TIR Kathryn Reklis Returning in July 2020! Apocalypse, Utopia and Fairytales: Imagining the End of the World and What Comes Next

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Dr. Kathryn Reklis
Dr. Kathryn Reklis is returning to FUMC Boulder as a TIR (Theologian-in-Residence) this summer! Drawing on her Forum series over the past two summers, Professor Reklis will revisit the themes of art, spirituality and social justice with an exploration of new artists, art movements, and popular culture. In response to the global pandemic and the growing revolution for racial justice, this series will explore art and popular culture that explores why the world as we know it must end, imagines the end of that world, and/or offers a vision of the human creativity that will remake the new world to come. We will explore how artists call for radical revisioning of our lives together and seed our imaginations with ways to think about ways of being and living that are “otherwise” to unjust realities.

Each week we will consider a different artist, artistic style, or genre as a way to think about how art names injustice and then also imagines the end of unjust worlds and the birth of just ones. We will meet on Wednesday evenings (July 8, 15, 22, and 29) at 7:00 pm via Zoom, an online meeting platform. Celene Lillie will be offering a preparatory session on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:00 on Zoom: Apocalypse and [the book of] Revelation. Check future editions of the Pastoral Ponderings, our Friday email newsletter, for more details and Zoom meeting information.

If you’d like to join our email list, please email the Church Office.

Wednesday, JULY 1: Apocalypse and [the book of] Revelation
How often have you heard that we are currently living in apocalyptic times? What is meant by this? What does “apocalyptic” even mean? And what does it have to do with the book of Revelation? Dr. Celene Lillie will explore these and other questions in preparation for Dr. Kathryn Reklis’s Theologian-in-Residence Series beginning on Wednesday, July 8.

Wednesday, JULY 8: Station 11 or What good is art in the apocalypse?
We will discuss Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station 11, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic universe, after a deadly flu virus has decimated the human population. The novel follows a group of traveling Shakespearean actors and explores what role art plays in rebuilding a new world.

Wednesday, JULY 15: We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85
This week we will explore several of the artists that formed the core of an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in 2017. What do radical Black women artists contribute to a critique of the unjust world we inhabit? What does their art practice offer us as we think about different ways of imagining that world?

Wednesday, JULY 22: Parasite and Fairy Tales, or what contemporary myths, fables, and scary stories teach us about the world that has to end
This week we will discuss the movie Parasite (which won nearly every award in 2019). We will explore the movie as modern fairy-tale or fable about life in late capitalism, with boogeymen and less-than-happy endings – plus great humor and suspense. We will discuss how it adopts the form of a fairy tale to shine light on the values a society holds dear and the price we pay for violating them.

Wednesday, JULY 29: Octavia Butler Predicted the Future
In 1993 MacArthur award winner Octavia Butler wrote a science fiction novel, The Parable of the Sower, that imagined a demagogue elected to “make America great again” in the year 2025. America has fallen into an apocalyptic hellscape, where racism, greed, and ecological destruction have destroyed already fragile civil bonds. Her heroine, a young Black woman with the gift of “hyperempathy” and a prophetic vision of the future, sets out to chart a new course for humanity among the stars. We will discuss Butler’s book, the role of science fiction in helping us think about life “otherwise” than it is now, and many real world experiments that seek to embody some of Butler’s utopian ideas.

Dr. Kathryn Reklis is a professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University in New York City, where she teaches classes on the history and practice of Christianity in the modern age, Christianity and colonialism, theology and aesthetics, theology and popular culture, and digital religion. She is an affiliate faculty in the American Studies program and the Comparative Literature program at Fordham, where she works with students on projects that explore the intersection of religion, secularity, popular culture, and social justice. She is also the author of the On Media column for The Christian Century, writing monthly columns on popular culture and art. She lives with her husband, an English professor, their two kids, and a lot of books in Astoria, Queens.