Christianity and Culture. Sociology of Religion

SR515. Methods of Social and Congregational Analysis. Fall or spring.

Credit, three hours. (Faculty) (Same as CC515.)

This course provides students an introduction to methods of contextual analysis and the opportunity to conduct an analysis of their context of ministry, be it a congregation, community, or community organization. Students will be encouraged to develop a multidimensional lens that provides a framework for critical reflection on the theological, sociological, and cultural dimensions of ministry in their setting. This course is required for all students enrolled in the MRL program, but is open to all Candler master’s degree candidates.

SR536. Religion and Health in Context: HIV

Credit, three hours. (Blevins)

This course will explore the ways in which religion has been utilized over the last 25 years to make sense of the HIV epidemic and to mobilize or hinder productive responses. These processes of making meaning and responding have occurred in a variety of contexts; the course will critically explore a broad spectrum of religious, political, and public health contexts to demonstrate the ways in which religion is invoked in response to questions and practices of health and wellness.

SR593. Religion and Health in Context: Sexual and Reproductive Health

Credit, three hours. (Blevins)

This course will offer a sustained critical analysis of the complicated relationship between religion and sexuality, particularly in relation to issues of central concern to sexual and reproductive health. Students will examine the teachings of major world religions (with a primary focus on Christianity and Islam) on sexuality from global perspectives, place those teachings in historical contexts, critically assess the impact of those teachings in the context of sexual and reproductive health initiatives in both national and international contexts, and work to align religion and sexual and reproductive health initiatives through group projects and case studies.

SR601. Sociology of Religion

Credit, three hours. (Faculty)

This course explores the meaning of religion as a dimension of all social life: ritual, myth, and symbolic reality; churches as organizations and institutions; different social identities and situations among the faithful; secularization and revival, conflict and change in globalization and liberation.

SR603. Religion in American Society

Credit, three hours. (Faculty)

This course looks at new religious movements and new denominational developments in the contexts of contemporary American culture and social life.

SR605. Contemporary American Religion and Politics

Credit, three hours. (Faculty)

This course maps the drama of religion in American public life from the perspectives of public theologies and civil religion in cultural conversation and politically enacted argument. It embraces social movements, electoral politics, and parachurch groups, including the religious right and mainline Protestant advocacy, denominational divisions, and congregations committed to prophetic witness and evangelical activism.

SR612. The Church and Disabilities

Credit, three hours. (Faculty) (Same as CC612.)

This course introduces students to disability studies and theologies emerging from the disabilities community. Students will have the opportunity to examine the architecture, as well as religious practices of inclusion/exclusion of a variety of congregations. Preaching, religious education, worship and sacramental life, congregational leadership and ordination, fellowship, mission and outreach ministries, and denominational statements/policies, will be observed and critiqued with the hope of full inclusion of those with intellectual and physical disabilities. (SR612CEE when offered as a Contextual Education elective)

SR613. Gender in US Religion

Credit, three hours. (N. Phillips)

This seminar examines how religion and gender intersect in American society. We will approach religion sociologically, interpreting its particular roles in the United States and understanding the causes and conditions of religious and social change. We will employ sociological perspectives on gender as well, exploring it as a socially constructed phenomenon (gender differences are not innate or “natural,” but are responses to cultural norms that are reinforces by society). (Race, Ethnicity, and Gender)

SR615. Immigration, Religion and the American Church

Credit, three hours. (Hanciles)

Massive post-1965 immigration is radically transforming American society and religious life, with profound implications for the ministry and witness of the church. This course introduces students to a biblical and historical understanding of human migration. It also examines the concepts, major trends, critical issues, and variety of challenges associated with contemporary realities from a Christian perspective. Among other things, particular attention will be given to the importance of South-North migration for understanding long-term developments within global Christianity; the formation and missionary significance of proliferating new immigrant congregations (African, Asian, and Hispanic); Christian ministry in a context of vibrant religious plurality; and the on-going de-Europeanization of American Christianity. Classroom lectures and interactions are combined with limited ethnographic research (principally among immigrant Christian communities).

