Themes, Speakers, and Books for Spring 2024

We’re excited to announce our themes and speakers for another season of Public Theology: The Work of Justice in Spring 2024. Focusing on a specific theme each month, conversation events provide grounding content as we work on developing spiritual and theological wisdom for integrating faith and justice. Join us for conversation and learning and community building.

All events will be both in-person and online.

January: Prayer and Justice | Cole Arthur Riley (in Berkeley on 1/28)

What does it mean to practice prayer as protest and a work of justice? 

Cole Arthur Riley is a writer and poet. She is the author of the NYT bestseller, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us, and her forthcoming book, Black Liturgies. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Guernica, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. Cole is also the creator of Black Liturgies, a space that integrates spiritual practice with Black emotion, Black literature, and the Black body; and a project of The Center for Dignity and Contemplation where she serves as Curator. 

February: War and Justice | Amir Marshi (in SF on 2/4)

If there is a God of peace, what does it mean that we live in a world constantly at war? 

Amir Marshi, a Palestinian PhD student in history and anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is an organizer, researcher, and writer hailing from the city of Nazareth. He graduated with a Master’s in Divinity from the University of Chicago. Marshi’s research centers on the political history of the Arab Church in Palestine-Syria, the North American Arab diaspora, and the colonial history of Christian Zionism. He has written on the impact of the Apartheid wall and colonial settlements in and around Jerusalem on the geopolitical and social fabric of Palestinians in Jerusalem, contributing as a researcher and author for the Jerusalem Story website. Amir co-founded the Edward Said Forum for Palestinian students in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Department at Tel Aviv University, as well as the Souq Stories project—a multi-sited photographic exhibition spotlighting historic Palestinian open markets. 

March: Gender, Politics, and Justice | Isaac Sharp (in SF on 3/3)

What does faith have to do with gender and politics? 

Isaac Sharp is Visiting Assistant Professor and Faculty Director of Online and Part-Time Programs at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In addition to The Other Evangelicals, he is the co-editor of Evangelical Ethics: A Reader in the Library of Theological Ethics series, as well as Christian Ethics in Conversation

April: Justice in a Multi-Faith Society | Shirin Shafaie (in NYC on 4/14)

How can we come together to work for justice when religious differences so often pull people and communities apart? 

Dr Shirin Shafaie studied Philosophy (BA) and Philosophy of Art (MA) in Iran, and Middle East Politics (MSc), and Film and TV (MA) in the UK. She completed her doctoral research on ‘Contemporary Iranian War Narratives: A Dialectical Discourse Analysis’ at SOAS, University of London, where she has taught Middle East Politics to post-graduate students. She is a research fellow at the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies (CMCS) in Oxford where she has worked as a member of the research group on ‘Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam’ and is currently writing a monograph on ‘Reading Gen. 37- 50 in conversation with Shia Islam’ focusing on topics such as Genealogy, Nation-Building, Dream and Interpretation, Seduction, Imprisonment, Leadership, amongst others. Shirin is also the founder and director of Visual Academics Ltd., an independent film production and training organisation that helps academics to use video as part of their research to increase impact and improve public engagement. 

May: Race and Justice | Bonnie Kwon (in SF on 5/5), Lisa Sharon Harper (in Philadelphia on 5/18) 

How has Christianity contributed to the making of race throughout history and what can be done about it today? 

Bonnie is a child of immigrants, a parent, and believer in collective impact. As a policy officer for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), she helps develop and implement the foundation’s policy advocacy strategy. Prior to WKKF, she was as a partner at the Reimagine Collective, an association of mission-driven Asian American strategists, organizers, and designers; director of network innovation at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum in Oakland, California; and deputy regional director for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders. She began her career as an organizer at the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington, D.C. and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. 

Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by designing forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment and common action. Ms. Harper is the author of several books, including Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican…or Democrat (The New Press, 2008); Left Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Elevate, 2011); Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014); and the critically acclaimed, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right (Waterbrook, a division of Penguin Random House, 2016). Her latest book is Fortune: How Race Broke My Family And The World–And How To Repair It All

To delve deeper through readings, discussions, and other individual and group activities, join us for a month, a season, or a year or more!

Seek Faith, Learn Justice, Together in Community


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