Sewanee: School of Theology Theses 2023


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Preaching Through Prolonged Climate Crisis
    (University of the South, 2023-03-28) Devall IV, Frederick DuMontier
    What can the church say that is both different and more effective than secular responses to chronic societal crises? Our parishioners have feet in both worlds. They are definitely hearing the cultural responses to crises. What are they hearing from the church if anything at all? Are the sermons they are hearing offered on a "one and done" basis or over time through an intentional tracking? Through this project, I will review scholarly literature on crisis preaching and climate crisis preaching and analyze some exemplary sermons that engage the climate crisis to articulate best insights and practices for preaching during times of chronic crises. I will then propose my own crisis preaching rubrics, which I will then use to evaluate three of my sermons that address the crisis of climate change with particular attention to the local issue of hurricanes and land loss in Louisiana.
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    The Search for Common Ground: Howard Thurman's Theological Vision and the Post-Pandemic Episcopal Church
    (University of the South, 2023-05) Greer, Hilary Anne
    For decades, The Episcopal Church has been experiencing seismic change. In many 'ways, the COVID-19 pandemic intensified and accelerated trends already long underway, while also laying bare the social divisions of race and wealth that mark our nation and our world. How our society reorders itself in the wake of the pandemic is not morally or theologically neutral. The stakes are high, and so is the call for faithful witness and moral leadership. The Episcopal Church is called today to cast a theological vision that frames the fundamental questions of our time: who are we meant to be — as people, as a nation, and as a world? What does collective human flourishing look like? How do we move forward together to achieve it? Howard Thurman devoted his life to seeking the thread of the eternal God that bound together humanity and could lead to common ground. The upheavals of war, pandemic, white supremacy, and social change marked his time as they do our own. This thesis aims to sketch the history and trends that shape our nation and The Episcopal Church in 2023. It then considers Howard Thurman's life, context, and creation theology in his mature work The Search for Common Ground as sources of wisdom for our own quest for common ground in today's divided world. Finally, it adapts Howard Thurman' s creation theology as a framework for theological reflection on the experience of the pandemic, considering the theological vision The Episcopal Church is called to proclaim and embody today.
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    "I Sing Night and Day": The Spiritual Songs of Elias Neau in the Atlantic World
    (University of the South, 2023-05) Richter, Anne Fontaine Downs
    This thesis examines the life and writings of Elias Neau (1662-1722), a Huguenot sailor, merchant and catechist for the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). I argue that Neau's devotional cantiques, written in French and influenced by European devotional movements, provide insight into the early catechetical practices in the mainland colonies and highlight the role of singing and affective religion, more than thirty years before the First Great Awakening brought revivalist practices to enslaved Africans. I first trace Neau’s travels throughout the Atlantic world, from his childhood in France, to the West Indies, to Puritan Boston, to his imprisonment in Louis XIV’s galleys and prisons in Marseilles, to his life in New York as a catechist for the SPG. In studying Elias Neau as a “man of the Atlantic World,” I am able to show the complex interrelationship of experiences and opinions that formed his life and work. In exploring Neau’s school for the enslaved in New York, I am able to examine what we know about the lives of his students, and I expose the troubles and conflicts that Neau faced in his controversial work. In order to understand Neau’s writings, I outline the varied affective movements so prevalent across the Atlantic World in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. I then specifically analyze the content of Neau’s cantiques and the influence of European affective religion on Neau’s own beliefs. I concentrate on describing five prominent themes in Neau’s cantiques: creation as the “divine mirror” of its all-powerful Sovereign; the sinner’s need for grace and divine sanctification; the desire for union with God; personal salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ; and the place of human suffering in obtaining a heavenly reward. I then set each theme in its context, pointing to other works that reflect similar concepts.