Theology & Peace Conference Will Go Online!

A message from Preston Shipp, President of Theology & Peace:

Greetings, Theology & Peace friends! I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and sane in this anxious, troubled time, and are experiencing moments of peace and joy and wonder and wisdom. The Board wanted to offer an update regarding the 2020 Conference in light of the Covid pandemic.

The Theology & Peace Board has forged an exciting partnership with the Raven Foundation, from which we have received so much love and support over the years, and it felt like the right time to bring Theology & Peace more formally in line with the work of Raven. As excited as we were for the first conference to spring forth from this partnership, we have determined that we cannot have an in-person conference this year. As events unfolded, we considered moving the Nashville Conference to August, but so much is still uncertain that we think it best to not consider an in-person conference until 2021.

The current goal of the Raven Foundation and Theology & Peace is to offer an online conference in August of 2020. Our speakers, including Kevin Miller, David Dark, Audrey Assad, and Julia Robinson Moore are committed to being involved. We hope to have an official announcement by June 1.

While we are all disappointed that we will not be gathering in person, as our conversations have evolved, this seems more and more like an unanticipated opportunity to bring the conference to many people who would otherwise not be able to join us. Stay tuned for more information soon about dates and registration. And may we all be instruments of God’s peace in these tumultuous days.

The Collaborators Conference
for the Flourishing of Nonviolent Christianity
is an annual event fostering learning, empowerment, and community.
This conference is presented by The Raven Foundation and Theology & Peace.


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The Collaborators Conference
for the Flourishing of Nonviolent Christianity
is an annual event fostering learning, empowerment, and community.
This conference is presented by The Raven Foundation and Theology & Peace.
AUGUST 10-14, 2020


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In addition, the board is exploring the possibility of offering “parallel workshop sessions” similar to the COV&R  conference.

Like Martin Luther King, Jr., over fifty years ago, we go “to Nashville not to bring inspiration, but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”


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Following years of teaching high school English, David Dark received his doctorate in 2011 and now teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women and Belmont
University where he is Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology. His work has appeared in MTV News, Books & Culture, Pitchfork, and the Oxford American. He is the author of:

Visit his website at

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Interview with Michael Battle

Michael Battle, is one of the plenary presenters for our upcoming Theology & Peace Conference, June 17-20, at American Baptist College in Nashville. In this video he gives a preview of the intersection of “Ubuntu” and the work of René Girard concerning both our inescapable interdependence and the scapegoat mechanism. REGISTER NOW!

Currently appointed as Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary in New York, the Very Rev. Michael Battle, Ph.D. has an undergraduate degree from Duke University, received his master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, a master’s of Sacred Theology from Yale University and a PhD in theology and ethics, also from Duke University. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1993. Battle’s clergy experience, in addition to his current church work, includes serving as vicar at St. Titus Episcopal Church in Durham, NC, rector at Church of Our Saviour, in San Gabriel, California; rector at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, N.C.; and interim rector or associate priest with other churches in North Carolina and in Cape Town, South Africa.

On two occasions he moved into churches located in ethnically changing neighborhoods (to Asian in one and to Hispanic in the other) and helped both to adapt and grow. He also served as provost and canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2010, Battle was given one of the highest Anglican Church distinctions as “Six Preacher,” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. A distinction given to only a few who demonstrate great dedication to the church that goes back to 16th century England and Thomas Cranmer. Battle’s academic experience includes service as interim dean of Students and Community Life at Episcopal Divinity School, dean for academic affairs, vice president and associate professor of theology at Virginia Theology Seminary; as associate professor of spirituality51Uj7gwIcPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_and black church studies, at Duke University’s Divinity School; and as assistant professor of spiritual and moral theology in the School of Theology at the University of the South. Battle has published nine books, including Heaven on Earth: God’s Call to Community in the Book of Revelation,  Reconciliation: the Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu and the book for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me. 

“French Anthropologist René Girard provides renewed self-esteem to Christians by showing how Jesus explodes the sacrificial, violent nature of human community. Jesus explodes the mechanism in human beings that requires another victim. Girard brilliantly articulates how human beings are entirely dependent on the re-establishment of order after cycles of victimary bloodletting.” (Heaven on Earth, 43)

In his PeaceBattle Institute he works on subjects of diversity, spirituality, prayer, race and reconciliation. Almost since its inception, he has served as pastor and spiritual director to hundreds of clergy and laity for CREDO for the Episcopal Church. He has also served as chaplain to Archbishop Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the House of Bishops and, in 2008, was chaplain to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He is a featured keynote speaker and has led numerous clergy and lay retreats, including the bishops’ retreat of the Province of the West Indies. In addition, Battle has served as vice president to the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi’s Institute for Nonviolence. Battle and his wife, Raquel, were married by Archbishop Tutu and are parents to two daughters, Sage and Bliss, and a son, Zion. All of whom were baptized by Archbishop Tutu as well.

