Friday, June 7, 2013

Soelle in Summer: Challenge and Wonder -- an online course-retreat, June 17-July 31

Yes, a course-retreat. Less reading and more spiritual practice than a course, more reading and exercising the mind than a retreat -- the perfect combination for reflecting on Soelle, for whom acting, praying, and thinking were always consciously intertwined.

Soelle in Summer: Challenge and Wonder
 June 17-July 31, 2013

Read and reflect in community on the work, thought, and spirituality of Dorothee Soelle (also spelled Sölle). 

Dorothee Soelle (1928-2003) was a German theologian, poet, peace activist, and Protestant Christian with Catholic, secular, humanist, and Jewish companions and allies; she was also a friend, teacher, spouse, mother, socialist, and from mid-life on, feminist. 

Course-retreat designed, led, and facilitated by Jane Redmont, theologian, author, and spiritual director. 

Seven weeks, $245. 

To register, write  

More details...

What, when, where

* A seven-week  online course-retreat from June 17 to July 31, 2013
* Reading, personal reflection, group conversation.  

* Prayer and study intertwined. 

* At home, in your daily life: read and reflect in a way that suits your schedule.

* Two brief online check-ins (in writing) per week.

* Not for academic credit -- but a solid contribution to your spiritual, intellectual, and community life and civic engagement, and to your work in the arts, community organizations, religion, activism, and/or academia.

* Readings are not lengthy (one and a half paperback books over seven weeks, plus short excerpts from Soelle's work on the course blog) but topics in Soelle's work are of the "oh, that's deep" sort. Expect gentle and friendly guidance and space for questioning and wonder, but also challenge and seriousness.

More on Dorothee Soelle

* Soelle is the author of Political Theology; Revolutionary Patience; SufferingTheology for Skeptics; Creative Disobedience; The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance; Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian; and many other works including books, essays, and poems. She also co-authored several books with friends such as her husband Fulbert Steffensky, biblical scholar Luise Schottroff, and others.

* I have shared insights from Soelle in the past on my personal blog, Acts of Hope. See, for instance, here, here, and here.

* Soelle wrote in an accessible manner --mostly in prose, sometimes in poems-- and not in the form of long academic treatises. 

* Her chosen topics, though, were challenging. We will visit a number of them on our retreat:

- history, evil, and Christian political engagement
- silence, language, and poetry in the struggle to name God
- suffering and the vulnerability of God
- Jesus the risk-taker and the community of the friends of Jesus
- church as community of memory, resistance, and hope
- feminism, disobedience, and human wholeness
* I often refer to Soelle as "an un-anesthetized Christian."  

How the course-retreat will work

* Soelle in Summer is part course, part retreat
* As such it will examine some of Soelle's writings with the intention of understanding them and her and the historical, social, political, and economic context in which Soelle  lived and wrote. 

* It will also invite us to reflect on some of the themes Soelle raises in our own contexts and lives, to ponder some of the questions she raises, slowly and prayerfully, and to share some of the fruit of our reflection and prayer with other participants. 
* There will be required readings every week, not too long, some from the two small required books** and some shorter ones posted on the course blog.
** Required books:
- Dorothee Soelle, Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian (Fortress Press, 1999)
-Dorothee Soelle, Essential Writings, ed. Dianne Oliver (Orbis Books, 2006)
There are a number of used-book online booksellers ( and, for instance) if you prefer a used, inexpensive copy.  If you are in a country where it is difficult to find these books, write me and we will find a way for me to get scanned readings to you until you can get a hold of the books.
* I will post short readings, meditations, and questions for you to the course blog twice a week, usually on Wednesday during the day and on Saturday evening.

* You will take time to read and ponder over the next three or four days and then write your brief responses on the blog any time before the next posting. We can have further conversation if you have responses to each other!

An online retreat? Really?

* As you saw above, two small books are required. Otherwise, I offer further resources (quotes, images, reflection questions, guidelines for spiritual exercises, explanations and clarifications) online on a blog. More specifically, a closed blog.

* What's a closed blog? It's a blog like this, but it is not public; it is open only to those whom the blog owner-administrator (that's me) allows in. In other words, it is not open to anybody wandering around the internet. Random web surfers will not be able to view either the blog or our conversations in the comments. Once you register for the course, I will send instructions on the one-time sign-in mechanism. After that, the blog will always recognize you.

* We have conversations online in the comments section of each post on the blog. These are written conversations. I will post questions for your reflection and you will ponder them on your own, then reflect on them in community through your twice-weekly check-ins on the blog. You must check in twice a week, but your check-in may be as short as one or two thoughtful paragraphs. You may write more if you wish, but that's the minimum: one or two paragraphs, twice a week.


The course-retreat begins Monday, June 17.

Registration has begun and will remain open till Tuesday, June 18.

To register, write me, Jane Redmont, at I will send you full registration instructions with payment address and online sign-up information. (Both of these are quite simple.)


Seven weeks, $245.

(i.e. $35 per week)

Payment is non-refundable and due upon registration, by check or money order. I will send you the mailing address when you write me to register.

"I am thinking of a friend's answer to that ['Do you have strength to endure? ... to sustain yourself?'] when I was in a state of despair, and had this sense of meaninglessness and never reaching anything, and then he talked about the cathedrals which were built during the Middle Ages. Most of them were built over 200 years, some over 300 years even, and some of the workers in those cathedrals never saw the whole building, they never went to pray there, they never saw the glass and all the beautiful things they gave their life for. And then this friend said to me: 'Listen, Dorothee, we who are building the cathedral of peace, maybe we won't see it either. We will die before it is complete, and yet we are going to build it. We are going on even if we won't live in that building.'" 
Dorothee Soelle, in a conversation with C.F. Beyers Naudé,
published as Hope for Faith: A Conversation (1986)

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