Greetings from the Chair

Dear GDR Graduates, Students, Faculty, and Friends, A year ago in our summer newsletter, I wrote of transitions, and now, somewhat to my own surprise, I find myself turning to the same topic again. Of course, transitions are part of the rhythm of the academic year, and from that perspective it is no surprise that we celebrate a wonderful graduating class yet again, along with annually awarded honors and prizes.  But we must also mark other departures from our community, while celebrating what their lives and work have meant to us.  Most of all, we mark the death and honor the life and work of our most beloved colleague Otto Maduro, who passed away on May 9th of this year, at the still-youthful age of 68, having served on Drew’s faculty for twenty-one years.  It was the enormous good fortune of our community to be able to enjoy with Otto and his family, in Drew’s Craig Chapel on May 3rd, a “celebration of life,” as he put it—of his life, and also of the great gift of life itself, which Otto embodied so wonderfully. We also face changes in leadership.  This summer Theological School Dean Jeffrey Kuan leaves Drew to […]

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CCGC Report: Spring 2013

The Center for Christianities in Global Contexts (CCGC) continues to play an active role in the life of the Theological School. Pursuant of its goal of facilitating sustained reflections on global Christianities, the center organized forums on Cross Cultural Travel, as well as a lunchtime conversation with Rev. Dr. Mercy Amba Oduyoye, one of the leading voices on African Theology broadly, and African Women’s Theology in particular. Cross Cultural Travel and Global Christianities The purpose of forums on “Cross Cultural Travel and Global Christianities” grows out of the center’s goal of highlighting the complex realities of global Christianities. But the forums also attend to the ongoing curriculum of the Theological School, precisely, its M.Div. Cross Cultural course. The first of such forums was organized on October 24, 2012, and the focus of the event was on Turkey. The conversation was led by Drew faculty member, Dr. Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and some of the students who had returned from a trip to Turkey. The presentation and resulting rich conversation examined how the experience of Cross Cultural travel itself brought to sharper focus such important issues as the overlaps between national, religious (Muslim, Christian, Jewish), and cultural identities in Turkey, and the resulting […]

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Eco-Justice Tour and Conference

Coming on the heels of this year’s Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, entitled “Common Good(s): Economy, Ecology and Political Theology,” the student group TERRA (Transforming Environmental and Religious Resources into Action) organized a day-long Eco-Justice Tour and Conference  to explore these themes via an action research pedagogical approach.  It was a smashing success!  The event drew in diverse members of the Drew community, including faculty, staff, and students of the GDR as well as undergraduates and members of the local community.  The transformations experienced by participants demonstrated the power of collaboration between scholars of religion and their clergy counterparts. The morning began with a plenary session entitled “Political Patterns,” which reviewed the sociological and ethical dimensions of ecological injustice.  Theology and Philosophy doctoral student Shelley Dennis opened with a summary of the political dynamics driving ecological injustice and highlighting the unique role that people of faith can play in solving these problems because of their strong commitments to social justice and care for the earth. Dr. Laurel Kearns revealed startling statistics about the disproportionate exposure to environmental toxins based upon racial and economic factors.  Religion and Society doctoral student Fernando Linhares recounted his experiences growing up in the Ironbound and working for […]

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Greetings from the Chair

Dear GDR Graduates, Students, Faculty, and Friends, It was wonderful to see many of you at the AAR/SBL in Chicago last November and to share in the celebration of Otto Maduro’s presidency of the AAR!  In the meantime, a new year has arrived and indeed is well under way.  I hope that 2013 has begun happily for all of you. This issue features the heritage of Liturgical Studies at Drew.  You will find articles on faculty member Heather Elkins (who reminisces about the history of the program), on alumnus Neal Presa (recent elected leader of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.), and on current student Michael Sniffen (widely noted for his leadership in the Occupy Wallstreet and Sandy movements). You will also find an article on the twelfth Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, which took place February 7-10, under the leadership of Drew faculty members Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Catherine Keller, and Elias Ortega-Aponte. The theme was “Common Good(s): Economy, Ecology, Political Theology,” and the conversations that stretched across the range of activist workshops, public lectures, grad student papers, and scholarly colloquium were extraordinarily stimulating.  Among the GDR alums who participated were Sharon Betcher and Won-Hee Anne Joh. We have also included brief notes on some […]

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Report from the Center for Christianities in Global Contexts

