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 the final session soon.
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“Canonizing Augustine’s Concubine: An Exploration of St. Augustine’s Theology of Desire through John Updike’s Fiction, “Lauren Sawyer, MATC: Theology, Imagination, & The Arts
For centuries, St. Augustine’s perspective on desire and sexuality were taken for granted: that lust was a cardinal sin, that babies born of any sexual act (marital or otherwise) were damned, carrying within them the sin of Adam until baptized. Beginning in the mid-20th century, however, theologians in and outside the Church began wondering if Augustine had been wrong on one or two of these accounts.
Joining this conversation in the late 1970s, Pulitzer Prize winning author John Updike critiques and re-imagines Augustine’s theology of desire in his short story “Augustine’s Concubine,” a retelling of Confessions. Updike offers a way into understanding Augustine’s theology of desire that avoids oversimplifying, as others have done.
This paper analyzes Updike’s criti- cism of both the Augustinian tradition and its modern opposite, the Freudian tradition, and considers “Augustine’s Concubine” as an embodied critique of these traditions. It then looks at St. Augustine’s theology of desire, as explicated in his Confessions, to show how it deepens the meaning of Updike’s story. Finally, this paper explores the recent work of theologian Sarah Coakley in forming a theology of desire for the contemporary Church.
“Spectacular Separation: A Marxist Notion of Sin,” Ryyan Daniel Mandrell, MATC: Global & Social Partnership
The logic of capitalism is a particular worldview that has become materialized via its mediation of human relationships. Capitalism’s mediation is one that erodes the sacredness of interpersonal relationships by hollowing our hallowed human essence. This materialized worldview—or spectacle—of capitalism is a manifestation of sin. Its logic leads to a pervasive alienation of all peoples by separating us from ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
This separation caused by the logic of capitalism is the very antithesis of the kingdom of God—a kingdom that calls us to give and receive rather than store up treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy. This material separation is what I am calling a Marxist notion of sin, but not in the sense that it proposes Karl Marx believed in an orthodox notion of sin. Marx is as well known for his atheistic and materialist critique of religion as he is for his critique of capitalism.
Rather, in the same way Marx stood Hegel on his head, I am re-deploying Marx as an apocryphal prophet in order to critique the common moralistic notion of sin: a separation from an omniscient and omnipotent divine God due to a missing of the mark of his divine will. Replacing this moralistic notion with a material understanding redefines sin: separation here on earth from ourselves, from each other, and from the world around us caused via spectacular capitalism.
“Tracking the Beast: A Glimpse at Masculinity in America,” Jeff Rogness, MATC: Interdisciplinary Studies
Using two albums, written nearly forty years apart, as a lens to view masculinity, this paper seeks to detail the progression of masculinity in America. Incorporating voices from theology and psychology, the paper recounts reactions to and solutions for what has been termed the “masculinity crisis.” In America there has been a slow shift away from “traditional masculinity,” a rigid view of gender norms and expectations of what it means to be a man. Studies and other essays in psychology are exploring “positive masculinity,” highlighting the flexibility and positive elements of manhood.
The reaction from Christianity to the masculinity crisis is varied, but generally it leans toward rescuing traditional norms and models of masculinity from its detractors. A thorough discussion of two albums, Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Josh Ritter’s The Beast in its Tracks display how masculinity in America is beginning to embody psychology’s new vision. The new masculinity is one that makes room for a man’s acknowledgement of his feelings and emotions. The Tracks albums display the transition from hesitation to embrace of positive masculinity.