The Integrative Project serves as a capstone for students in our theological programs as they look back on their training while discerning what it will look like for them to serve God and neighbor in their post-graduate contexts.
The Integrative Project is a capstone research project for students in our theology programs (Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology & Culture) and is completed in their final year of the program. Students work with a faculty advisor to form a project that integrates the student’s passions and calling with the student’s unique embodiment of text, soul, and culture. Students draw from the fullness of their experience at The Seattle School and a robust research methodology to create a major project or paper.
The presentations below synthesize the project thesis along with the student’s experience and research in creating their final project. Final drafts of each Integrative Project are available in The Seattle School’s library.
When you watch these presentations, said Dr. Dwight Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, you are “bearing witness to the student’s best work to date—to what God is doing in them and through them.”
Look for session three soon.
View session one »
View session three »
View session four »
View session five »
View session six »
Learn more about our unique theology programs »
“Escaping the Panoptic Church: An Alternative Away from Belief Towards a Freedom in Being Human,” Matt Allen, MDiv
The panopticon is an allegory for the Church. I use Michel Foucault’s understanding of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon because it is the most efficacious and creative way to relate the harm the Church has caused, is causing and will cause. Understanding the Church as a panoptic structure was a way to create background, aesthetic, and meaning for many who no longer desire to hold the structured belief system of the Church. The Church needs to labeled as a panoptic prison because the Church has not been a beacon of freedom. It has historically been a place of restriction and antipathy. It has not been a space where unconditional love is felt or made known. The Church has become a structure where human freedom has been rejected and love has been conditionalized. This is the realm of the panopticon.
It is not sufficient enough to end with the comparison itself. To end with this kind of deconstruction can be helpful but it leaves the heart wanting more. There needs to be a movement from insignificance toward significance, from self-denial to self-love, from numbness to feeling, and from despair to freedom and hope. I hope I have done this in this work. I hope I have created a space for many who have been harmed by the Church who can then feel angry, sad, and confused. I believe those feelings are of utmost vitality when looking at the pain that has been caused in one’s own life. I also hope that freedom can be found here as well. Freedom to be a self that is not regulated by a force that gives no meaning to the self but a freedom that hopes in a self that we have yet to fathom. It is in this space of unbridled freedom where I hope to leave you.
“Calling the Keeners: The Hidden Hope in Lament,” Karen Teasdale, MATC: Interdisciplinary Studies
Throughout my childhood and on into my adult years, I experienced a succession of significant losses. With enough trauma, the growth mentioned in Romans 5:3- 5, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” seemed empty, and was not enough to satisfy desire and restore justice.
Hope in the future held both deep yearning and quiet terror—what future was there to look forward to if it was to be continually stolen away? Yet my Christian upbringing invited me to ignore that terror and believe in a triumphant present and future, no matter what the past may have held.
Futility and despair were not emotions I had allowed myself to feel in the past, yet in embracing them and entering into the practice of lament, I have glimpsed an unusual experience I can only describe as a hope that does not feel hopeful in the traditional sense.
My research led me to a surprising number of theologians who have written about lament, as well as theologians and psychologists who are exploring the intersection of trauma theory and theology.
This integration process led me to wonder what biblical lament looks like in the 21st century, particularly in a Western world context. My research has concluded that while the Western church knows and expresses individual grief in various ways, biblical lament is an almost unknown concept, and rarely, if ever, is expressed communally as was the common practice in Israel. Given my own experience, I believe that if the Church acknowledged trauma and despair, and allowed biblical lament in their midst, we would know a type of hope, goodness, and covenantal relationship with God that the Western church has never seen.
“The Stories Our Bodies Tell: Trauma, Deliverance, and Integration,” Megan Peters: MATC: Interdisciplinary Studies
When trauma takes place, the shock and shattering of the experience leaves the person feeling fragmented, mind, body, and soul. The impact is vast, causing for wholeness to seem near impossible. When the traumatic experience[s] occur, the person reacts instinctually for survival, whether that is by numbing, emotionally shutting down, or even forgetting the experience.
When this instinctual response happens, the traumatized person represses the experience inside her body for survival. This repression becomes a safe house for the loss she is not capable of enduring. The body will tell its story though, announcing itself through psychosomatic symptoms that are encouraging the person towards reconnection and embodiment. This unintegrated, scattered state, if left repressed and neglected, will create dis-ease in the person unless liberated.
The work of integration is an incarnational process requiring both a witness to our suffering and a faith-filled embodiment, such as healing touch, that will affirm putting the pieces back together again. This journey towards wholeness is a spiritual one, with the focus on confession, blessing not cursing, community, and dynamic faith.