NOTE: this page is available as a pdf HERE.
David Weiss: Public Theologian,* Writer, Teacher, Poet, Speaker, Hymnist
Helping people of faith explore issues of spirituality and justice with grace, imagination and compassion
* Public theology: thinking out loud about God, grace, and the issues we face today so that we are able to live lives of deeper faith with greater conviction.
Available for adult forums, sermons, keynote talks, retreats, hymn sings, short-term residencies, and more. Find out how a public theologian can deepen the way you think … feel … and live your faith. Bring me in for a Sunday morning or another time that works for your community. Here is a list of topics I can present on.
- Except as noted, all presentations work well in a 50-60 minute window—including time for Q&A. I’m also happy to discuss how I might adapt any of these to your specific interests.
AT HOME ON EARTH—Christian Spirituality in a Time of Climate Crisis: On becoming an apocalyptic evangelical prophetic church
No issue will challenge the church or our personal faith more than the looming climate crisis. Alongside the science and technology, public policy and personal choices, our faith can help frame a response that lets us live with conviction, purpose, and meaning even as we face the most rigorous challenge of our lifetime. Offered in a condensed single session, a three-part series, or a half-day/full day retreat. This is the heart of my current focus as public theologian.
When God Was A Little Girl—a Cosmology for our Generation
Built around my award-winning children’s book, this presentation invites us to consider how the stories that shape our earliest thinking also become the infrastructure for our adult imaginations. Far from “simply” a children’s story, this tale is playfully subversive and profoundly theological. Although a children book, this presentation is aimed at adults. As a workshop, it invites participants (either adults or teens) to imagine their own cosmology. (60 min. presentation / 90 min. workshop)
Faith Development—Understanding the Texture of Meaning in Our Lives
Although we tend to think of “faith” as “what we believe,” it can be more insightfully understood as how we make meaning in our lives. From this perspective, to be human is to be a person of faith. Various religious traditions (and non-religious traditions) provide the words and tones with which we weave meaning. Drawing on theology, psychology, moral development, and more, this presentation offers a life-changing glimpse at the nature of faith—and at the shape of faith in your own life. Offered in a condensed single session, in two parts, or as a half-day workshop.
Who Do You Say That I Am? Keeping Company With Jesus Today
Progressive Christians do Jesus a favor by embracing his humanity … but often more because of our discomfort with miraculous claims than because we find his humanity so compelling. Informed by historical research this presentation offers a portrait of Jesus that will make you glad to tell others why you count yourself among the followers of Jesus today. Offered as a single session or (with more depth) in two parts.
Holding the Word Lightly: Poetry as a Tabernacle for the Holy
One way the tabernacle of the ancient Hebrews was more hospitable to God was in its ability to billow with Spirit. Both temples and dogmatic theology can tempt us to imagine we have God at our beck and call. If God is still speaking, perhaps poetry is a genre uniquely suited to speak of God with room left for the Spirit to billow between the lines. David shares a variety of his own theological poetry as sparks for further reflection and conversation.
Acrostic Poetry: Bearing Witness … at the Edge of Faith
Acrostic poetry is a playful form that uses the first letter of each line to carry a hidden message down the left margin of the poem. Easily written but with unlimited depth to them, acrostics are ideal for exploring those facets of faith and life that only come out in the stillness. For a decade I taught acrostic workshops to elementary schoolchildren at the Young Authors Conference. In this workshop (tailored to adults or youth) I teach the basic “skill” of the acrostic poem, shares a few of my own, and then invites participants to craft their own acrostic. (60-90 min workshop)
Paying It Forward: My Journey as an Ally into the Welcoming Story of Scripture
Even (maybe especially!) in welcoming congregations, there remains a deep hunger to become biblically literate and theologically articulate—as lay people—about why our welcome to LGBTQ persons is so full. This is my story, told in a compelling narrative, is rich with biblical imagery and theological insight.
Singing Welcome … Imagining Justice: An “annotated” Hymnsing
I’ve written about twenty fresh hymn texts (for familiar hymn tunes) that set words on “the tune of a welcoming God.” Ideally offered in a sanctuary with music to accompany the 8-12 hymns to be sung. I introduce each text, offer a bit of its backstory and theological architecture, and then we sing it together. (Some hymns might be done as special music by your church’s choir/musicians.) Not only are these hymns sung with deeper meaning during the program, curiosity and attentiveness will also be peaked toward all hymns. (Best offered as a 60-75 minute program)
JUST GOOD SEX: Ethics for Flourishing on the Far Side of Welcome
When we affirm a wide embrace of diverse sexuality does that mean “all the rules” have been erased? No. We are called to be bodied. So how do we make choices that honor God’s intent for us to flourish … on the far side of welcome and within a vocation of embodiment? Can biblically-informed principles (not rules) offer guidance across our diverse experiences as we seek to be faith-full in our sexuality? Hint: it’s complicated … but YES.
The Body as Burning Bush: Coming Out and Other Holy Acts of Human Sexuality
Originally crafted to honor National Coming Out Day (October 11), this presentation situates sexuality as one holy dimension of our humanity. With evocative imagery and a brief overview of sexual ethics.
- 50-60 minutes – $150; longer presentations/workshops are prorated at $150/hour
- Half-day (4-hour) workshops/retreats – $500 Longer commitments negotiable
As a self-employed writer and public theologian, the income I make from presentations is my livelihood. But I am unreservedly committed to sharing my work with faith communities of all means. If these rates are prohibitive, please contact me and we’ll try to find a mutually satisfying resolution.
ABOUT ME – (may be used or adapted for use in promoting events):
David Weiss is an itinerant public theologian with graduate degrees in theology (Wartburg Seminary) and Christian ethics (Notre Dame). His work focuses on sexuality, diversity, peace, and climate crisis. Blessed with a love of words, a passion for justice, and a deep sense of vocation—he and the church haven’t known exactly what to do with each other. After teaching college religion part-time for twenty years, he now writes and speaks as a “public theologian” called to “think the faith” out loud in conversation with the wider church and the public.
His essays have appeared in newspapers across the Midwest; his daily devotions have been carried in both U.S. and Canadian publications; and he’s made dozens of presentations for churches, colleges, and community groups in sixteen states. His published writings include When God Was a Little Girl (children’s book); Memories of the Meal and Sparks Around the Fire (both Lenten chancel dramas); Hearts Unbound (Reader’s Theater on LGBTQ welcome); To the Tune of a Welcoming God (essays on LGBTQ welcome)—and a CD of the same name featuring new hymn texts. David is active in congregational life at St. Paul’s UCC on Summit Ave. He and his wife, Margaret, live in St. Paul. Their blended family includes six children and nine grandchildren. They like keeping close company with creation and their household has had dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, and even worms. Their home, like their life, is fairly cluttered with joy.
David writes “community supported theology” on his blog (www.davidrweiss.com). He is “100% grace-funded”: supported by a community of persons who pledge monthly gifts to sustain his writing. Based on the model of “community supported agriculture,” he promises to regularly supply readers with “boxes” filled with tasty insight, sweet and savory inspiration, and every now and then something you’re not quite sure what to do with. Learn more at http://www.patreon.com/fullfrontalfaith.
David Weiss – Public Theologian – working … writing … speaking on behalf of God’s people & God’s creation