Theology in the age of Trump

Theology in the age of Trump

In late July, Pitt Street Uniting Church will host Common Dreams on the Road 2018, a weekend of theological inspiration and challenge, connecting the insights of scholars with the lives of contemporary people of faith.

The Common Dreams guest speaker for 2018 is Joe Bessler, Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is the author of several books including The Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better.

The festival opens on Friday evening 27th July, with Joe presenting a discussion on “Theology in the Age of Trump.” Singer/songwriter Rachel Collis will also perform at the opening event.

Many people have asked how Christians could align themselves with a President who has courted and unleashed social forces that are totally at odds with the life and teaching of Jesus.

Pitt Street minister, Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman argues that this ‘unholy’ pact demands our attention in Australia.

“We are not untouched by the alliance of right-wing religion and creeping fascism” said Rev. Dr Mayman.

“[This is] evident most recently in political proposals to justify the undermining of human rights protections by the demonising of religious and racial minorities, by politicians who proudly wave their Christian credentials.”

Joe Bessler exhorts people of faith to risk speech in the public realm; to wake up, to speak up, to move beyond the detachment (or self-satisfied criticism) to express the passion of what is at stake.

“For theologians, exploring the event of Donald Trump’s candidacy and election will involve publicly and fearlessly exposing the ways that variations of Christian God language, which were operative in that event, have encouraged gross ignorance of science; dismissal of evidence-based news reporting; and disrespect for women, LGBTIQ people, and for people of colour. This work is necessarily public,” said Mr Bessler.

The Common Dreams event continues on Saturday with talks and participatory workshops. Among the options, Joe will explore “the rise and fall of the Christian myth” examining modern questions of faith in light of the history of Christian collusion with ancient Greek philosophy and the ideology of Empire.  He will speak about the topic of his forthcoming book Moving Words about how theologies creatively propose to question our understanding of God.

With a focus on the implications of progressive theology for spiritual life, he will offer a workshop “Prayer and Practice in the wake of the Jesus Seminar.” This workshop asks if the study of the historical Jesus helps us re-imagine lives of faith, lives of prayer and practice. On Sunday morning, Joe will preach at the Pitt Street Sunday service.

“Progressive theology has moved beyond sometimes sterile deconstruction of previous decades,” said Rev. Dr Mayman.

“It is rich with passion and insight, resourcing us to live well as followers of the Way of Jesus.”

Common Dreams on the Road promises a nourishing feast of theological nourishment for mind and spirit.

Programme Information is available here.


The Common Dreams on the Road 2018 festival will be held from 27th July to 29th July.

Joe will also present “Theology in the Age of Trump” at Adamstown Uniting Church, Newcastle at 7pm on Wednesday 25 July.

The Common Dreams Network is planning an international conference to be held in Sydney from 11-14 July 2019. The conference theme is “Sacred Earth, Original Blessing, Common Home” with keynote speaker eco-spirituality theologian and practitioner, Matthew Fox.


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