This morning the Brazos Fellows wrapped up our unit on Christianity and the image–and, what’s more, our fall term–with a conversation on icons with Dr. Natalie Carnes. Dr. Carnes is Assistant Professor of Theology at Baylor, and a constructive theologian who writes on Christology, patristic theology, theological aesthetics, images, children and childhood, and much more. The fellows and Dr. Carnes had a great discussion about the history of Christian arguments over icons and the various questions raised by images: can matter convey the reality of God? What does the incarnation change in what is possible with images? What are right uses of image in worship, and when do we need to be iconoclastic? It was a great end to our semester of study.
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Today the Brazos Fellows finished our unit on Christianity and society with a discussion of Oliver O’Donovan’s excellent little book, Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community. (Long-time readers of the blog will remember that in fall 2018 the Brazos Fellows enjoyed a lecture and evening discussion with Prof. O’Donovan.) Our class this morning was led by Dr. Anne Jeffrey, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Baylor. Dr. Jeffrey teaches and writes on metaethics, the virtue tradition of normative ethics, political and legal philosophy, bioethics, and the philosophy of religion. It was a real treat for the fellows to discuss with Dr. Jeffrey a number of interesting questions surrounding moral deliberation and what it means for Christians to live as citizens of both the “city of God” and the “city of man.”
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Editor: Please enjoy another guest post by Brazos Fellow Savannah Anne Carman.
My parents instilled a sense of propriety in my siblings and I. This sense of propriety manifested itself in family rules, such as not playing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, as well as in my parents’ method of discipline. “Is this the place?” my mom or dad would ask when we were acting out. The reminder to remember “timing” formed a lasting disposition of respect: There is a time for giving and receiving, as during Christmas, but there is also a time for gratitude, and my parents wanted us to give each practice its due time. I was reminded of this when the Brazos Fellows recently finished our unit on Christianity and the Body. Our readings included sayings by the Desert Fathers and St. Basil the Great’s On Fasting and Feasts. Contrary to popular belief, the desert Fathers’ primarily concern was not sex, but rather food. They believed that the first sin was “ravenous greed,” and thus set to order their desires, and first and foremost their desire for food.
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Considering Brazos Fellows for next year? Come on out to our free “Come & See” preview week November 18-21 and get a taste of what it’s like to be a fellow!
Join us for morning prayer, a dinner discussion, one of our Course of Study sessions, evensong, and much more: details and RSVP here.
One of our goals at Brazos Fellows is to become a genuine community of study–to learn how to think with others, and particularly, to learn how to think with the Church. Last night, Brazos Fellows hosted the first of a new series, rather mischievously named “Tipsy Orthodoxy.” The goal of this series, held at Pinewood Pub, is to invite others into the kinds of conversations we have in the fellowship, to think in public about theological questions, and, while we’re at it, to drink good beer.
Our speaker last night was Dr. Rachel Toombs, who teaches at Baylor in Religion and the Interdisciplinary Core, and serves as minister at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. Rachel spoke on “Learning Love from Leviticus: A Theological Reading of a Difficult Book,” and helped us understand how this hard-to-read book is profoundly theological. Leviticus shows shows us something about God’s relation with His people.
The Book of Leviticus, Rachel argued, echoes the first chapter of Genesis, where we see the Creator bringing order out of chaos by separating things–by putting things in their proper place. Once things are rightly ordered, God calls them “good,” and dwells at rest in the middle of His creation. This is the same concern of Leviticus: to properly separate things so as to maintain this orderly goodness so that God can dwell with His people. What looks like pointless rules or legalism, is, in fact, about what makes a rightly-ordered community, a people in which the Creator God can be present.
As you can imagine, both Rachel’s presentation and the discussion and questions that followed were very interesting. If you missed it, all the more reason to mark your calendar for the next Tipsy Orthodoxy: Tuesday, November 19, when Dr. Brendan Case will present on “Creation as Theophany.” More details on this soon.
Today our Brazos Fellows class was led by Malcolm Foley, a PhD candidate in Baylor University’s Department of Religion studying the history of Christianity, as well as a Student Regent on Baylor’s Board of Regents. Malcolm also serves as Director of Discipleship at Mosaic Waco, a church that is “gospel-centered, multi-cultural, and spirit-led.” Malcolm’s historical research looks at African American Christian responses to lynching–to get a sense of the importance of the questions he is asking, here’s a few minute video on Malcolm’s project:
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