Faculty Profile

Dr. James Perkinson

Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology

Dr. Jim Perkinson is a long-time activist and educator from inner city Detroit, where he has a history of involvement in various community development initiatives and low-income housing projects. He holds a PhD in theology from the University of Chicago, with a secondary focus on history of religions, is the author of White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity and Shamanism, Racism, and Hip-Hop Culture: Essays on White Supremacy and Black Subversion, and has written extensively in both academic and popular journals on questions of race, class and colonialism in connection with religion and urban culture. He is in demand as a speaker on a wide variety of topics related to his interests and a recognized artist on the spoken-word poetry scene in the inner city.

Jim is interested in using a broad array of interdisciplinary tools to investigate the way socio-economic position, racial presupposition, and gender perspective already inform our values and orientation to life long before we begin to grapple with questions of identity, ministry or spirituality. He is particularly concerned to understand the way white supremacy, as an effect of colonial Christian practices, continues to be reproduced in mainstream Western cultures. In addition, he explores how the creative forms of cultural resistance developed by marginalized groups and indigenous peoples can critically challenge Christianity today. These concerns figure in both his academic writing and the performance poetry that he produces as a necessary adjunct to teaching. Becoming at least bi-cultural in communication skills and poly-rhythmic in spiritual practice is fast emerging as a requisite capacity for Christian leadership in a transnational world. And the need for a pedagogy adequate to such a demand is his consuming passion.

Jim’s current curriculum vitae may be viewed here.

Publications

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS (Books)

Perkinson, J. W. (2015).  Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse: Essays in Communication and Struggle Across Species, Cultures, and Religions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press;

Perkinson, J. W. (2013). Messianism Against Christology: Resistance Movements, Folk Arts, and Empire. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press;

PEER-REVIEWED ESSAYS

Perkinson, J. W. 2017. “ Jesters, Tricksters, Taggers and Haints: Hipping the Church to the Afro-Hop, Pop-‘n-Lock Mock-up Currently Rocking Apocalyptic Detroit,”  HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 73(3), a659. https://doi. org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4659, 1-13;

Perkinson, J. W. 2017. “Protecting Water in the Anthropocene: River Spirits and Political Struggle in Detroit, Standing Rock, and the Bible,” CrossCurrents 66:4, 460-484;

Perkinson, J. W. (2015). “A Theological Aesthetic of the Ugly: Hip-Hop, Race and the City.” CrossCurrents  (Mar, 2015), 100-115;

Perkinson, J. W. (2014). “The Ghost in the Global Machine: Categorical Whiteness as ‘Religious’ Violence,” CrossCurrents 64:1 (2014), 59-72;

Perkinson, J. W. (2009). “Tupac Shakur as Ogou Achade: Hip-Hop Anger and Postcolonial Rancor Read From the Other Side,” Culture & Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10 (1) (special Issue on Hip-Hop and

BOOK CHAPTERS, ARTICLES, REVIEWS

 

Perkinson, J. W. 2016. “Preaching Jubilee in the Post-Industrial City,” in V. Vellem, P. Sheerattan-Bisnauth, and P. V. Peacock ed. Bible and Theology from the Underside of Empire. Matieland, SA: SunMedia Metro, 137-151;

Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Spoken Word Art as Prophetic Witness” and “Genesis Ex Annihilo,” contribution to the “Ways of World Making: Practices of Prophecy and Lament,” chapter in L. C. Schneider and S. G. Ray, Jr., ed., Awake to the Moment: An Introduction to Theology (Workgroup on Constructive Theology), Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 119-127;

Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Post-Bankruptcy Detroit as Apocalyptic Sign of the Times,” In K. Murphy and J. J. Schedtler (Eds.), Apocalypses in Context: Apocalyptic Currents Throughout History. Minneapolis: Fortress Press;

Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Unsettling Whiteness: Refocusing Christian Theology on Its Own Indigenous Roots,” in S. Heinrichs ed, Wrongs to Rights: How Churches Can Engage The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (special issue of Intotemak), Winnipeg MB: Mennonite Church Canada, 96-99;

Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Religion and the Class Status Quo,” In J. Vereecke (Ed.), Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Religion: Religion-Just Religion, Greenhaven Press, Macmillan Reference, USA, Farmington, MI: Gale/Cenage Learning, 199-217;

Classes

ETH6000 Church and Society


2020 Winter / Ethics Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology The foundational ethics course in the ETS curriculum. It will provide you with an analysis of the church in relationship to the world, including the following: Biblical - theological perspectives on community and mission Critical historical topologies of the relationship between Christ and culture and models of the church An in-depth focus on the issues of the church in contemporary North America in relationship to issue of economic justice, racism, patriarchy and environment. Throughout the course of the problem and possibility of ecclesial "integrity" will be continuously questioned: how to "become the church on a journey of transformation that is simultaneouly contemplative, communal and accountable to broader social struggles. Each of these levels of concern serves as tests for the other. You will also examine the local church as a community of faithful witness and merciful work as it strives to nurture worship and wisdom and sagacity in dealing with personal weaknesses and interpersonal conflict. Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER




ETH6100 Theoretical Foundations of Christian Ethics


2019 Fall / Ethics Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology You will explore the meaning of ethics, the principle sources of ethical wisdom and various systematic approaches dealing with ethical dilemmas. The role of the Bible, tradition, reason and experience will be reflected on as sources of ethical truth. The strengths and limitations of natural law, situation ethics, proportionalist/personalist, as well as virtue, narrative and communitarian approaches to ethical reasoning are discussed. The impact of the liberation movements (Hispanic, Afro-American, Feminist/Womanist) upon ethics will be considered, as well as the proposals regarding the formulation of a Global Ethic. Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER




SYS7001 Christology & Culture


2018 Winter, 2019 Spring / Theology Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology This course looks at the way culture was adapted by Jesus to galvanize a peasant resistance movement in Palestine, how the creativity went urban and outlaw under Paul, became bardic and monastic with the Iris, adopted griot features in slavery, shamanic savvy in Brazil, guru-wiles in India, and continues to twist domination into vitality and defiance under the beats and braggadocio of hip-hop today. We will plunge deeply into gospel culture to catch sight of Christology's powers of folk liberation and probe the possibilities of re-reading the Jesus tradition prophetically today to address white-on-black violence, ruthless gentrification, and apocalyptic climate change. Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER




SYS7003 Theology, Ecology, and Spirituality


2020 Spring / Theology Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology This course will explore issues in life and ministry through the integrated lenses of theology, ecology and spirituality. Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER




TPM7004 Interreligious Dialogue


2020 Summer / Theory & Practice of Ministry (TPM) Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology The emphasis of this course is on conversation with the authoritative voices that represent diverse religious communities and living religions in America today, including imams, rabbis and priests. You will also learn the basic principals of the world's religions as you visit mosques, temples, and gardens. This course is especially useful for those in chaplaincy or CPE, pastors in places of encounter and public ministry or educators who teach global awareness. You will read introductory texts in comparative religion, and view selected videos. Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts (Academic), Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER




TPMT7004 Art & Spirituality


2017 December Intensive / Theory & Practice of Ministry (TPM) Professor James Perkinson Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology Certificate in Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Master of Divinity REGISTER





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ecumenical Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools​ in the United States and Canada, and the following degree programs are approved: MDiv, MA, MA in Pastoral Ministry, DMin.

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