The CCGC entered its 6th year working to build and expand on the tremendous work of the previous years. The focus for this expansion was twofold: First, to integrate more explicitly and fully the center’s interests in global Christianities with the curricular goals of the Theological school defined and pursued in its Cross Cultural education. Second, to foster partnerships with institutions of Theological and religious education in the global South and East, that will serve as “hosts” for concrete discussions and collaborations towards the establishment of a program of global Theological Education that is attentive to contextual variety and global networking. CCGC Hosts the Singing Priest of India On Tuesday September 25, the Center for Christianities in Global Contexts (CCGC) hosted its first event of the year– a performance of Indian classical music – in Craig Chapel. The group of four performers was led by Fr. Paul Poovathingal who is known as the “Padum Pathiri,” meaning “The singing priest of India.” The evening began with welcome remarks from the Director of the center, Dr. Kenneth Ngwa, followed by remarks from Dr. Wesley Ariarajah (Professor of Ecumenical Theology and World Christianity), and from Janessa Chastain (president of the Theological Students Association) […]

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Drew at the AAR/SBL

Drew has much to celebrate at AAR and SBL this year!  Kicking off the excitement, the November meeting of the American Academy of Religion marks the close of Otto Maduro’s term as president of the Academy.  Among his presidential duties, Professor Maduro chose the theme of the annual meeting.  While Dr. Maduro describes the theme as “little more than an informal magnet, not mandatory for program units, he acknowledges that it affirms the importance of a certain topic.”  That topic—Migrants’ Religions Under Imperial Duress—reflects not only Otto’s area of passion, but also the vibrancy of activist scholarship at Drew. Otto will deliver the presidential address Saturday at 8pm.  In his talk, entitled Reflections on Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics in the Study of the Religious “Stranger,” Otto will invite us to reflect on the need to appreciate and explore the complex interconnections between how we know and use what we know, our ethics, and the power structures which bind them both, shaping our perceptions of the religious other. This world-traveling lecturer, prolific author, and polyglot teacher finds good company at Drew.  Many of his colleagues share his focus on the interrelation of religious traditions (the Christian churches in particular) and the […]

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Activist Priest Roy Bourgeois Visits Drew, Honors the Memory of Professor I …

On September 11 and 12, in celebration of the work and legacy of Professor Ada-Maria Isasi-Diaz, Father Roy Bourgeois delivered a series of lectures on topics that were at the center of Dr. Isasi-Diaz’s concerns, research, writing, and teaching–“The Contemporary Struggle for Women’s Ordination in the Roman Catholic Church,” “Marielitos: Cuban Exiles in U.S. Prisons,” and “The School of the Americas: A U.S. Training Camp for Latin American Dictators and Torturers.”  Audiences were deeply moved by the power of his prophetic voice and the witness of his fight for justice. Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who hails from Louisiana, has been working for decades in solidarity with the victims of human rights violations in and from Latin America, among others.  He is particularly known for his work as founder of the School of Americas Watch.  This organization researches and informs the public about the US Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains hundreds of Latin American soldiers in combat skills each year. For more information on Father Bourgeois, visit: http://www.speakoutnow.org/userdata_display.php?modin=50&uid=26 http://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/father-roy-bourgeois, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Bourgeois

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TTC XI: Divinanimality: Creaturely Theology

Drew’s Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium began in 2001. The formula was simple but effective: settle on a topic that pushes the envelope of contemporary theological discourse; invite a dozen or so scholars associated with that topic to Drew; seat them around a table with Drew faculty who pursue related research; and discuss pre-circulated papers in a public forum with opportunities for audience participation. Other features of TTC that quickly became standard were the one-day graduate student colloquium; supplementation of the scholarly colloquium with public lectures, when the colloquium topic warranted it; and publication of the colloquium proceedings most years, mainly in a special series created by Fordham University Press. The topic of TTC XI, which ran from September 29 through October 2, was “Divinanimality: Creaturely Theology.” The neologism of the main title was borrowed from Jacques Derrida, whose philosophical work on animality, together with that of other prominent theorists, notably Donna Haraway, has catalyzed the emergence of a transdisciplinary endeavor variously termed “animal studies,” “animality studies,” or “posthuman animality studies.” TTC XI was conceived as an attempt to triangulate these novel reflections on humanity and animality with reflections on divinity. The resources for such reflection seemed considerable, since all Christian scripture […]

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