Sewanee: School of Theology Theses 2014


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 9
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    The Catholic Humanism of Rowan Williams
    (University of the South, 2014-04) Thompson, Zachary Robert
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    Clergy Defending Rights for All: Ecumenism and Memphis Clergy
    (University of the South, 2014-03) Snyder, Belinda Ann Wright
    This project endeavors to prepare a book on the nature and history of the clerical interfaith group, Clergy Defending Rights for All, for that organization's use to further its work.
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    A Narrative Account of the Soul
    (University of the South, 2014-03) Forti, Kenneth Nicholas
    The question of the soul in modern debates about anthropology betrays the determinative narrative of the age and its correlative metaphysics. The metaphysical commitments of much of modern science and philosophy have not only provided the foundation for the debates between physicalism and dualism, but they have set the discussion within the bounds of that debate. Theology, for its part, has largely allowed the resulting narrative to shape its own reflections on anthropology but with the addition of “God” as a character or “the spiritual” as a kind of plot device that the secular versions of the story have overlooked. For this reason, talk about the soul has become problematic for some Christian philosophers and theologians who think they recognize the-writing-on-the-wall as dualism seems to lose more and more ground to physicalism by way of advances in neuroscience. This thesis reveals the metaphysical commitments of modern science and reductionist philosophy by exploring the work of one its most prolific and well-known spokesmen, Daniel Dennett. After that, the thesis turns to the past, to see how theology has out-narrated past philosophical rivals by incorporating their best insights without abandoning Christian metaphysical claims. Accounts of the soul in Tertullian, the Cappadocians, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas provide the case study from Christian history that reveals this process. In light of this history, the thesis then turns a critical eye toward the modern Christian philosophical anthropologies of Lynne Rudder Baker and Nancey Murphy, which have intentionally rejected the soul as a result of the dialogue with science and modern philosophy of mind. This thesis argues that a truly nonreductive physicalism demands metaphysical commitments that become intelligible in a narrative such as that of the Christian tradition, a tradition that is not essentially dualistic in its anthropology but gives an account of creation that provides for the reality of such things as bodies, persons, words, and stories as gifts whose being is contingent on God given through the Incarnation, the narrative of which provides not only being but meaning. And such a realist account of these things is, therefore, necessary for any meaningful discussion of consciousness as an aspect of human physicality and the formative narrative of that physicality, its soul.
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    Divine Beauty: Experiencing God through sight and sound
    (University of the South, 2014-03) Kelb, Sarah D.
    The purpose of this thesis is to examine divine beauty as experienced through the senses, in particularly the senses associated with sight and sound. Since Western Christian Spirituality emerged out of Eastern Christian Spirituality, this thesis will examine both traditions. This, in turn, will include specific examples of Easter music and art as well as Western music and art. It is important to point out that Divine Beauty, first and foremost, is found in all aspects of creation and nature. It’s difficult to imagine experiencing the beauty of nature without at least pondering it originating, in some way, from a divine being. That being said, this thesis closely focuses on the incarnational beauty as manifested by the creativity of human endeavors. This thesis will also offer a working definition of theological aesthetics and the reemergence of the mystical components that go along with theological aesthetics in the more recent decades. The purpose of this endeavor is to encourage the reader of this thesis to delve deeper into a more sensual and spiritual experience of God. To put it another way, this endeavor is meant to encourage the reader to gain a deeper desire for “heart, body, and soul knowledge” of God. This kind of knowledge may be difficult to experience in any other way outside of one’s senses. This deepening of “heart knowledge” of God can lead a person to experience, transcendence and/or transfiguration, which will also be outlined within this thesis. This change of being will, in turn, cause transformation. It is also important to point out that this thesis meant to, hopefully, cause the reader to desire the transformation that springs out of experiencing divine beauty. This kind of transformation may result in a person being so enraptured by God that their attitude towards God, God’s beloved, and all of God’s creation, may be changed to desire that person to love more deeply. This in turn, will result in positive action that pours out from a deep love of God. In other words, a person’s moral being is altered through being transformed from experiencing divine beauty. The concluding chapters of this thesis focus on sacrament, worship, and application, all of which are meant to show examples of how to mediate the experience of divine beauty. The two primary examples that are described are the Eucharist and Taizé style of worship. Both of these engage the senses in profound ways and when one is open to it, can cause one to experience transformation. Finally, this thesis includes two appendixes of specific images examined within this theses as well as the text of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers in hopes that the reader will desire experiencing these beautiful pieces of art that are divinely inspiring. With these specific examples along with the rest of this thesis, it is also the hope that those who are engaged in ministry, in some way, will find ways of creating a sacred space that engages the senses. Again, this will, in turn create the space to move deeper into experiencing divine beauty.