectionary texts will be investigated by Russell, who curates the site, and guest contributors.

In recent years, Russell has been attracted to the midrash way of approaching, exegeting, and proclaiming the text.  Specifically, he’s been studying the work of Aviviah Gottlieb Zornberg and been applying that to his own preaching.

The Hardest Question is the result of Russell’s thinking in this regard, and it is a project in partnership with sparkhouse, a new publishing and design firm in Minneapolis.  About THQ, Russell says,

“Questioning the text is important, because the Bible is the witness to the Living Word of God. We are called into relationship with God through Jesus the Christ, The Word. Relationships, at there their best, are dynamic, growing, deepening, revelatory, generative and transforming. A primary way we pursue relationship with the Living Word through the study of scripture, so it must be taken seriously, approached with a robust confidence and a passionate vulnerability.

We ask the Text the hardest questions because we can. It does not break, it is not offended and does not judge our desire for understanding. The ancient rabbis say that when we study the Bible we release God’s mercy into the world. It is important to question the text, because the world needs as much of God’s mercy as possible.”

Last week’s posts were by Bruce Reyes-Chow, and this week’s are by Fuller Seminary preaching prof Mark Labberton.  Upcoming posts will come from Nadia Bolz-Weber and Phyllis Tickle, and regular contributions will come from Russell.  Plus, every Thursday at 10:30am CDT, Russell hosts a live videocast on UStream.

So, if you’re a preacher who uses the lectionary texts, bookmark THQ as a great, new resource.  And as you’re sitting in your study on Thursday morning fighting writer’s block, tune in to the videocast for a little inspiration.

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