Methodists, Family Life, and Contraception: A History (by Ashley Boggan)

As some of you might know, I have been for several years a copy editor for the journal Methodist History. This peer-reviewed journal regularly has articles on the history of global missions, various aspects of the Wesley families, stories of defunct colleges, and interesting stories about preachers in the Methodist tradition, broadly defined. A few years ago I published an article in the journal on the Methodist Bishop’s declaration of Altizer’s theology as heresy.  In the new issue, I was very much impressed with Ashley Boggan’s article, “A God-Sent Movement: Methodism, Contraception, and the Protection of the Methodist Family, 1870-1968,” a link to the article is below. In particular I appreciated the fresh approach to the history of sexuality being told here within the context of the history of Methodism, particularly in the post-Civil War period, especially in light of the national press that the United Methodist Church has received in the past two years about its teachings on homosexuality.  I asked Ms. Boggan if she would like to write a guest post for AUFS to introduce her research to a wider and different audience.  Ashley Boggan is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at Drew, with a focus on American religious history, and is working as an intern with the United Methodist denomination’s Human Sexuality Task Force.  The following is her introduction to the article.

Methodists, Family Life, and Contraception: A History

When one discusses the United Methodist Church and its position regarding human sexuality what most likely comes to mind is the denomination’s current impasse regarding homosexuality.  For over forty years now, the UMC has upheld its position in the Book of Disciple which states that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”  However, by looking at a larger notion of human sexuality, one that moves beyond the homosexual/heterosexual binary, academics, clergy, and lay persons can learn what historical events and reasonings, both secular and theological, led to particular stances on human sexuality, why denominations still uphold these stances (or why some have changed their stances), and why many Americans hold certain (and often differing) ideologies of family life and constructions of human sexuality. Read the rest of this entry »

Subverting the Norm 3: Call for Papers and Conference Announcement

The Subverting the Norm conference series is unique in bringing theologians, philosophers, and religious studies scholars together with religious practitioners to encourage collaborative conversations about how continental philosophy can both inspire radical theologies within the academy and energize contemporary Christian discourse and practice. The third Subverting the Norm conference will specifically examine this intersection of theology, philosophy and lived religion in the light of contemporary political questions, both theoretical and practical. In particular, we hope to bring to the fore issues of race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity – issues that have too often been eclipsed or marginalized in postmodern, political and postsecular theological discourse and church practice.

We would like to invite proposals for 1) individual papers, 2) panels of papers or workshop sessions, and 3) performance/art pieces (including transformance art/worship events, poetry/prose readings, art exhibitions, etc.) related to the conference theme. We are especially interested in presenters who can bridge the gap between the academy and the church, and whose presentations are accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike. Preference will be given to presentations that connect not only with the academic community but with church audiences as well.

About Subverting the Norm III
Keynote speakers include Catherine Keller, J. Kameron Carter, John D. Caputo, Sarah Morice Brubaker, Sandhya Jha, Namsoon Kang, Peter Rollins, and more TBA

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Strangest and weirdest stories in the Bible?

As I am finishing up my second lectionary preaching book, tentatively titled The World is Crucifixion and under contract, for the first time in my preaching ministry I am going completely off-lectionary for a series on the strangest or weirdest stories in the Bible, beginning the last Sunday in Christmastide to the final Sunday of Epiphany, which is traditionally Transfiguration Sunday.  The final “strange story” will be the transfiguration.

Obviously, what I think are weird stories from the Bible might be different from what others think.  Here’s a list I’ve assembled from some internet searching about what people think are strange stories in the Bible: Read the rest of this entry »

Advent 4 Sermon: “Come, Lord Jesus”

This is the draft of this coming Sunday’s sermon at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown, PA.  I took a few ideas from John Vest’s sermon, “Who Are You?” and some things I’m working through in Catherine Keller’s new book, The Cloud of the Impossible, which I am reading to follow along with the next AUFS book event. The lections are Exodus 20:15-21 and 1 John 1:1-2:1a.

Christmas is finally here. Well, almost. The excitement is everywhere, and I will tell you it has been a little nuts in my house the past few weeks. But there is something just magical about Christmas.

In our reading today, from 1 John 1, the author writes that “If we say we have fellowship in [God] while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true,” and “[i]f we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Finally, a famous line of scripture:  “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” Read the rest of this entry »

Historic Gift Given to General Theological Seminary

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk in the past weeks about the future of seminary education, which has been prompted by scandals at a handful of fairly prominent East Coast seminaries.  Information for some of these scandals has been kind of hard to come by and rather gossipy–twitter reports about who did and did not attend Andover Newton’s presidential inauguration, for example–but some new information and resolution has emerged about the situation at General Theological Seminary in NYC.

If you haven’t been following, the majority of their faculty made a statement that they are unwilling to work with the new President and Dean, and the board of the seminary responded by accepting their resignations.

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Interview with D. G. Leahy

AUFS reader, Aimee Quesada, passed along this link with a great interview with the late D. G. Leahy.  Here it is.

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Sunday’s sermon: “Black Bodies Matter”

Here is my draft for my upcoming sermon at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Dallastown, PA.  The lection is Matthew 15:21-28 (Jesus and the Canaanite Woman) and I will be using this video of Bill Cosby explaining black epistemology video in the service.

In our scripture reading Jesus encounters the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus  for help with her daughter.  And he remains silent, and ignores her.  And then his disciples ask him to answer, by sending her away, and he does, saying, “I was only sent for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”  In other words, you’re not the right race.

Then she fell to her knees, begging for help, and Jesus again makes a racist judgment, “It’s not fair to take the food from us and give it to the dogs!”  Clearly, equating the woman as a dog. Read the rest of this entry »

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