Short Piece to read for Class May 1

Today’s (May 1st) response assignment is below, but just quickly: today in class we will be discussing this short piece, from Christian Century, by the scholar Kelly Baker (author of the book The Gospel According to the Klan). This is a very short essay addressing questions of the relationship between religion and violence which we were discussing last week. If you have a moment before class, give it a quick read (just click on the link above) and think about it. If interested, you may post a response here, either instead of or in addition to the civil rights movement assignment that is posted just below.

Consider these questions: Is Baker correct to assert that “Calling something evil is not analysis; it is dehumanization.” Is it useful to talk about “religion” in general as a force for “good” and/or “bad,” or is there a more analytically useful way to think about this topic? We’ll discuss these questions in class.

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Civil Rights Movement Documentary and Documents: Response due by May 1

Response due by noon, May 1st.

Watch one of the two segments of the documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” which is available on reserve in the library (look for it under our class name/number in the library reserve catalog system, or under my name). They are also available on youtube — see the links below at the bottom of this assignment. One segment is entitled “Ain’t Afraid of Your Jails,” and the other is called “No Easy Walk. After watching one of the two episodes, read this short essay by Robert Westbrook on “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and write a response of about 1 page based on anything that comes to mind after viewing the film and reading the essay. Again, due by noon on May 1. Please post here and/or email to me as usual by noon on May 1.

Note: these two episodes are also available on youtube; again, watch one of the two. Here they are:

“No Easy Walk:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ7k4wMdV5g

“Ain’t Afraid of Your Jails”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCwz5-OFYmA

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Oral Assignment for Classtime April 24th

For our “delayed” class (held over from last week’s snow day) on April 24th, there is no written response assignment due here, so you have the week “off” from that.

Instead, I will preview one assignment for next week (May 1), and give you an oral assignment to think about for tomorrow.

1. FOR APRIL 24TH CLASSTIME:

I’d like the groups listed below to read a particular written response from a student already posted for last week’s assignment, i.e. the papers about Cone’s Cross and the Lynching Tree. Each of you, grouped according to the assignment below, come prepared with an oral response (nothing written required) to these very different critiques of Cone by 4 of your classmates. Nothing formal, just read the response and tell us how you respond to the critique of Cone issued in the response. You can find all these in the “comments” section of the April 17 assignment, just scroll down.

Stephen Kynor’s response: oral discussion of it from Courtney, Meghan, and Bruce. I will then ask Stephen to respond to the responses

Nano Dolce’s response: Ray and Sam. I will then ask Nano to respond to the responses.

Sam Sells’s response: oral discussion of it from Boaz, Robert, Tara. I will then ask Sam to respond to the responses.

Ray Shaner’s response:  oral discussion of it from Nano, Rebecca, and Stephen. I will then ask Ray to respond to the responses.

2) By next week, please watch one of the two segments of the documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” which is available on reserve in the library (look for it under our class name/number in the library reserve catalog system, or under my name). They are also available on youtube — see the links below at the bottom of this assignment. One segment is entitled “Ain’t Afraid of Your Jails,” and the other is called “No Easy Walk. “Both are 50 minutes, and are about the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, covering such events as the Freedom Rides, the Nashville sit-ins, and the famous confrontation in Birmingham. After watching one of the two episodes, read this short essay by Robert Westbrook on “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and write a response of about 1 page based on anything that comes to mind after viewing the film and reading the essay. Again, due by noon on May 1. Please post here and/or email to me as usual by noon on May 1.

Note: these two episodes are also available on youtube; again, watch one of the two. Here they are:

“No Easy Walk:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ7k4wMdV5g

“Ain’t Afraid of Your Jails”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCwz5-OFYmA

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Paper and Reader Response Due April 17th

PAPER ASSIGNMENT II

Due by classtime Wednesday, April 17. Please post electronically (either here on the course website as many of you have been doing, or email to me), AND turn in to me by hard copy. This paper and your reader response will be the same assignment and will count for both.

Respond in about 3 double-spaced typed pages to one of the following.

1)    Compare and contrast the religious thought of the self-proclaimed agnostic W. E. B. DuBois with the self-proclaimed Christian James Cone, the former from Edward J. Blum’s biography, the second from Cone’s work Cross and the Lynching Tree. Where do they intersect, and where do they differ? Do their messages ultimately intersect more, or differ more? How might Cone interpret Du Bois as both a “religious” and an “anti-religious” person?

2)    Watch James Cone’s 2012 sermon to the Methodist Annual Conference on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lhPNP3GIyY (or just find by googling “James Cone Methodist Annual Conference 2012 youtube,” it should be the first hit. Note: the sermon is about 38 minutes).

Based on this sermon as well as The Cross and the Lynching Tree, prepare a summary, analysis, and critique of Cone’s presentation of the meaning of black Christianity

3)    In The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Cone spends an entire chapter developing an extended critique of Reinhold Niebuhr as a writer, thinker, and theologian. Compare and contrast Niebuhr’s writing from AR (pp. 424-434, a selection from Niebuhr’s classic The Irony of American History) with Cone’s analysis of Niebuhr. Use the same questions as posed in question #1 above.

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Next Reader Responses due April 10 — 2 assignments together

Your next reader response essays will be due by noon April 10 (there is nothing due for class by April 3).  I have asked you to prepare two responses on two different kinds of course materials, one shorter, one longer; see the assignment below. As before, please post here if you can so the rest of the class can see your responses.

1) Write any kind of response that you have to the movie The Apostle (on reserve in library and widely available elsewhere). Relate the themes of the film to the themes we’ve discussed in this class so far. One or two paragraphs is sufficient.

2) Develop a response to/critique of two of the following four, comparing and contrasting them in your response. Analyze how the two compared together address how religion interacts with power (social, political, and/or racial) in twentieth-century American society. 1 – 2 pages on the response.

a) Reinhold Niebuhr, “The Irony of American History” (424-434);
b) Abraham Joshua Heschel, “God in Search of Man” (434-447);
c) Martin Luther King, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (502-514);
d) Will Herberg, “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” (517-533).

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March 20: No Reader Response. “The Apostle” for Spring Break.

This week we’ll forego the reader response short essays, as your midterm paper is due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 22. Click the syllabus and assignments link for instructions and paper topics.

Over spring break, please watch the movie “The Apostle,” starring Robert Duvall, Farah Fawcett, and others. It will be on reserve in in the library, and it’s widely available elsewhere. I’ll ask you in the next reader response to give some kind of reaction to the film.

 

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Responses on W. E. B. DuBois

DUE BY NOON MARCH 13TH — Your response to Edward J. Blum, W. E. B. DuBois: American Prophet. Please do both of the below.

1) Write out a question (or questions) that you would like to ask the author based on your reading of W. E. B. DuBois: American Prophet. We will ask the author some of those questions when he visits us in class via Skype.

2) In 1-2 pages, respond informally to the following: Though W. E. B. DuBois professed (for a good deal of his life) to be an agnostic or atheist, author Edward J. Blum portrays him as an “American prophet.” In what ways was Du Bois a “prophet”? Based on your reading of Blum and “Of the Sorrow Songs” and “A Litany of Atlanta” (AR, 329-340), how would you describe the nature of DuBois’s work? How do you assess Du Bois’s life and work based on the introduction provided by Blum?

Note: here is an interesting interview with the author that will be of interest:
10 Questions for author Edward J. Blum

Note: since Du Bois’s most classic essay “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” is not included in our reading, we will be going over it in class; click on the link for the full essay. Here is its most famous passage, which we’ll be going over in class:

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. . . .

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