Dr. David Johns, Associate Professor of Theology at ESR, has developed a class that goes into issues of migration and immigration. With his permission, I am posting the syllabus for the class for those who might be interested in going into greater depth on the issues of theology as they relate to migration and immigration.
Topics in Theology: “Migrant, Pilgrim, Passport People”
The human story is a story of movement. From the beginning of time we have been looking for something and that search leads us to move, to travel to a place somewhere else. Whether that search is for shelter, employment/work, safety, spiritual illumination, or adventure, it has meant that people have uprooted themselves or have themselves been uprooted in order to live. Even metaphorically faith is characterized as a journey, a pilgrimage, a wandering, and the major figures of the world’s religions have moved and traveled either out of necessity or calling: Siddhartha, Abraham, Ruth, Mohammad, Jesus, José and Maria.
This course is a theology of travel. How do we reflect creatively and critically on the phenomena of human movement? How do the various motivations and circumstances of movement reflect the states and conditions of humanity? How is travel related to hope, desperation, justice, promise? What role does economic and social privilege play in understanding our own movement and that of others? How does being a migrant or a pilgrim differ from being a passport(ed) person? Has educational and religious travel become voyeuristic? And how do we consider theologically ways to accompany other travelers rather than making them objects of consumer focus?
Theologically, it will be rooted in incarnation and in a creation-based ecclesiology that locates legitimacy in God’s authorizing of human existence (making the entire earth home) in contrast to temporal authorizing agencies (states) which limit movement by restricting identity to spheres of boundaried control.
Themes to be discussed (tentative)
Week 1: Introductory lecture
Week 2: Biblical study (OT)
Week 3: Biblical study (NT)
Week 4: Space & embodiment
Week 5: Pilgrimage (non-religious)
Week 6: Pilgrimage (religious)
Week 7: (im)migration
Week 8: (im)migration
Week 9: Refugee
Week 10: Displacement & extraterritoriality
Week 11: Passport travel (adventure)
Week 12: Passport travel (illumination)
Week 13: Passport travel (mission/education)
Week 14: Otherwise Documented Church
Week 15: Moving Theology
Austin, Ron. Peregrino: a Pilgrim Journey into Catholic Mexico. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.
Baumann, Zygmunt. Wasted Lives: Modernity & Its Outcasts. Cambridge: Polity Books, 2004.
Groody, Daniel G. and Gioacchino Campese, eds., A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.
Levitt, Peggy. God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing Religious Landscape. New York: The New Press, 2007.
Rieger, Joerg. Traveling. Christian Explorations of Daily Living. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011.
Steves, Rick. Travel as a Political Act. New York: Nation Books, 2009.