Thursday, September 17, 2015

Carl E. Schorske

I was in the middle of my dissertation research and writing when I noticed that a small conference was happening at the University of Edinburgh, only an hour away from my home in St. Andrews. The conference was called "Continuities and Discontinuities in the Austrian 20th Century." Perhaps not the most exciting title to the layperson's eye, but to a budding Schoenberg scholar, I recognized in the title the influence of a number of the key scholars that I was reading. One of the keynotes, Christopher Hailey, was a prominent Schoenberg scholar, whose work I was referencing almost daily, so I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. And off I went on the train to Edinburgh for a number of very exciting and helpful days of papers and conversation.

As I contemplated this conference, I had no idea that I would also meet one of the most influential historians to the scope of my work on Arnold Schoenberg: Carl E. Schorske. Prof. Schorske was the guest of honor at this conference. It was such an privilege to hear him speak and to meet him. His book, Fin de siècle Vienna, gave me language to address the complex world of early 20th century Vienna, the world of Freud, Wittgenstein, Kraus, Kokoschka, Mahler (Alma and Gustav!), and, of course, Schoenberg. In person, he was kind, thoughtful, and sharp. And wouldn't you know it, he was a violinist. 

I think it was his approach to interdisciplinary discourse that impacted me the most in his writing. He had such skill in writing about music, the arts, philosophy, public discourse, politics, etc. He respected each discipline and moved in and out of different disciplines with wisdom, skill, and ease. As I struggled to write and research in a similar vein, I envied and admired his depth and breadth of knowledge.  

In this life, we rarely get to meet our heroes, but it was a privilege to meet Prof. Schorske. He seemed to be a truly kind and full human being. I'm sorry to hear that he died earlier this week, but I am grateful that he lead such a long and fruitful life. I'm grateful for his books. Life was richer with him teaching and writing! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

A New Year, And Many Reading Pod Options!

Every year I give a number of various options for in-class Reading Pod Discussion Groups. To help you learn more about these various kinds of theologies and theologians, here is the list of options. Follow the links for more information. I will also give a short description of each the first day of class.

Here is a link for why there are so many options: Why Reading Pods?

Here are the reading options for the Reading Pods:
  • Black Liberation Theology:
    • Selections from Carter, Cone, Hopkins, and Baker-Fletcher
  • Anabaptist:
    • Selections from McClendon, Yoder, Finger, and Weaver
  • Baptist: Stan Grenz
    • Theology for the Community of God, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000.
  • Church Fathers:
    • Christopher A. Hall, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers, Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2002.
  • Eastern Orthodox:
    • Selections from Stavropoulos, Lossky, Zizioulas, and Ware.
  • Feminist Theology:
    • Selections from Johnson, Soskice, McFague, Gonzalez, Storkey, and Gilliss.
  • Womanist/Mujerista/Post-Colonial Theology:
    • Selections from Baker-Fletcher, Joh, Oduyoye, Grant, Isasi-Díaz, Kwok, etc.
  • South and Central American Liberation Theology:
    • Jon Sobrino and Ignacio Ellacuria, eds., Systematic Theology: Perspectives from Liberation Theology, Orbis Books, 1996.
  • Reform (German): Jürgen Moltmann
    • Selections from Trinity and the Kingdom, God in Creation, and The Crucified God.
  • Reform (British): Colin Gunton
    • The Christian Faith, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
  • Reform (American): Kathryn Tanner
    • Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity, Edinburgh, UK: T&T Clark, 2001.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I Keep Thinking About Masculinity/ies

I was reading the NYTimes today and ran across an article about the establishment of the first Master's Degree in Masculinities Studies at SUNY at Stony Brook. Dr. Michael Kimmel is the founder of this egalitarian area of masculinities studies, and has been an advocate for rethinking scholarship on gender and masculinity in the light of feminism, having established The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities a number of years ago. Read the NYTimes article here:

All of this lead me to explore, once again, what our culture says about "being a man" today. I'm amazed at the conversation that has formed in the past decade or so around the definition of masculinity and maleness. The American conversation, in particular, seems to signal a kind of crisis, as if the headlines of the news do not remind us on a daily basis that we have no idea what it means to be a man, much less human. Dr. Kimmel's argument is that we need multiple definitions of masculinity if we are to have a more holistic view of what it means to be a man.

For example, (get ready for a small rant...) it is disturbing to me that a bully and misogynist, such as Donald Trump, can come out of the first Republican Presidential debate as the most anticipated and talked about candidate. In the coverage these past few days, I almost forgot that experienced politicians like Jebb Bush and Chris Christy were running. Regardless of anyone's opinion of their tenure as leaders, they have both been governors of large states at key moments of chaos and tragedy. At least we can debate their records and their experience leading their states. Trump, on the other hand, is congratulated for his business acumen and lack of political experience, yet he has no real sense of how to create or nurture community in such a complicated and diverse country as the USA. He wants to make America great again, but I'm not quite sure what he means by that. He seems to have an antiquated view of success and the "great American way." Sure, it has worked for him, but I would love to have a conversation about the true human and environment costs of his successes. A true political leader thinks of more than money and power, he thinks about future generations and the consequences of his actions for communities other than one's own. All that to say, even when it comes to politics, it seems that we Americans don't quite know how to assess masculinity and leadership capacity and quality. We would much rather savor the spectacle of "plain-spoken" bravado and condescending swagger. (OK, rant over... oh, I just love presidential election years...)

In this light, I found a few provocative videos about masculinity in America. More thoughts will follow in the days and months ahead, as they always do, but most likely in fragments as time allows...

The first video is a trailer for documentary made by the same team that created "Miss Representation" a few years back: "The Mask You Live In."

The second video is of a TEDx Baltimore talk by Joe Ehrmann, "Be A Man!!" This is a thought provoking talk in the language of sports.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Little Something for International Women's Day

Here is a Ted Talk by Isabel Allende. I love how she talks about living passionately, and how she talks of the accomplishments of other women. Who are the favorite women in your life? In history?

Monday, March 2, 2015

One more video ... or two

OK, a few trailers and videos about manhood:


Mansome from Wheelhouse Creative on Vimeo.

A Few Duplass Brothers's Movies (always about manhood, masculinity, growing up, etc.). I wrote a blog post about their movies awhile back, check it out:

Safety Not Guaranteed:

Jeff Who Lives at Home:

The Puffy Chair:

One of my favorite coming of age movies in recent times, The Way, Way Back: