Theological: James and Justice: An Epistle of Straw, an Intercepted Letter, or a Call to Actionj_coker

Rev. Dr. Jason Coker, Pastor, Wilton Baptist Church, Wilton, CT

From Martin Luther’s “epistle of straw” to Elsa Tamez’s “intercepted letter,” the Letter of James has certainly elicited a paradox of responses in its reception history. This class with analyze the Letter of James through the lens of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism to see how the letter carefully negotiated early Christian identity within the Roman Empire. James’s response to empire represents a “conservative” reaction to imperial demands that concentrates on purity and perfection. This rhetoric of “purity and perfection” places James at odds with other early Christian identity negotiations that were more nuanced, e.g. “I have become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Throughout the Letter of James, the importance of identity relates to James’s sense of justice. Following James’s line of argumentation will leave us asking, “How do we negotiate our own identity in the face of global empires?”

Spirituality: Age of Empathy
Shelley Dennis,  Ph.D. Candidate

Does the capacity for humane relations define the human?  In his book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, primatologist Frans de Waal suggests that the angels of our better natures may arise from our animal natures. Studying empathy in animals, de Waal explores the survival benefits of empathy and its potential political impacts.  We will use his text as a launching pad for discussions about the importance of empathy, and how we can cultivate and utilize our own empathy as we contribute to the shaping of the society in which we live.

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