Visit his website:

Faculty page:

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Preston Shipp speaks with Naomi Tutu about Ubuntu

REV. NONTOMBI NAOMI TUTU will give a keynote presentation at our upcoming Theology & Peace Conference. Here’s a preview of what we can expect June 17-20 at American Baptist College in Nashville!


Like Martin Luther King, Jr. forty years ago, we go ”to Nashville not to bring inspiration, but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”

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The 2019 Theology & Peace Conference:…/2019-conference-registration/
#EngagedMimeticTheory #IAmOnlyBecauseWeAre

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“Green” Ash Wednesday

(The following are my opening reflections for my webpage on Ash Wednesday.)

In 2019 there is finally serious conversation about addressing the foreboding challenges of Climate Change. The debate has begun over the “Green New Deal.”

A dozen years ago I had an idea for a “Green” Ash Wednesday that was partly an effort to make a faith response to the issues of eco-justice, but also as a shift in piety for the practice of ashes on the forehead for Ash Wednesday: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Traditionally, we hear this somber reminder of our mortality in the frame of an often shaming focus on sin. In light of Mimetic Theory, we know that our traditional focuses on sin are usually sinful. The Sin of our origins is an Us-vs-Them structuring around what we deem sinful, which then becomes the justification for sacred violence against Them.

Alison - The Joy of Being WrongThe crucial Girardian text on this insight is James Alison‘s The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin through Easter Eyes. And the heart of that book is Alison’s masterful reading of John 9 — one of the best theological essays on any single scripture passage, in my opinion. (Note: his reading of John 9 is also expanded upon and stands alone as Chapter 1 in Faith Beyond Resentment.) Here’s a glimpse in this summary paragraph:

In this story then we watch a revolution in the understanding of sin, and a revolution that takes place around the person of Jesus, but is actually worked out in the life of someone else. The structure of the story is the same as is to be found time and time again in John: that of an expulsion, or proto-lynching, one of the many that lead up to the definitive expulsion of the crucifixion, which is also the definitive remedy for all human order based on expulsion. The revolution in the concept of sin consists in the following: at the beginning of the tale, sin was considered in terms of some sort of defect that excludes the one bearing the defect. At the end of the tale sin is considered as the act of exclusion: the real blindness is the blindness which is not only present in those who exclude, but actually grows and intensifies during the act of exclusion. (p. 121)

My “Green” Ash Wednesday seeks to hear — “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” — through Easter ears. Yes, our earthly bodies are mortal. But in the frame of the Easter promise we know that someday we will put on immortality with a resurrection body (1 Cor 15:35ff.). God is saving the whole creation from its subjectivity to decay (Rom. 8:18-25), when God’s power of life will become all-in-all (1 Cor 15:28). In this frame, remembering that we are dust can be more about our solidarity with the rest of creation. We are star dust. God’s redeeming of creation embraces our bodies and all of creation.

And as children of God, we shoulder a special responsibility — a persisting divine invitation — to participate in God’s ongoing work to bring creation to fulfillment. The New Reformation is clear about the down-side of focusing on salvation as ‘going to heaven when you die,’ which so often leads to thinking that the earth is disposable because we leave it behind at death. No! Followers of Jesus do not stand in the inheritance of Plato’s dualism of heavenly ideas over earthly substance. We stand in the inheritance of the robust creational monotheism of Jesus’ Judaism. We are dust and return to dust. But that dust was created good and will someday come to fulfilment. “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:3b-4). Life is the beginning and the ending, and we are called to live in the light.

So the texts I chose for “Green” Ash Wednesday are:

  • Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17 — The creation of the earth creature (adama) out of the earth, placing s/he in the garden to care for it (including the infamous Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the symbol of our sinful focus on sin).
  • Romans 8:18-25 — Subjected to the futility of decay, the whole creation eagerly longs for the revealing of the children of God, groaning for the redemption of our bodies. We hope.
  • John 9:1-7 — Jesus heals a man born blind with dirt (reminiscent of Genesis 2), working God’s continuing work of creation and teaching the disciples about sin.

Here’s a narrative account of developing the idea of “Green” Ash Wednesday; and Sermon Notes for the 2019 sermon.

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Let’s move beyond the rivalries which dehumanize people on all sides of the equation

Register for the 2019 Theology & Peace Conference:…/2019-conference-registration/
#EngagedMimeticTheory #IAmOnlyBecauseWeAre

Read more about our Plenary Speakers: Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu, Very Rev. Michael Battle Ph.D.,

Midrash on Bible & Beloved Community: Sandor Goodhart Ph.D.

Panelists and Facilitators Include: Rev. Janet WolfRev. Thee Smith Ph.D.Rahim BufordJulia Robinson Moore, Ph.D.,  Micky ScottBey Jones, & James Alison!

Mimetic Theory 101: James Warren

Register at:

Hosted by: American Baptist College Nashville, Tennessee

A historically black college, American Baptist College (ABC) has, since 1924, prepared graduates for leadership, ministry and social justice. ABC has a rich history of involvement in the civil rights movement.

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