SR617. Memory, Culture, and Redemption

Credit, three hours. (N. Phillips) (Same as CC617.)

In this course, students are introduced to the cross-disciplinary fields of memory and trauma studies. We will focus on the connection between collective group remembrances and religion to assess how constructions and reconstructions of past memories serve as resources of redemption for social groups who have faced persecution. Interdisciplinary readings will draw upon sociology, anthropology, history, and theology to inform students about select historical social atrocities and to encourage learners to witness to the traumatic experiences and legacies of these social groups. (Race, Ethnicity, and Gender)

SR619. Congregation and Community

Credit, three hours. (Faculty)

This course explores theoretical methodological perspective for understanding the changes in congregations and their contexts. It identifies a congregation’s context as an idiosyncratic blend of national and local social, cultural, and demographic trends, as well as the ethos, polity, and program of the tradition or denomination of which it is a part.

SR620. Nonviolent Strategies of Social Change

Credit, three hours. (Faculty) (Same as CC519.)

The course will examine historical, biblical, theological, and theoretical bases for nonviolent initiatives. The empowerment of the local church, organizations, and individuals will be a central concern in the analysis of strategies.

SR621. Howard Thurman: Spirituality and Community

Credit, three hours. (Faculty)

Howard Thurman’s writings and ministry focused upon the meaning of personal commitment and social transformation as they reflect religious experience. The course explores how spirituality influences concepts of community and assesses the practical implications of such concepts.

SR622. Ethnographic Research for Ministry in Congregations and Local Communities

Credit, three hours. (N. Phillips) (Same as CC622.)

Ethnography is a social scientific approach to studying human behavior and the cultural patterns of communities, congregations, and institutions. Pastoral practitioners have adopted ‘theological ethnography’ as a method for garnering more extensive knowledge about ministry in congregational settings and local communities. In this course, students will be introduced to ethnography as social research requiring participation in fieldwork. Learners will apply basic techniques of ethnography, form the development of a research question to analysis of collected data, to better understand the religious practices of Christian communities, the lived realities of social groups, and social change.

SR624. Preaching in a Secular Age

Credit, three hours. (Smith) (Same as P624.)

The course is designed to help students understand, evaluate, and use key concepts from theories of secularization; interpret concrete situations in ministry using these concepts—letting the concepts illumine particular situations, even as the situations rebuke, refine, and revise the concepts; gain a sense of the variety of ways that different preachers from different theological traditions and social locations relate to processes of secularization; preach with richer consciousness of the questions of secularization that might be at stake in a context the student cares about; and cultivate habits for this pattern of practical theological reflection (moving between theories, concrete situations, and the practical actions of everyday ministry).

SR628. Ritual Practice and the Nature of Ritual Performance

Credit, three hours. (N. Phillips) (Same as CC628.)

Ritual action can maintain social stability or provoke social change. Both will be the foci of this course. Through the social scientific study of ritual, we will capture how ritual affects social transformation while investigating ways in which ritual confirms status quo conditions. This course surveys the priestly and prophetic functions of ritual performance in congregational and communal life. (SR628CEE when offered as a Contextual Education elective)

SR633. African American Religion and Culture

Credit, three hours. (N. Phillips) (Same as HC633.)

This interdisciplinary course offers a panoramic view of cultural practices that have been the social glue for African Americans, historically and advancing into the present. We will move through the ways ecclesial and nonecclesial religious belief and practice have intersected with black folk tradition, ritual, music, art, literature and other material and nonmaterial cultural forms to give rise to a vibrant and enduring black social, political and economic life in America. In this culturally thematic course, we will also wrestle with ethical subjects and issues that despite the strength of black spirituality possess the potential to contribute to forms of black social death. (Race, Ethnicity, and Gender)

SR634. Globalization and the Church’s Mission

Credit, three hours. (Hanciles) (Same as M634.)

