Candler Faculty Workshops

Every year at YTI, professors from Candler School of Theology offer workshops in their area of interest and expertise.  These workshops give YTI scholars a taste seminary, and Candler faculty a chance to hear directly from youth about the perspectives they bring to their faith and its relation to the world around them. Here are the workshops for Summer 2014:

To Hell with the Heathen?  Christian Views of Salvation with theRev. Dr. Arun Jones

Christians have almost always lived with people from different religious traditions, but we have had different opinions as to how those outside the Church figure (or don’t figure) into God’s plan of salvation.  In this workshop participants will discover, discuss and debate some common Christian views of salvation and damnation that have been developed over twenty centuries of church history, so that students can appreciate and engage different theological perspectives on this issue that can deeply affect their relationship with their friends and neighbors.

How to Be a Kung Fu Knife Master — and other Spiritual Practices of Food and Cooking with Audrey Hindes


Cooking with grace and reverence can be an act of worship.  In this workshop we will explore questions of hospitality and food as a way to follow Jesus’ commandments to love God and love others.  We will engage all of our senses as we experience the spirituality – and zen – of cooking.

“Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here” : The Prophetic Lyricism of a Thug Nation, its Thug Theology and Thug Theodicywith the Rev. Dr. Nichole Phillips

 Hip hop culture is a global phenomenon transcending race, ethnicity, class, national origins, politics, religion, gender and sexuality. It is also the site of controversy and creativity. Interestingly, “churched” and religious youth are both the producers and consumers of popular hip hop culture and music. Where is God in the midst of song lyrics? What is the role of theology, spirituality, and religion in hip hop artistry?

Hip hop culture grew out of the plaintive cries of urban and inner city, disenfranchised youth. In light of the debates about hip hop music and its commodification, does the music remain a form of social protest? What stories are being told? Is the hip hop lyricism—“the music”—and artistry of Generations X, Y, and Millennials, prophetic?  Does the music critique unfair social practices and offer an alternative vision for just societies and global communities? We will begin a study of the lyrics of selected hip hop artists to decode the meaning of “thug nation” and to determine: 1. if the music has theological import; 2. where the lyrics might defend God in spite of a “broken” world (i.e, theodicy); 3. how hip hop lyricism affirms group culture while being prophetic utterance about contestable socio-political conditions; 4. what the young emcee is communicating about her or his life: what is the story?

 Mummies, Myths, and the Museum: The Bible and Other Ancient Artifacts with the Rev. Dr. Joel LeMon


How would you like to see weapons, toys, jewels, monsters, and even some dead bodies that are over three thousand years old? Old stuff can be really cool if you know what you are looking at.  In this session, students will visit the galleries of Emory’s Carlos museum. There we will explore the connections between a really old book (the Bible) and a bunch of old stuff archaeologists have uncovered from ancient empires.  How does this material change, confirm, or challenge our understandings of the Bible?

 Imagining Jesus with Dr. Anthony Briggman

 Christianity is built on memory. A long time ago in a land far, far away – from us in the United States anyway – something happened that changed the lives of several hundred people, and through those changed lives, the world. Yet, who Jesus was, what he did, and what he promised has never been as clear as we would like it to be.  Indeed, Christians have spent the succeeding two millennia since Jesus died on a cross trying to arrive at answers to these questions.

We will spend the first portion of this workshop getting inside the early Christian imagination about the person of Jesus. Once we have gained a certain amount of insight from these ancient Christian attempts to explain Jesus, we will turn to more recent artistic renderings of Jesus. In this portion of our time together we will discuss how the imaginations of artists reveal the diverse yearnings people have for a savior.

 What’s God’s Will for My Life? and Other Imponderables with the Rev. Ellen Purdum

 Possibly one of the stupidest things well-meaning adults ask teenagers is “What are you going to do after you graduate?”  Even if you have an answer, the question can stir up all sorts of unwelcome thoughts and feelings—fear, anxiety, longing, ambivalence, confusion, uncertainty.  Taking in messages from the culture—or simply breathing the air of the culture—often makes it even harder to pay attention to what your own heart, soul, body and mind are telling you.  This workshop offers you the opportunity to step back from that unwelcome question and barrage of cultural messages and begin to know what you already know that you know about your own life, which is one way of describing the spiritual practice of vocational discernment.  You’ll learn that discerning is not the same thing as making decisions, but rather a way of living differently and more attentively in the world, and you’ll have the chance to practice doing it using your own bodies, imaginations, memories and experiences in the world.  You may not leave the workshop with a definite answer to the question, but you’ll have some things you can do to engage it authentically and faithfully.

“God Damn It” and Other Things Christians Say: Praying the Psalms of Divine Wrath with the Rev. Dr. Brent Strawn

The imprecatory (cursing) psalms are among the most difficult texts in the Bible. “Surely,” many say, “they are not to be prayed by Christians anymore – not in our world and our times!” This workshop will revisit these psalms (and more recent “psalms” like them) to see how praying them is not only a normal occurrence, it is actually indispensable for our souls.

Sex, Politics, and Theology in Tyler Perry’s Films with the Rev. Dr. Andrea White

Is there any theology in a Tyler Perry film?  Are Perry’s black female protagonists disruptive of stereotypes or do his representations of black women unwittingly perpetuate racist and sexist ideology?  Why are race and gender theological problems?  Through discussion and critical reviews of films shown in class, this workshop will explore questions about sex, politics and theology in Tyler Perry’s films.

Secret Knowledge of Jesus (What They Don’t Teach You in Sunday School) with Dr. Susan E. Hylen

Just as there are many different Christian beliefs today, Christians in the 1st and 2nd centuries had diverse views. Some of them wrote about their ideas in texts that survive today. In this workshop we will explore two 2nd century works, the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary. Each story presents its own “Gospel” from the perspective of one of Jesus’ disciples—and the secret knowledge Jesus gave only to them. Come and find out more about what some early Christians thought the Gospels left out of the story of Jesus. You will have an opportunity to think like a 2nd century Christian and create your own “Gospel.”