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This module engages with the ‘texts’ and practices of human culture and encourages students to explore the relationship between theology and culture. Throughout we discuss key theological debates as they relate to human culture and reflect critically upon human culture through theological lenses.
The Bible is notably the most translated book in human history. Its worldwide popularity has shaped political, economic and cultural relations in societies where it is read. Its entrenchment in history has made it a language for readers, interpreters and textual critics alike who have found the Bible a useful means to address issues of concern within their contexts and so to voice various calls for social and cultural transformation. Despite the fact that the study of the Bible in its different theological forms and genres in the last two centuries, in Europe and N. America at least, has been dominated by issues of historical veracity, reliability and credibility, none of which are unimportant; biblical interpretation, meaning and function must be linked to the various contexts within which the Bible is read and in light of the readers’ experiences, insights and concerns. This module will explore how various groups, including the biblical writers themselves, have employed the biblical text as a language of liberation, reconciliation and social transformation. The cases that will be explored will include: justice for the earth; poverty and economic justice; justice for immigrants; health; gender and sexual justice as well as postcolonial and postmodern critical interrogation of the biblical text. The modalities used to examine and interpret the text will also include art, film, literature and music.
The course includes a general introduction to aesthetics and in particular to theological aesthetics, as illustrated by the central theological doctrines of the incarnation, the cross, the resurrection and the trinity. Students read and discuss relevant writings by theologians relating to themes such as imagination, beauty, divine revelation, truth and meaning and art as locus theologicus.
This module considers the phenomenon of mass consumer, technological and media mediated culture as the backdrop to spirituality and ‘doing’ theology in our age. Students will explore and analyse new patterns and habits of leisure and lifestyle in relation to older classical ideas of the same with its inherent relation to the dynamic of spiritual life. The module will also examine ways in which many aspects of mass culture mimic religious modes of orchestrating emotion and producing identity, examining the writings of sociologists, social anthropologists, social critics and theologians that seek to address and/or interpret this situation. The module will trace the emergence of different ways of interpreting the phenomenon of the ‘modern’; especially the different and diverse ways in which mass culture has been understood throughout the genesis and development of modern culture with its central reliance on science and technology. Particular attention will be paid to various key elements of the mass media and what is referred to as digital culture as well as globalization, new developments in information technology and what has become known as trans/or post-humanism.
This module aims to go beyond the headlines about the continuing decline in church member ship to equip students to critique the contemporary church using both theological and sociological tools. The church in Britain will be examined in the wider context of social, religious and cultural change, and compared with the situation in Europe, America and the developing world. The challenges facing the contemporary church and the responses it offers will be examined critically and with reference to patterns of community, mission and ministry.
In a so called ‘secular age’ has religion and more specifically Christian faith and belief simply disappeared from public view altogether? Do modern people no longer require the 'sacred canopy' of religion to feel at home in the world? Has the idea and practice of religion become so tarnished with notions of religious fundamentalism and extremism or institutional irrelevance and corruption that by and large, in Europe at least, most people leave it to a small minority of others to be religious on their behalf? Or is it the case that spirituality and religion have simply re-located elsewhere? Has popular culture become a more convenient and comfortable location for religion than our institutional churches? Do secular people now find religion in aesthetic experiences or in consumerism? Is it the new technologies of robotics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence where people locate religious motifs and future hopes? Or is secularism itself a by product of Christian freedom and responsibility in the world? In this new module we will examine these and a range of other questions as we seek to examine the equivocation and uncertainty that now surrounds the modern experience and practice of religion in the 21st century.
The images, stories, myths and teachings of the Bible have served as a foundation for theWestern cultural imagination.When read in each new cultural context, the Bible challenges readersí cultural assumptions and is challenged by readersí distinct perspectives. Students will engage in critical and creative hermeneutics as well as a deep and close reading of the Biblical texts themselves to see how these texts inform, and are informed by, human creativity. In this course we encourage students to explore a variety of original and imaginative interpretations of text.
This course will explore the growing field of theology and film. Students will become conversant in the language and history of cinema, noting specifically the unique ways in which film uses technology, editing, framing, and sound to convey meaning. After a brief introduction to film interpretation, students will then explore the historical relationship between theology and film, with specific reference to the reception (ranging from prohibition to utilisation) of film by the Christian Churches. Students will spend considerable time looking at and studying selected films, allowing students to develop the critical skills helpful for film interpretation and explore possible theological approaches to film criticism. Students will investigate the claims that contemporary film provides an alternative site or location for religion in the context of modern consumer societies. Along the way students will engage with contemporary cultural issues related to film, including the culture of online streaming and ethical issues related to gender and sexuality.