It is time for my Spring 2021 Reading Circle. This time there will just be one Reading Circle and it’ll continue the conversations (and welcome new conversations from new people!) to the Gender, Sexuality, and Faith Reading Circle. It is subtitled “Foucaulting Around” because we will be discussing the three volumes of The History of Sexuality over nine weeks. To sign up for the Reading Circle, click here.
For more information on the Reading Cricle:
A Reading Circle that discusses texts on Gender, Sexuality, and Faith. Everyone is welcome to apply; however, the Circle is capped at 15 people.
The third iteration of this Circle will discuss Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality (volume 1, Introduction; volume 2, The Use of Pleasure; volume 3, The Care of the Self). While not a religious or spiritual text, necessarily, it is a foundational text in sexuality studies and informs a lot of the current scholarship occurring around sexuality and its use by individuals, by the State, and, subsequently then, by religion. As such, I think it’s good to attend to certain foundational texts in sexuality and gender studies.
Foucault’s text can be difficult. It is in translation from the original French and Foucault is continuing conversations that have occurred in academia and are still occurring in academia. As such, the text can feel disconcerting. The point of a Reading Circle is meant to not just figure out exactly what the text is saying or the author is wanting to portray; it is to discuss those things, yes, but it’s also to further our own knowledge in community with other people. As such, we struggle together through the text, trying our best to summarize, to discuss, and to attend to the thinking that Foucault expresses in his writing.
I have discussed Foucault in classes I have taken; however, I am not a Foucauldian nor would I argue I understand him well. Although I will be leading the Circles, it will be an open discussion of Foucault’s work on sexuality, in which I am learning and you are too.
If you would like a primer on Foucault, I recommend Foucault’s entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/
The Reading Circle will occur over nine weeks. We will be meeting online on Sundays at 5 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Mountain/7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern. The meeting will last an hour to an hour and a half. I recognize that some may not be able to attend for an entire hour and a half meeting, so it is open for people who might need to leave early. In each meeting, we ask one or two people to summarize brief portions of the whole and then we attend to a close reading of each part by walking through the text itself, bringing up what we thought about each part and if we had any questions.
You will need to purchase this text or find it at your local library. I have access to PDF copies of the first two volumes, so if chosen and if needed, I’ll send those out.
April 11: Volume 1, Part 1 to Part 3 (~80 pages)
April 18: Volume 1, Part 4 and Part 5 (~90 pages)
April 25: Volume 2, Introductory Chapters and Part 1 (~95 pages)
May 2: Volume 2, Part 2 and Part 3 (~90 pages)
May 9: Volume 2, Part 4, Part 5, and Conclusion (~80 pages)
May 16: Volume 3, Part 1 and Part 2 (~70 pages)
May 23: Volume 3, Part 3 and Part 4 (~75 pages)
May 30: Volume 3, Part 5 and Part 6 (~60 pages)
June 6: Volume 3,, Conclusion, and Overview (~20 pages)
If you have any questions, please let Adam know on the sign up form. Newcomers are very welcome and encouraged to apply!
In January, I always see people discussing their word or phrase of the year, a cluster of letters that will guide them through the upcoming trials and tribulations. Something they can think about through the year, a theme, according to CGP Grey. A focal point.
I wanted to join in this tradition this year, and the word I choose is devotion.
Devotion, in how I am thinking about it this year, has three central parts.
To Devote; Devoting
The first I want to think about is the verb form: devoting yourself to a cause, a person, a way of life, a god, or a belief system. When one devotes themselves to one of these, they are reaching out and beyond themselves to form a connection with something or someone else. Whatever that thing or one is, it is something that is not yet intertwined with the being that is seeking out to be devoted to it. The act of devoting, in my thinking here at the beginning of the year, focuses on giving yourself to something else. As this year goes, I would like to think about my actions and what I am giving myself to, devoting my time and energy.
