Theological Ethics Research Seminar

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Theological Ethics Research Seminar

This is a past event

The Theological Ethics Research Seminar for this term is "A Troubled Inheritance: Desire, Power and Theology Abused". The seminar will ask if—or how—we should read the works of a theologian tainted by moral failure, and will focus on the sexual scandals associated with Karl Barth, John Howard Yoder and Jean Vanier.

This will be a student led seminar chaired by Rahel Siebald, Sarah Shin and Julie Land. It will be held in person in the Divinity Library, Mondays from 2-4pm, beginning January 25th (quarantine restrictions permitting).

Given the strictures of social distancing, there will only be about 10 slots for students to participate in person. Those who would like to attend should be prepared to attend for the entire term. Please e-mail Professor Brian Brock ( if you are interested in attending in person or listening to the recordings on line.

The seminar will not be streamed live, but it will be recorded for limited distribution to distance students.

A short-form seminar schedule is below.

Jan 25 – Introduction part one

  • Serene Jones, Trauma + Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World, 2nd ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2019), “Ch. 1: Beginnings”, 1-22.

Feb 1 – Introduction part two

  •      Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (London: Yellow Kite, 2017), 18-51.
  • Christopher Craig Brittain, “On the Demonisation and Fetishisation of Choice in Christian Sexual Ethics,” Studies in Christian Ethics 2014, Vol. 27(2), 144–166.

Feb 8 - Barth: History/Biography

  • Suzanne Selinger, “Ch 1: Dramatis Personae“ in Charlotte von Kirschbaum and Karl Barth: A Study in Biography and the History of Theology, (Pennsylvania State University, 1998). 1- 20. (20 pages)
  • Christiane Tietz, “Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum” Theology Today, 2017; 74(2), 86-111. (25 pages)

Feb 15 - Barth & Charlotte von Kirschbaum: Primary sources

  • Barth on sexual ethics in the Church Dogmatics III.4, “Man and Woman,” 129-149, 181-191, 236-240. (35 pages)
  • Charlotte von Kirschbaum, “Jesus Christ and the Church” in The Question of Woman: The Collected Writings of Charlotte Von Kirschbaum. John Shepherd trans, Eleanor Jackson ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 55-75. (20 pages)

Feb 22 - Barth: Responses

  • Steven Plant, (2019). “When Karl met Lollo: the origins and consequences of Karl Barth's relationship with Charlotte von Kirschbaum.” Scottish Journal of Theology, 72(2), 127-145. (18 pages)
  • Susanne Hennecke, “Biography and theology. On the connectedness of theological statements with life on the basis of the correspondence between Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum (1925–1935)” in International journal of philosophy and theology, 19 October 2016, Vol.77(4-5), pp.324-336. (14 pages)
  • Renate Köbler, In the Shadow of Karl Barth, “Epilogue”, 125-140. (15 pages)

Mar 1 – Yoder, History/Biography

OR (Attendees can choose)

  • William Joseph (B. J.) Hutto, “Neither Grand nor Noble: An Overview and Appraisal of John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Politics”, Theses presented at University of Aberdeen, 2018. Chapter 1, pp 14-48 (34pp)

Mar 8 - Yoder: Primary sources

Mar 15 - Yoder: Responses

  • Isaac Samuel Villegas, “The Ecclesial Ethics of John Howard Yoder’s Abuse”, Modern Theology, 11 May 2020. (22pp)
  • Stanley Hauerwas, “In Defense of ‘Our Respectable Culture:’ Trying to Make Sense of John Howard Yoder.”, ABC Religion & Ethics, 18 October 2017. (11pp), available online:
  • William Joseph (B. J.) Hutto, “Neither Grand nor Noble: An Overview and Appraisal of John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Politics”, Theses presented at University of Aberdeen, 2018. Parts of Chapter 4, pp 153-179 (26pp)

Mar 22 -Vanier: History/Biography

  • Summary Report, L’Arche International  Feb 2020 (10 pages)
  • Paul J. Weindling, John W. Thompson: Psychiatrist in the Shadow of the Holocaust (University of Rochester Press, 2010) Ch. 14: The Eau Vive Affair. (38 pages)
  • Thomas Philippe, The Contemplative Life (New Jersey: The Dominican Nuns, 2009) 
    • Forward from Nouwen, pp vii-x.
    • Spiritual Direction, pp 83-85.
  • Conclusion: Life in Mary, pp 105-11. (total,13 pages)
  • Jean Vanier, Letters: May 2015 and Oct 2016 (3 pages)

Mar 29 – Vanier: Primary texts and responses

  • Vanier, Community and Growth (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2007). Ch. 7, pp  240-259. (19 pages)
  • Vanier, Man and Woman God Made Them (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2007) Ch. 6, pp 108-128. (20 pages)
  • Ronan Sharkey, “A Double Life: Jean Vanier,”  The Tablet: The International Catholic Weekly.  7 November 2020. pp 6-9. (4 pages)
  • Brenda Pauls, “A Theo-Politics of Coercion – The Heresies of Jean Vanier,” Rupert’slandnews: Connecting Church and Community, 4 May 2020.

April 5 - Concluding Discussion