Meet Dr. Falcone
John P. Falcone is the Ford Visiting Professor of Practical Theology for 2023-2024. His PhD in Theology and Education from Boston College develops a philosophy of teaching based on liberation theology, Biblical studies, and Pedagogy / Theatre of the Oppressed. His MDiv thesis from Union Seminary explores the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt as a kind of interfaith pastoral and political ritual. He also studied Latin and Greek at Fordham University. John has worked in education and pastoral ministry for many years: volunteer training; social work; AIDS ministry; LGBT+ spiritual work; parish-based education for kids and adults; and teaching religion in high school, college, and seminary. John was the founding religion teacher and campus minister at Cristo Rey New York High School. At Cristo Rey schools, kids from low-income families combine classroom learning with professional education; they work at an entry-level, white-collar jobs for five days each month in order to pay for their college prep education. John is also founder and artistic director of LectioEast, which creates online and in-person experiences of “lectio visceralis” (Ignatian reflection, improvised movement, and social analysis). Participants have included local parishes, clergy, campus-ministers, theologians, CPE students, and members of the Iona Community.
John is passionate about bringing people together to create fresh, moving Christian and interfaith rituals. In the spirit of Tom Driver and Cláudio Carvalhaes (both alums and professors at Union Seminary), John wants to return the ritual means of production to everyday people. Hit him up if you want help creating a ritual! Academic interests include theoretical foundations of Religious Education and of Practical Theology; creative pedagogies; Paulo Freire; Theatre of the Oppressed; Classical American Pragmatism; and practices within early Christianity. He is also interested in learning more about Native American experience and philosophy in this part of the world. John is the child of Italian immigrants. He has strong ties with progressive Roman Catholic educators; with progressive Anglo-Catholic and broad-church Anglicans (in the style of “smells, bells, and sneakers” at worship); and with Dignity USA, the LGBTQIA+ Roman Catholic community. He is Episcopalian, and is married to Matias, who works in finance with sustainable, social-impact startups.
John loves Star Trek, the Dune universe, Tolkien, good food, and cats & dogs. Teaching Philosophy I believe that Teaching means “showing how” – showing students how to do things and how to think about information in apt, creative, and meaningful ways. Teaching also means helping students to flourish even when internal messages and external forces may be undermining their own sense of agency, or reducing their flexibility, or repressing their voice. A good teacher helps students to overcome these negative forces. She helps students to think and to speak with more self-possession, with more discerning and more faithful hearts. I believe that the best way to teach is through critical dialogue – we need to talk about our experiences, and about all the data we can possibly gather. Good teaching helps ministry students critically analyze their present practice and critically appropriate religious wisdom and tradition. It helps students make something new, something authentic and fitting, something that is good for themselves and also good for the world. I want students to riff off of whatever they find life-giving in religion; to reject whatever they find death-dealing; and to give thoughtful, grounded reasons for the choices they make. I believe that good teaching employs the body, the mind, the heart, the imagination, the community, and the arts. As I wrote in my Ph.D. dissertation, I want my students to be “critical, creative, and true” – true to their religious tradition; true to their Scriptures or honored writings and practices; true to the evidence; true to their communities; true to “the other,” in whom we encounter the Transcendent; true to the S/spirit, whom we hear deep within – if we listen – calling us to prayer, and reflection, and action.
“Lectio visceralis – Embodied, Online Worship: Praying, Learning and Liberation in the Flesh at BIAPT 2022.” Practical Theology 16, no. 3 (2032): 384-396.
“Body and Spirit Together: Theatre of the Oppressed, Pragmatist Semiotics, and Practical Theological Method.” ARTS: Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies 30, no. 1 (2018): 57-71.
“Peirce, Pragmatism, and Religious Education: Participating More Deeply in God’s Imagination.” Religious Education 111, no. 4 (July/September 2016): 381-397.
“Training Lay People to ‘Practice’ Scripture Rhetorically: A Pedagogical Model with Biblical Precedent and Warrant from the Gospel of Matthew.” Journal of Adult Theological Education 13, no. 1 (2016): 4-17.
“After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging” by Willie James Jennings. Practical Theology 14, no. 6 (2021).
“The Spiritual City: Theology, Spirituality, and the Urban” by Philip Sheldrake. Practical Theology 9, no. 4 (2016).
“Forming a Community of Faith” by Jane Regan. Journal of Adult Theological Education 13, no 1 (2016).
“The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined” by Salman Kahn. Religious Education 108, no. 3 (May-June 2013).
“Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church” by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steven Kang. Religious Education 106, no.1 (January 2011).
“Artisanal Theology: Intentional Formation in Radically Covenantal Companionship” by Lisa M. Hess. Religious Education 105, no. 4 (July 2010).
Regular contributor to Breath of the Spirit: pastoral and scriptural reflections for Dignity USA, LGBTQA+ Catholics (2021-present).
“The Quality of Mercy [World AIDS Day and the Jubilee Year].” With Vincent Manning. The Catholic Times (20 November 2015).
“The Catholic Church and Sexuality: If Only the Hierarchs Would Listen and Learn.” Huffington Post (14 November 2011).
Religious Education Association (USA)
British and Irish Association for Practical Theology
International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry
American Academy of Religion
“Theatre of the Oppressed: Rehearsing the Kingdom,” Radius Performing: The Magazine of the Religious Drama Society of Great Britain, 2019.
“Do Not Quench the Spirit: Rainbow Ministry and Queer Ritual Practice in Catholic Education and Life,” in Christine Firer Hinze and J. Patrick Hornbeck II, eds., More than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity in the Catholic Church, Volume I: Voices of Our Times. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014. 114-123.
Co-author (with Daniela Zsupan), Credo Series Course III: The Promised One: Servant and Savior. Catholic high school textbook series. Westerville, OH: Veritas, 2012.
“Metalogue” [reflective contribution] in Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, Democratizing Biblical Studies: Toward an Emancipatory Educational Space. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009. 184-187.
“Education and Liberation,” in Just Readings: A Loyola University Chicago On-Line Social Justice Reader, ed. by Michael J. Maher and Daniel Hartnett, S.J. Chicago, IL: Loyola University, 2004, 31-41. http://blogs.luc.edu/socialjustice/files/2012/02/JustReadings.pdf