Devotions can refer to an act of prayer or private worship. For example, one’s morning devotions could be checking social media and news websites while drinking a morning drink. I want to think and consider what my devotions are throughout this year and what I’m willing to commit to. What devotions do I do throughout the day? What do these devotions give me and what do they take from me? How do my devotions affect those around me?
Devotion itself can also be religious fervor or piety. How one is dedicated to a god, belief system, or religion. This goes hand-in-hand with the verb form above, but in thinking about it this year, I want to focus specifically on my devotion to higher power – or power without me. One of the things I love about god-believing belief systems is that they place the human in humble supplication toward a being of greater power and majesty. The very act of believing in and having faith and hope that there is a higher power out there encourages and arrests someone to humility, since they, the human, while great within this world, are always less than something else. While this humility does not always play out across a belief system, it is ever so prescient when one thinks about their place in the universe and their relationship to it.
What a year it’s been. My reading habits have gone up and down this year, but one thing has stayed the same: consistently reading. I read through a lot of different media this year—physical books, PDF books, eBooks, and audiobooks. (For the full list of books, see my Goodreads page.) I read a lot of articles and reviews, along with essays and, yes, a little bit of poetry and some plays. Here, not in any order specifically, are ten books I read and thoroughly enjoyed in 2020.
Taylor G. Petrey, Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism
The scholarship around modern Mormonism, or rather the study of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its theology, and the culture and people it creates, is a rather limited field. Petrey’s book is probably the only one out there on this subject, and it’s a dang good one on it. He’s measured, he’s fair, and he’s approachable. He shows his readers that the Church has, in fact, changed its understanding of gender and sexuality, grounding that change in a shift of control over bodies after the priesthood ban was lifted, and that the Church’s view of sexuality is fixated on the porousness of gender as found within its teachings, doctrines, and theologies. The writing itself is easy to understand—a massive accomplishment, in my opinion, as Petrey is not only showing what modern Mormonism believes institutionally for gender and sexuality but also bringing that understanding into broader conversations around religion, gender, and sexuality. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book.
Suzanne Collins, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
I didn’t think I would want or even enjoy a prequel surrounding the man of Katniss Everdeen’s nightmares, but I was pleasantly delighted when, in finishing this book, I had more philosophical thoughts on dystopia and agency than going into the book. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes shows why Collins is an excellent writer that leaves the reasoning to the reader as she presents conundrum after conundrum. I had a wonderful conversation with a friend after finishing this book, and neither of us could decide how or why the book ended the way it did because Collins leaves it up to interpretation while giving us enough clues to thread together different labyrinths. An excellent read that takes us back to Panem and back to ourselves.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
For my last two semesters of my master’s degree, I took a course on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. In those courses, one follows Freud’s will to pleasure, which centers our experience in the pleasure drive found within human beings. One usually wouldn’t think that reading over and over again about pleasure can become unpleasurable, but after a while, it does. As such, it was nice to read this book and be introduced to Kierkegaardian will to meaning, which is a different way than the will to pleasure or the Nietzschean will to power. Logotherapy was a theoretical frame that helped Frankl survive the Holocaust and recover his life after such a harrowing event, and it is a new interest to me in my own studies now, thanks to this book.
Christina Lauren, Autoboyography
I can’t believe it took me so long to finally read this book. Let me just say that this book is the best book, in my opinion, to nuance, discuss, and engage with cisgender male homosexuality and bisexuality and Latter-day Saint struggles. I’ve read a lot of autobiographies that engage with the subject, but this one, although fictional, presents the reality of the struggle in a way that allows the reader to actually feel what a person might go through when they are non-heterosexual and cisgender male in the Church. It is the best book, even greater than the many autobiographies out there, because it portrays a reality of love, rather than only a reflection.
Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk
Stiefvater’s abilities as a wordsmith is one of the most pleasurable things to experience in the world.
Chanel Miller, Know My Name
Miller’s poise and finesse as she dictates the traumas of survivorship after being sexually assaulted and the personal and public battles that occur after that moment help to let people know her name and know the struggle of any survivor set adrift on the sea of survivorship.
