“Theology and Society” Series

This series will be on Theology and Society with talks on “Theology and the City,” “Theology and Fashion,” and “Theology and Postmodernism.”

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Theology and the City
May 25, 2004

Speaker: The Rev. John Heinemeier

What does the city need from the faith community?

A vision.
Signs of the Kingdom.
Collective faith.
An anchor.

A native Texan, Pastor John Heinemeier received his theological training at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, earning the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1963. He was ordained in Brooklyn, New York that same year and went on to serve four congregations in inner-city New York City for over thirty-one years. In addition to leading each of these four parishes to significant growth and vitality, he was involved in both Brooklyn and the South Bronx in creating powerful church-based citizens’ groups: East Brooklyn Congregations (builder of the original, world-renowned Nehemiah Houses) and South Bronx Churches, which, like EBC is building some 700 Nehemiah Homes for the working poor and is establishing, like EBC, an alternative public high school for the South Bronx community (as of 1998, second only to the Bronx High School of Science in its academic performance!).

Since coming to Roxbury in 1994, Pastor Heinemeier has been instrumental in establishing the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), which the Boston Globe called “the strongest grassroots political force this area has seen since the 1970’s” (March 19, 2000). Affordable housing and more effective public education are the issues GBIO has undertaken as its initial agenda.

Pastor Heinemeier is married to his wife, Sharon, who is teaching second grade at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School in Roxbury. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. They have purchased a condo on St. James Street in Roxbury, and both walk to work. They are delighted to be in Roxbury and in Boston and are very much looking forward to their future life and work here.

Theology and Fashion
June 1, 2004

Speaker: Ms. Barbara Boles

How do theology and fashion influence or comment on the other? We will explore this in an informal conversation about fashion and clothing, looking at what the Bible has to say, consulting with social anthropologists, theologians that might be relevant, and, of course, fashionistas – particularly those of you attending ToT that evening!

Ms. Barbara Boles has a BA in Art History from Connecticut College, and taught Art History at Gordon College from 1993-1999, in addition to designing and making costumes for a number of Gordon Players productions. She is a parishioner at the Church of the Advent, where she is involved with the parish choir, the Tuesday night supper, and liturgical vestments, both repair of old and fabrication of new low- and high- mass sets. She got started sewing her own clothes at age 11, and has been reading Vogue and Vogue Patterns since about that time.

Theology and Postmodernism
June 8, 2004

Speaker: Prof. Mark Gedney

Marx-EngelsAccording to many accounts, one of the hallmarks of the end of modernity, generally, or the Enlightenment, specifically, is the acceptance of the death of God. Along with the crumbling of traditional beliefs in the power of the human mind to know the world as it really is and confidence in utopian visions of political freedom and peace, the belief in an all-powerful, perfectly good and just God, who is the creator and sustainer of the world, was thought to have become untenable. Under the withering scrutiny of Marx’s analysis, religion was seen as an “opiate” that was used to tranquilize the masses in order to keep them from recognizing their impoverished and enslaved condition. Or, following Freud, one now could clearly see by turning one’s attention to the “psychical origin” of religious beliefs that are “given out as teachings” that such beliefs are “not the precipitates of experience or conclusions of thought: [but rather] . illusions: the fulfillment of the oldest, strongest and most pressing wishes of humanity.” Of course, one may point to the fact that people continue to believe in God, but for radical critics of modernity such facts are beside the point. Even Marx and Freud recognized the possibility that such illusions might continue to exercise great power.

Mark Gedney is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Gordon College in Wenham Massachusetts. He taught previously at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Boston University. He was also the Associate Program Coordinator for the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, held in Boston in August of 1998. Professor Gedney works and writes in the area of philosophy and religion; focusing particularly on French and German philosophers from the 19th through the 21st century. His most recent two articles, The Saving or Sanitizing of Prayer: The Problem of the Sans in Derrida’s Account of Prayer and Jaspers and Ricour on the Self and God, deal with questions concerning post-modern philosophy and its relation to traditional religious practice and belief. Professor Gedney is married with two children and lives in Gloucester.

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