This course examines the globalization phenomenon and its wide-ranging implications for the contemporary church. It is divided into two parts. Part one provides a detailed assessment of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of globalization with a view to unravelling myth and reality and applying biblical lenses. Part two examines, among other things, the role of Christianity as a globalizing force, emerging initiatives, models, and strategies of Christian missionary engagement, and plausible responses of the church to the problems, perils, and opportunities of the processes of globalization. Issues to be spotlighted include global processes and local change, missions and money, religious movement and economic development, modernity and religious commitment, some implications of the recent demographic shift in world Christianity for missions. (SR634CEE when offered as a Contextual Education elective)

SR636. Faith and Philanthropy

Credit, three hours. (Franklin)

This course is critical for current and future leaders and managers of nonprofit organizations, faith-based ministries that rely on fundraising, and future employees and board members of grant making organizations. With the exponential growth of the organized philanthropy sector, it is important for leaders to understand the history, mission, culture, regulations, and impacts of foundations and other benevolent organizations. The goals of the course are to introduce students to the practice of philanthropy, to explore theological and ethical dimensions of altruism, giving, asking for, and stewarding financial assets; to understand “toxic charity” and the harm that philanthropy can do; and to provide skills that are important in fundraising, managing and evaluating grant supported ministries and projects. The instructor is an ordained clergyperson and has been a foundation executive seminary president, college president, and member of various boards including the Community Foundation of Atlanta, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, and the Salvation Army.

SR645. Race, Class, and the Making of American Religion

Credit, three hours. (Frederick)

Religion, regardless of attempts at transcendence, is inevitably raced, classed and gendered. In this course we explore the many variations of that embodiment and wrestle with its historical and contemporary consequences. This class asks how race has become so integral to religious identity, especially in the U.S. We will explore how religion has informed our racial narratives. Through historical, anthropological and sociological works we will examine their social import. (Race, Ethnicity, and Gender)

SR650. Faith and Health: Transforming Communities

Credit, three hours. (Kiser) (Same as CC650.)

The purpose of this course is to help students oriented toward pastoral, social service, and community health roles accomplish the following: better understand the theoretical relationship between religious practices at personal and social scale and the health of the community as a basis for developing and leading initiatives; become familiar with both religious and health science literature in this area in order to develop an expanded conceptual framework for leadership that contributes to community transformation; and to develop leadership awareness and practices that build the capacity for collaboration between religious organizations, including congregations and their partners in the public sector.

SR653. Religion and Public Health

Credit, three hours. (Idler) (Cross-listed course from Laney Graduate School)

This course will provide graduate students and advanced undergraduate students with a sociologically-oriented interdisciplinary survey of research on the intersection of public health and religious practices and beliefs, in individuals and populations. Religion is one factor among many others in the social environment that to some extent determines the health of populations. Religion also has a role in the organization and practice of medicine and public health, in the lives of individuals, their families and social networks, health professionals, and the institutions in which they interact. The course will emphasize evidence from quantitative social science and epidemiology, the role of religion in the historical development of public health institutions, and the theoretical social science origins of religion and health research. Under the large umbrella of religion and health research, the class will be attempting to map the part of the field that is distinctively oriented to public health, rather than to medicine.

SR658. Health and Healing: Understanding the Role of Religion

Credit, three hours. (Flueckiger)

This course introduces the academic study of religion in the context of health and healing, to develop a religious imagination that enables a “critical empathy” and understanding of the religious traditions of others; introduces a way of thinking rather than a specific body of knowledge or skill set; and provides students with the ability to recognize cues for where religion matters in health and healing contexts of the individual/family and community/society.

SR665. Catholicism in America: Migration, Transnationalism, and Devotion

Credit, three hours. (S. Reynolds) (Same as HC665)

This course explores the history and present of U.S. Catholicism by tracing the migrations that have shaped Catholic life in the Americas throughout the past five centuries, beginning with an examination of accounts of the Guadalupan apparition and of Catholic slaves and slaveholders. We attend in a particular way to the role of the parish and populare religious practices in immigrant communities throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as to dynamics of race, culture, and borders in shaping U.S. Catholic identities through the present day. (Race, Ethnicity, and Gender).

SR698. Special Topics in Sociology of Religion

Credit, variable. (Faculty)

Special topic or one-time offering courses led by Candler regular and visiting faculty. Prerequisites may be required and are noted on the course schedule when applicable.