Phil Stamper, The Gravity of Us
Heartwarming, hopeful, and heaven-sent, Stamper’s The Gravity of Us fulfilled my space-loving geek inside and warmed my usually frozen heart.
Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
I took a course on the holocaust earlier this year, and we read this book. This book led me to write a brief blog post and then expand that post into a final paper for the course. Taking any course at a divinity school leads to a lot of personal reflection, but this course probably led to the most. The book itself asks what someone might do in the case of being asked to forgive someone who has done atrocities in their life. Most of us, especially those of us with a Christian upbringing, if asked that question, would hope that we could be forgiving, but the book itself, especially the symposium after the story, nuances that point, much better, I think, than Matthew 18.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835–1870
This book is a delight to read and from which to learn. Ulrich’s writing opens up a theologically shifting world of early Mormonism as those early practitioners try to find their place in new paradigms, new faith, and new wonder.
Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War
“Journey before destination, you bastard.”
The global faith leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently asked all practitioners to engage in a #GiveThanks campaign on social media. Simply put, religious practitioners were asked to post daily about things they are grateful for. The faith leader believes this action will heal people’s spirits during the woes of a global pandemic, political turmoil at home and abroad, and deceitful industries attempting to destroy the planet we are blessed to care for—just some of the many things we face in our world today. Showing gratitude and being grateful are good ways of feeling good and are great ways to change the focus and tenor of our communal conversations. We are in dark times, and light is always welcome.
However, the constant influx of gratitude on social media has one major flaw: narcissism.
By design, social media is a narcissistic paradise; by intent, social media is a dopamine reward system built like Vegas slot machines to keep its users in a constant state of elation . Every post, every like, every comment, every notification triggers in our brains a heightened sense of excitement and pleasure. We are a people enslaved to the red notification icon.
This is why the flaw of this campaign—this prophetic challenge—is so damning. Gratitude given on social media is a performative act meant to show others that you are pious and good because you can express the simplest platitude, a thank you, in a very public way. This action then rewards you with notifications, allowing your brain to fill your body with positive, good-feeling hormones that help you to feel better. Thus, the post of gratitude made you feel better because it is a simple effort with a simple reward. The performance of gratitude is applauded temporarily; however, the spiritual act of being grateful is not, I would argue, completely fulfilled.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us of performative acts just for performance’s sake:
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.Matthew 6:1-2
Instead, Jesus exhorts his followers to do alms—or thanksgiving, or praise, or worship—in private, sacred spaces:
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.Matthew 6:3-4
Now, one who posts on social media using #GiveThanks may not think that what they’re doing is a performative act. “But I really am grateful for my spouse and family and dog and weird left toe and that book or this movie,” one may think, and one is justified in this thought. It is truth, even: They are truly grateful, and there really is nothing wrong with expressing gratitude. The real question one must face, and it is a question faced in the solitude of the soul, is how they show gratitude when it is not a requested act to be performed online, for hundreds or thousands of people to see and to like.
I hope to make at least this clear: My contention is not with gratitude itself. It is with how #GiveThanks is a performative act that rewards the performer through notifications and through fulfilling the simple commands of a faith leader, shames those not participating on social media, and mocks humility and Christian piety. Indeed, posts are wonderful for a temporary elation, a quick Coke before you start your day, but Christ-followers should be asked to show gratitude as Christ shows gratitude: by seeking justice.
The concept of justice I am using is not the justice many Latter-day Saints may first think of. Latter-day Saint justice typically focuses on recourse for a broken law or the universe righting itself for a wrong. It is a reactive justice, one that is meted out when something else happens. A sin occurs, justice is what is required to fix the broken soul; Christ’s mercy, then, overcomes that requirement of justice and provides the balm to the soul that sin has broken. The Book of Mormon’s justice and mercy, especially as seen through the words of Latter-day faith leaders like President Boyd K. Packer, have become a transactional justice and mercy—a trade, a contract.
This reading of justice and mercy is not a bad or incorrect one. However, it is a reading, and not the only reading.
Justice, in this instance, means the righting of inequality, inequity, and iniquity. It favors seeking equality, equity, and righteousness—righteousness not defined as blindly or dogmatically following rules but instead as actively doing good in the world. It is a justice of works and positive action rather than punishment.
This view of justice can be found in scripture. The author of 2 Corinthians explains that “God loveth a cheerful giver” (9:7). He adds to this that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may about to every good work: . . . Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:8, 11). According to this author’s argument, God gives all grace toward an individual, but the individual, then, should go about doing good works while being grateful; in other words, the individual can show their gratitude through doing good works, or seeking for justice in this world.
Gratitude is shown by seeking justice.
In other words, one shows that they are grateful when they are working to make this world a better place. When someone is seeking to express gratitude, instead of sharing posts that flaunt the blessing’s in one’s own life, one should fight like dragons for those same temporal blessings to be brought to other people’s lives.
Jesus, as always, is the perfect example of this principle. Jesus fought for temporal justice when he performed miracles, healing the temporal ailments of those who had faith in him and his Parents. His gratitude for his part in the plan of salvation was by attempting to alleviate the mortal hardship in this life and provide balm for the next life.
In a way, sharing on social media does provide this effort. It gives an elated feeling as others like your posts and as you see others and the gratitude they show. However, as with all social media, this feeling fades in time. When Jesus performed miracles, most of them were for all mortality—the blind who saw continued to see, the deaf who heard continued to hear, and the lepers who were healed continued to be healed.
The grateful Christian lunges into the fray of inequality, inequity, and iniquity, seeking to alleviate these afflictions—afflictions created not by a loving God but rather by children of God as they toil in a fallen world. Gratitude is best shown, in my opinion, in the actions we take, rather than the words we post.
Know My Name
by Chanel Miller
I returned to Chanel Miller’s Know My Name to listen to it this time around. It is still as powerful and moving as when I read it last year: it is a book between a “I wish this never happened to anyone” and “I’m glad she wrote this after it happened.”
This read, the quote that stood out to me most was, “Denying darkness does not bring anyone closer to the light” (311).
If we thought gays were filled with scorn and shade, just wait until you read about these gay penguins. I always love when there’s levity brought to the field of writing, and Amanda Arnold in “There’s Drama in the Queer Penguin Community” delivers. Read this one with a mimosa.
Katy Waldman’s article is a book review of a book detailing an intellectual history of the Trump era. I find her review to be smart and quick, brining us such ruminating lines as “One of the book’s standout preoccupations is whether Trump is an asteroid or a fungus” and “incentives of a culture that is designed to keep talking long after there’s anything left to say.”
I have Casper tur Kuile’s The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices on my reading list right now (I’ll probably write about it next week or the week following), so I thought it would be good to return to this article. I saw it circling in divinity school circles when it was published a few months ago.
The article talks about how divinity school graduates (along with others) have teamed up: “They blend the obscure language of the sacred with the also obscure language of management consulting to provide clients with a range of spiritually inflected services, from architecture to employee training to ritual design.”
I’m of many minds on this article – from “spirituality just trying to survive Capitalism” to “spirituality adapting to the Free Market (lol)” to “eff you, Luther, who needs to separate secular and sacred.” But it’s the least to say that it is an interesting idea. We’ll see how it goes, eh?
Like I hope many of you did, I listened to the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. While I dislike the lack of ethical leadership and hypocritical movement in the Senate right now, I did find some odd comfort in this article from The Atlantic by T. M. Luhrmann, most noted for “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God” (Knopf, 2012). The article, “Why Amy Coney Barrett Might Surprise Everyone,” argues that her religious background and her trust in God could be an asset on the Court rather than something that might be seen as detrimental.
Of course, none of us can speak on the subject because her seat on the highest court of the land is still…hypothetical.
