At Virginia Seminary, theological education for both clergy and laity is considered a lifelong project. VTS was one of the first Episcopal seminaries to offer continuing education for clergy. The Lifelong Learning office hosts wide-ranging, innovative continuing education programs in service to the church and world.
In these three Costan Lectures Sarah Coakley explores afresh the nature of sin and the Fall, and probes the intrinsic relation to contemporary issues of racism and other systemic forms of prejudice. Starting from an analysis of some unexpected events in an American jail, she unfolds a theory of racism as sin (understood as the mis-aggregation of desire and the projective blame of the 'other'). She goes on to consider how sin/racism at its root distorts both sensual and moral perception, and asks under what (contemplative) conditions such a malaise could begin to be healed. Acknowledging the ways in which modern Euro-American racism is itself the product of a Christian culture, she turns back to early modern mystical theology to enquire whether it has any remaining lessons for today's agonies about racial division, and about the strange theological ambiguities of "blackness" and "darkness" that run through them. If writers as diverse as John of the Cross and Howard Thurman see the embracing of contemplative divine darkness as purgative of sin and blindness, what might this mean for the prospects of mutual spiritual redemption and social transformation?
September 25: In the Jail: Systemic Racism, Contemplation, and the Problem of "Seeing"
September 26: Reconsidering the Fall: Desire Gone Awry and Its Consequences
September 27: On the Way to Union? How "Divine Darkness" Convicts the Sin of Racism
Lettie Pate Evans Multipurpose Room, Addison Academic Center