The Sacred Art of Reading
Application open until June 30, 2023 / Cohort begins Oct 4-7, 2023
Led by Chris E.W. Green
The Sacred Art of Reading cohort will be dedicated to collaboration in “the forbidding discipline of spiritual reading,” confident that such an undertaking cultivates the loving attentiveness, prophetic discernment, and childlike openness to surprise that characterize what St. Paul calls the faith that works by love. Such work is always needed, of course, for the church to fulfill its mission. But it is perhaps especially needed now, when dominant cultural and political forces incentivize and accelerate conflict, playing up the most extreme voices, pressuring us to attend only to what troubles or offends us, acclimatizing us to all kinds of violence, so that it becomes harder and harder to engage in good faith. Under such conditions, thinking deteriorates, and we find ourselves speaking up only to rebuke or refute those we feel are wrong.
Bearing these challenges in mind, the cohort is designed to cultivate an alternative awareness, one shaped by the slow, painstaking work of collaborative interpretation. And to that end, the heart of the program is the reading of the Christian Scriptures. The aim will be both philosophical and devotional, critical and celebratory, mystical, and pastoral. No one reading method will be stipulated, but students will be encouraged to find ways to honor the traditions of the communities in which they learned to argue, to muse, and to pray.
Besides Scripture, the cohort will engage a wide range of texts including poems, memoirs, essays, treatises, sermons, and stories old and new, familiar, and strange, sacred and “worldly,” in part and in whole, not so much in order to “plunder the Egyptians” as to bear glad witness to the wonder that God is never left without a witness because all truth, truly received, trues.
There are two week-long seminars per year, most meeting at WTS in Holland, Michigan. One or two monastic retreats are planned with the location TBD. Students must be able to participate fully in all the required seminars
In addition to determining student projects, the first year will be dedicated to close reading of select Old Testamentnarratives (especially the Abraham, Moses, and David stories), as well as the following primary texts:
- Peterson’s Eat This Book and As Kingfishers Catch Fire;
- Robert Alter’s The Hebrew Bible;
- Elie Wiesel’s Messengers of God;
- Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s Moses: A Human Life;
- Daniel Berrigan’s Exodus: Let My People Go;
- Frances Young’s Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture;
- Robert Jenson’s Canon and Creed and The Triune Story: Collected Essays;
- Kate Sonderegger’s Systematics Vol 1: The Doctrine of God;
- Jean-Louis Chrétien’s Under the Gaze of the Bible;
- René Girard’s Deceit, Desire, and the Novel;
- George Saunders, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain;
- Claude Atcho, Reading Black Books.
The second year will be focused on biblical poetry and wisdom literature, especially the Psalms, Job, and passages from the prophets, as well as these primary texts:
- Peterson’s Answering God and Leap Over a Wall;
- Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Poetry (rev. );
- Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s The Murmuring Deep;
- David Sheehan’s The Psalms of David;
- Rowan Williams’ The Edge of Words;
- Kevin Hart’s Poetry and Revelation;
- Jean-Louis Chrétien’s Spacious Joy;
- Daniel Berrigan’s Jeremiah: the World the Wound of God;
- Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms (Codex Monacensis Graecus)
The third year will engage the Gospels, the Apocalypse, and these primary texts:
- Peterson’s Reversed Thunder;
- David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament (rev. ed.);
- Amy Jill Levine’s Short Stories by Jesus;
- John Behr’s John the Theologian and His Paschal Gospel;
- Michel Henry’s Words of Christ;
- Howard Thurman’s Sermons on the Parables and Jesus and the Disinherited;
- Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word Vol 1;
- Beverly Roberts Gaventa’s Mary: Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus;
- Shusako Endo’s A Life of Jesus;
- Origen’s Homilies on the Gospel of Luke.
October 4-7,2023 – Holland, MI
May 13-17, 2023 – Holland, MI | or Monastery Retreat TBD
October 2024 – Holland, MI
May 2025 – Holland, MI | or Monastery Retreat TBD
October 2025 – Holland, MI
May 2026 – Holland, MI
Tuition: $2,880 per semester for 6 semesters ($17,280)
Students are also responsible for:
program fees, travel expenses, and off-campus retreat costs
Chris E.W. Green
Lead Faculty Member
Chris Green is Professor of Public Theology at Southeastern University (Lakeland, FL) and Director for St Anthony Institute of Theology, Philosophy, and Liturgics. He received his PhD from Bangor University, Wales (UK). He is the author and editor of a number of books, including All Things Beautiful: An Aesthetic Christology, Surprised by God: How and Why What We Think about the Divine Matters, The End is Music, Being Transfigued: Lenten Homilies, and Sanctifying Interpretation: Vocation, Holiness, and Scripture.
He also serves as Canon Theologian at Sanctuary church, the place where he preaches and serves. You can find out more information by visiting his website here.
He and his wife, Julie, live in Tulsa with their three kids: Zoë, Clive, and Emery, and their Weimaraner, Auggie.
The Sacred Art of Reading
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