Climate change, argued under the term “anthropocene” in many academic circles, being the point at which humans have affected Earth more than Earth has affected humans, is an existential threat of massive proportions—even as large as the Earth itself. The reason it is so huge, though, is not just the scope of environmental disasters; it is the effect climate change will have on every other aspect of our lives: economic, political, psychological, familial, religious, etc. Again from The Atlantic, “Earth’s New Gilded Era” by Vann R. Newkirk II links climate change explicitly to poverty and wealth and the clashes of class to come.
I think my new favorite Dolly Parton quote is “I’ve got the hair for it, it’s huge, and they could always use more boobs in the race,” said when she was asked to comment on her personal politics. In “The United States of Dolly Parton,” Lauren Michele Jackson, writing in the New Yorker, connects Parton’s life to the broader swaths of cultural change that she’s lived through, from waves of feminism to rural poverty, while also portraying Parton as who she is: someone who rose out of that poverty and graces the world with her charity.
I love learning new ways to organize and use my time wisely. Just ask Missionary Adam—chapter 8 was probably my favorite in “Preach My Gospel” and I still use many principles found there today. I came across the pomodoro technique rather accidentally. I saw someone post on Twitter bout an app called “Focus To-Do.” My current to-do apps weren’t working quite as well as they did when I was in school, so I downloaded it. The app tracks pomodoros (literally “tomatoes” in Italian), which led me to hunt down what that mean. Pomodoro is a technique that separates tasks into 25-minute time limits (a “pomodoro,” named after the old tomato kitchen timer) with 5-minute breaks after each pomodoro. While I have to still adapt the technique to my own schedule and quirks, it’s great to have it in my toolbox of organization and completion. The book explains how to do the technique as an individual and within a team.
Until next time, pomodoro.
Reading has been and always will be a relationship between the silent and the spoken, the internal and the external, the kept and the shared. As someone who loves reading, I’d like to start doing some more sharing of what I enjoy reading every week. Links and thoughts are below.
Marissa Compton, “Hunger, Bread and Stone,” Again, But With Feeling: A Personal Theology.
Marissa is a really good friend who has delightful theological insights that bring me closer to divinity and grace. I’m grateful for the words she gives us and the ways she helps us to rethink faith and belief.
This article, particularly, struck me as she and I are in similar parts of the same boat. We graduated the same time from Harvard Divinity School and are facing dealing with a shifting and tumultuous world post-graduation with degrees in theology. While theology can provide peace and assurance in times such as these, they aren’t perfect at supplying a roof over the head or bread on the table. Her insights into faith, though, are manna for my soul during these troubling times.
“I’m grateful, but I’m also afraid. There are a lot doors I’ve been knocking on for a while, and nothing seems to be opening. Some of these prayers are existential questions—theological, social, political—and some of them are so personal, they’re nearly biological. Prayers about people I miss and purpose I want to feel, prayers about not being depressed and the world not being terrifying.”
V.E. Schwab, “How Bestselling Author V.E. Schwab Finally Found the Words to Come Out of the Closet,” O: The Oprah Magazine.
Victoria Schwab’s engaging, heart-wrenching, and utterly dynamic coming out story is as beautiful as it is hopeful. It touches on concepts of identity, community, and communion in the way that only Schwab, who is a pinnacle among writers attempting to portray those on the outskirts, in the gardens and not the houses, can.
“…you say you’re sorry you’re late, you got lost, and they fold you into their arms and says it is okay, you are here now.”
Benjamin E. Park, “Mormons and evangelicals share an ironic skepticism of democracy,” Salt Lake Tribune.
As we engage in a politics that will, I believe, continue to be centered around religion in the coming years, it is important to know the history of how we got here. Two prominent Mormon studies books that came out this year, Joanna Brooks’s Mormonism and White Supremacy and Taylor Petrey’s Tabernacles of Clay, both argue strongly that the arc of religious history is never set in stone; rather, it is full of people making choices regarding their theology and meaning making. Park’s short essay in the Salt Lake Tribune shows a brief snapshot of the political alliance between Mormons and Evangelicals and how that has eroded parts of our democratic processes.
“But the Faustian bargain that the Mormons and evangelicals made with the GOP has now led them to hold deeply ironic political positions.”
Nicholas Carr, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” Norton (2020, 2nd edition).
I was introduced to The Shallows by one of my undergraduate professors. I read some of it that semester, but it didn’t come to forefront of my attention until I started thinking about my interaction with the internet and particularly social media in relation to my desire to be a professor. Carr’s book may be a little old—the first edition was published in 2010—but much of what he says is prevalent and predictive of what has happened with the internet and to our attention spans and memory.
I returned to Carr’s 2020 edition of the book, in which he added more engagement with internet-enabled phones and social media. His basic argument is that the internet is causing our thinking to become shallow because it replaces our organic memory with a technologic one. Because of this replacement, our brain doesn’t do the same work as it used to and thus cannot create the same pathways that it did before the internet. While I do not agree with the sentiment that we should not just do away with the internet (Carr does not either), it does put into perspective and help one to think about how the internet as a tool is changing our humanity.
“Every tool imposes limitations even as it opens possibilities. The more we use it, the more we mold ourselves to its form and function.” (209)
“It’s possible to think deeply while surfing the Net, just as it’s possible to think shallowly while reading a book, but that’s not the type of thinking the technology encourages and rewards.” (116)
As we enter this Fall of our Discontent (or Content?), I have created new Reading Circles that I hope will help bring out more people to read and to discuss. These Reading Circles begin in late September / early October and go through November. All of the Reading Circles will be through Zoom or other video calling technology.
Dates and times are provided at the bottom of each introduction to the Circle, along with a weekly syllabus. Times are provided for the major North American time zones; please note that this is for brevity and not exclusion. If you are not in those time zones and feel you can make the Reading Circle, please apply. I hope these Circles can be robust and dynamic in the views and experiences that people bring to the table.
Gender, Sexuality, and Faith: Transgender Histories and Theologies
The Gender, Sexuality, and Faith Reading Circle will be turning from Mormonism, gender, and sexuality, to thinking deeply about how to theologize and sanctify bodies of all type.
In order to love others, as disciples of Christ are asked to do, we must understand other people—their experiences, their perspectives, their histories, and their theologies. All of these are in plural forms because one person does not represent, indeed cannot be representative of, all people collected and organized into our various spectrums of identities. Furthermore, in order to understand people, everyone must do their part to create welcoming and nourishing (not just accepting) environments, places in which people feel comfortable and safe sharing their selves.
As an attempt at thinking deeply through lay theology in a group, the Gender, Sexuality, and Faith Reading Circle invites you to apply for a six-week reading group that will read through Susan Stryker’s Transgender History and various articles on the intersections of transgender studies and theology. Together, we will discuss how to theologize the trans* body as a heavenly and celestial part of the body of Christ. I envision this group will focus on Christian doctrine and theology broadly (although, knowing my own background and my personal social media reach, it will most likely favor Latter-day Saint theology).
Each week, we will read a chapter of Transgender History and pair it with an article in a large umbrella of transgender theology (being theological works by or about transgender people).
Members of the Reading Circle will need to obtain a copy of Transgender History (second edition), but the articles will be provided through Dropbox.
Sundays, October 4, 2020 to November 8, 2020
Pacific time: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Mountain time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Central time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Eastern time: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Week 1: Introductions | Marcella Althaus-Reid, “Outing Theology: Thinking Christianity out of the Church Closet.”
Week 2: Chp. 1 Contexts, Concepts, and Terms | Susannah Cornwall, “Intersex and Transgender People,” Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender
Week 3: Chp. 2 A Hundred-Plus Years of Transgender History | Christina Hutchins, “Holy Ferment: Queer Philosophical Destabilizations and the Discourse on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Lives in Christian Institutions.”
