Kyle is a passionate and experienced educator, with an interdisciplinary teaching repertoire in religion, theology, and international studies. He prioritizes a student-centered, active, approach to learning that engages the experiences and curiosities of his students.
God, Self, and Society (Fall 2020, Spring 2021)
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the dynamics of theological reflection in an academic setting. Framed as a quest for truth, transformation, and justice, the course invites students to explore key questions and themes of enduring human significance in conversation with the classic texts, ideas, and practices that animate the Christian theological tradition. Such questions include: What is theology? What is the ultimate horizon of our lives? What does it mean to be human? Who is Jesus Christ? And how can we know and serve the common good? Fulfills Core requirement for Christian Theology at Boston College
Courses in Repertoire
Angels and Demons
From its earliest days, Christianity has reflected upon the nature of spiritual beings—namely, angels and demons. This course takes a historical approach by surveying important texts and practices in the history of Christian angelology and demonology, including the seminal perspectives of Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Augustine, the Medieval mystics, and contemporary Pentecostals around the world. Particular attention is also paid to modern approaches to questions of belief and doubt in supernatural spirits, and the surprising ways that demonology has reemerged in contemporary reflections on political theology and the nature of evil, engaging Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Walter Wink, Delores Williams, and others.
God: According to James Baldwin
Before he was the renowned public intellectual, essayist, and literary genius, James Baldwin was a preacher. Although his disgust at the hypocrisy and compromise of Christianity eventually led him away from the church—religious themes of spirituality, prophesy, and the power of love remained central to his thought and writing. Always believing that he had been “anointed” as a witness against the evils of American society, particularly racism, there is a sense in which James Baldwin never left the pulpit. This course is an exploration of key religious themes in James Baldwin’s life and writing, with special attention to his fiction texts that engage the experience of the Black Church. We will explore the ways religion (particularly Pentecostal Christianity) influenced James Baldwin’s thoughts on race, sexuality, aesthetics, America, and his own identity. We will also encounter figures who have engaged with Baldwin in the contexts of theology and philosophy of religion. This course will give us chance wrestle with the relationship between racism/sexism/homophobia and religion, the nature and diversity of Black American religious experiences, the connections between spirituality and art, and what it means to produce a politics of love in evil times. We will therefore encounter Baldwin as an important 20th century American religious thinker.
This course is an introduction to the key thinkers and ideas of liberation theology, which emerged simultaneously in Latin American Catholicism and Black American Christianity in the mid-20th century. The course considers liberation theology in its various political and theological context, such as the Second Vatican Council and the advent of neo-liberalism. The course engages paradigmatic thinkers such as James Cone, Gustavo Gutiérrez, and Jon Sobrino as well as critiques of liberation theology from Womanist, Queer, de-colonial, and traditionalist perspectives.
Religion and Racism in the United States
Religion and racism are indelibly linked together in the United States context. Slavery, segregation, and even modern mass incarceration all relate to theological and religious frameworks. The same can be said of abolitionism, Civil Rights, and Black Nationalism. This course considers American racism in light of its various intersections with religion, particularly Christianity, beginning with the roots of slavery and up to the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Particular attention is paid to the significant role of American Evangelicalism. Seminal thinkers including Albert Raboteau, Frederick Douglas, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr. , Thomas Merton, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Delores Williams.
Many religious, and even secular, traditions emphasize the significance and benefits of spiritual practices of discipline and restriction; fasting, meditation, celibacy, even self-mutilation. This course explores historical and theoretical approaches to askesis as a religious and human practice. With particular attention to the history of desert monasticism in Christianity, the course reflects on various criteria of technique, the history and nature of particular disciplines, and the possibility of comparing ascetic practices across history and traditions. Contemporary philosophical and theological reflections on asceticism, by the likes of Michel Foucault, Sarah Coakley, Amy Hollywood, and others put asceticism in conversation with modern political thought and feminist theory. The course also considers modern forms of asceticism in diet & fitness culture and contemporary spiritualities.
"Professor Johnson was one of my favorite professors I've had at BC, and this was my seventh semester here! Every theological concept was connected to contemporary religious, racial, or various types of equality struggles, and this made ancient theology feel extremely relevant. He always encouraged students to share examples from their own lives and experiences to further support class discussion topics, and I've never felt more comfortable sharing my personal experiences to a class. We covered such a range of topics that I've never formally been taught in a course such as how demons are depicted in the Bible and black liberation theology." (Fall 2020).
"The concepts taught challenged some stereotypes I had and made me appreciate theology and faith a lot more.” (Fall 2020).
"Prof. Johnson made a deliberate effort to include online students in class discussions and utilized breakout rooms to connect all students no matter their locations over common discussion questions." (Fall 2020).
"I love how much Prof. Johnson encourages transparency and vulnerability, and the space he has created for our class is safe and encouraging. I also love how much we are encouraged to incorporate our own personal life experiences into relevant class conversations." (Fall 2020).
"The commitment that Kyle had for the class was very impressive. It was nurturing to see his interest in seeing us engage in difficult conversations and learn from each other." (Spring 2020).
"Professor Johnson was the best discussion group TA I've had discussion with while at BC. He always answered questions thoroughly and clarified confusing course material. Additionally, he fostered a welcoming environment that allowed students to critically engage in discussion and analyze our understanding of ethics, religion, and international politics. When courses moved online, he readily adapted and provided a space for students to come together and reflect on COVID–19." (Spring 2020).
"Our TA Kyle was the best. He was so knowledgable and brought his experiences to class, always encouraged us to participate and came up with great ways to make the discussion fun and interactive." (Fall 2018).
"Kyle was a great discussion leader and really succeeded in creating a classroom environment where we could all speak candidly about important issues. I really enjoyed our discussions and he is the best TA that I have had at BC." (Fall 2018).