Week 3: Chp. 3 Trans Liberation | Kelly Kraus, “Queer Theology: Reclaiming Christianity for the LGBT Community.”
Week 4: Chp. 4 The Difficult Decades | Susannah Cornwall, “Recognizing the Full Spectrum of Gender? Transgender, Intersex and the Futures of Feminist Theology.”
Week 5: Chp. 5 The Millennial Wave | Elyse J. Raby, “‘You knit me together in my mother’s womb’: A Theology of Creation and Divine Action in Light of Intersex.”
Week 6: Chp. 6 The Tipping Point? | Dawne Moon and Theresa W. Tobin, “Sunsets and Solidarity: Overcoming Sacramental Shame in Conservative Christian Churches to Forge a Queer Vision of Love and Justice” | Conclusions
Founding Potentials and Philosophies of the American Project
As we enter a new voting season, it is an excellent time to return to the founding documents of the American project in order to discuss, analyze, and interrogate the principles upon which the United States of America were founded.
The founding documents we will be working with each week will be the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederacy, United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, and all 85 Federalist papers.
Instead of discussing current trends in politics, whether progressive, conservative, or liberal, this group will focus on the principles and philosophies implanted in the actual documents, discussing what they say rather than how they have interpreted since being written. In this effort, we will be doing our own interpretations, but my hope is to have the time and space to talk about what the documents actually say and what those words mean—positively and negatively.
Members of the Reading Circle will be able to use these texts in whatever form they have. Personally, I will be using online versions for the first two weeks and then reading from the Penguin Classics edition of The Federalist Papers. Various forms of these publications are welcome, though, since other publishing houses provide different footnotes and insights into the text that members of the group can bring to the Reading Circle.
Saturdays, September 19, 2020 to October 31, 2020
Pacific time: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Mountain time: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Central time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Eastern time: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Week 1: Introductions, Declaration of Independence
Week 2: Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution
Week 3: Federalist 1–22
Week 4: Federalist 23–46
Week 5: Federalist 47–66
Week 6: Federalist 67–85
Week 7: Conclusion
Apply here. All Hamilton references are welcome and encouraged.
SF Studies: Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction
SF is a broad term that encompasses, for me, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fictions that use other worlds and otherworldly ideas to interrogate the world around us (or the world around which the author lives). The SF Studies Reading Circle will be a series of Reading Circles that look deeply at various texts from SF Studies to discuss them chapter-by-chapter. Signing up for this Reading Circle signs you up to discuss our first book, John Rieder’s Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction.
One of the founding studies in SF studies, Rieder’s Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction engages with 19th- and 20th-century science fiction and its relationship to colonialism and imperialism. It looks at the founding of the genre (if one can consider SF having a certain founding) and how it was affected by the cultural conventions of the day.
Members of the Reading Circle will need to obtain a copy of Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction.
Wednesdays, October 7, 2020 to November 11, 2020
Pacific time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Mountain time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Central time: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Eastern time: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Chapter 1: Introduction: The Colonial Gaze and the Frame of Science Fiction
Week 3: Chapter 2: Fantasies of Appropriation: Lost Race and Discovered Wealth
Week 4: Chapter 3: Dramas of Interpretation
Week 5: Chapter 4: Artificial Humans and the Construction of Race
Week 6: Chapter 5: Visions of Catastrophe | Conclusion
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.Ether 12:4
The essays are meant to be a broad look into the intersections of Mormonism and SF, both terms used in their broadest of sense. Essays can be academic in nature or thought-provoking in intent. My hope is to provide the Science Fiction Research Association community with an introductory look into this very important intersection because Mormonism and science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction have always walked hand-in-hand, as Mormons/Latter-day Saints have dreamt of a better world now and other worlds in the future—even worlds that they might be able to create and populate one day.
Abstracts aren’t due until March 1, 2021, so I’ll be sharing this more often when that comes around. But I figured I’d let it be on everyone’s radar.