For those who are interested, the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame has set up a new prize for popular essays dealing with problem of evil in relation to modern thought. The Lewis Essay Prize has been established to provide up to 10 awards of $3,000 each for essays published in popular venues that present the state of the art or make new progress on the topics funded through the Problem of Evil in Modern and Contemporary Thought project during the 2010-2013 academic years.
Essays must be at least 1,000 words in length and must be published in a popular, non-academic publication with a circulation of at least 12,000. Publications can be religious in orientation (e.g., Christianity Today, First Things, Christian Century) or secular (e.g., Harper’s, Times Literary Supplement, The National Review, The Atlantic). Selected online publications will also be considered (e.g. Slate.com). Essayists are encouraged to consult with the Center’s director to determine the suitability of a proposed venue for prize eligibility. Entries must be accepted for publication between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013.
Hard copies of entries should be sent to:
C.S. Lewis Essay Prize
c/o Michael Rea, Director
Center for Philosophy of Religion
University of Notre Dame
418 Malloy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Am I wrong to suspect that grief, the genuine and loud experience and expression of total strickenness and sorrow, is almost totally unacceptable today, both in and outside the church?
And correspondingly, whether or not we reject “all violence” on Christian principles, I wonder if the violence irrupting from grief, from anguish is for us the most unspeakable and reproachable violence. Violence for the sake of security, justice, or retribution, or that eminently understandable violence, the violence of order and reasonable process, perhaps these we might understand but the violence that springs from: ” By the rivers of Babylon we sit down and weep . . . How blessed will be the the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock!” — this violence, the irrational violence of mothers, daughters, of sons, fathers, and friends, we shrink back from in disgust, in visceral fear. And in this shrinking, do we not turn our back on any possibility of speaking truth? I think so.
The very best in collaborative theology blogging these days is going on at Women in Theology (WIT), who have been on a roll of fantastic posts lately. Also be sure to check out Memoria Dei for other top quality stuff from a great group of bloggers.
Also, people should keep their eye on the most recent solo blog to be added, that of Michael Gibson of IVP. There looks to be more good stuff coming our way from him as well.
The Explorations in Christian Theology and Apocalyptic working group invites individual paper proposals for an Additional Meeting to be held during the 2011 American Academy of Religion meeting in San Francisco, November 19th – 22nd, 2011.
The group will host a panel session on the theme:
Jacob Taubes and Christian Theology.
The organizers would especially invite proposals for papers which engage in constructive theological reflection on the themes and arguments of Taubes’ Occidental Eschatology (Stanford University Press, 2009) and the essays collected in From Cult to Culture: Fragments toward a Critique of Historical Reason (Stanford University Press, 2009).
Paper presentation will be approximately thirty minutes in length.
Proposals should include your name, institutional affiliation, and the title of the proposed paper, as well as a 250 word abstract.
It’s always struck me as quite odd how the throat-clearing that goes on at the front of so many quasi-intellectual essays talking about recent celebrity drama/gossip/insane meltdowns inevitably takes the form of the author establishing with absolute clarity their own complete and utter disinterest in celebrities. Apparently the only way you can establish yourself as a compelling voice about this particular facet of pop culture is to claim that you yourself, unlike that huddled masses crowding around the tabloid displays in the checkout lines, are above even giving a shit about our nation’s economic and entertainment elite.
Why is this? I can only surmise that its a kind of ressentiment or at best a sort of tactical self-deception that the author knows they’re going to need to engage in in order to stomach talking about people much richer and famous than they. In order for me to sound both current and interesting, I have to feign complete disinterest in the matter I’m about to spend a whole bunch of time having a metadiscussion about. If I were to admit being interested in the banal topic I’m writing about, all fictive authority and supercool pop cultural street cred would melt away and I’d be just another talking head passing on celebrity gossip on EW.
Allow me to venture an unprovable, but I think quite probably true hypothesis about what’s actually going in most celebrity commentators. If anyone really and truly doesn’t care that much about Brad and Angelina’s most recent adoptions and affairs, I’ll wager its the talking head who is forced to sit across from them and act interested as they interview them. By contrast it is online magazine writer, whose book likely sits somewhere around #1,079,836 on Amazon, who actually does care, feverishly, about what’s going on in celebrity culture and how they can write about it in a way that establishes themselves as decidedly above the fray of the cultural trend of celebrity fascination. Indeed, I’d contend that there’s a good case to be made that it is denial of interest in celebrity culture that is the most developed and potent instance of celebrity fascination itself. People that really don’t care about celebrities don’t care enough to prattle on about it.
As I’m sure many of you have heard, there’s now a brand new Confession App on the market for Roman Catholics — available for iPhone and iPod Touch for a very reasonable $1.99! Appararently it’s gotten the imprimatur from at least one Catholic Bishop, and I was surprised to learn that it was developed in conversation with Catholic theologian Thomas Weinandy.
What are the theological implications of this? I submit that it falsifies, in pretty much every way, John Milbank’s thesis about there being a Catholic “alternative” to modernity.
So this may just be a throwback to some of my conservative evangelical roots, but I’m sure many of us are familiar with the common pastoral injunction that Christians, biblically speaking, ought not to ever even consider marrying one who was not a Christian. After all, this is what Paul referred to in 2 Cor 6:14 when he commanded us not to “be unequally yoked [Gk: heterozugeo] with unbelievers.”
Now, I think a contextual reading of the passage makes abundantly clear that what Paul is arguing against is not related to marriage and sexuality at all, but rather in trying to convince the Corinthians to adhere to his teachings rather than those of potential (unbelieving) competitors. But whatever, leaving the exegetical reality of that behind, lets take a look at what it might mean for marriage if we took the common appropriation of this text seriously.
The most striking part of it is the “unequal” business. If the text is taken (correctly) to be referring to non-Christian teachers in conflict with Paul’s message it makes sense. Their message is one that is mismatched, unfitting, inferior to the good news that Paul is trying to bring the Corinthians. But if this is somehow about marriage, doesn’t that imply a fundamental inequality between partners as being inscribed into marriage itself? It seems to me that there is a hidden enthusiasm among proponents of “don’t marry non-Christians” interpreters of this verse about the potential door this opens to construing marriage as a hierarchical relation of power. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.
I just wanted to make mention of several of the other groups reading through Barth’s Church Dogmatics around the blogosphere. In addition to ours, Cabe and Matt (and now Adam) have been reading through the CD for a while now. They are currently well into 2/I.
In addition, Daniel Kirk is also doing a read through at his own blog. Also, it should be noted that Jeremy powered through the whole thing like a champ last year and his various posts on the experience are quite a good read. I don’t know of any others, but I’m sure they’re out there, so by all means post a link to any others I’m unaware of.
Stop what you’re doing and read the hell out of this right now. Patton Oswalt has written the best treatment to date offering a Hegelian theological approach to saving pop culture through a cosmic death-resurrection apocalypse. This is fabulous stuff. The video here is funny, but the full article must be read by all.
I’m a staunch defender of blogging as a mode of theological discourse. However, to deny that there are some pathologies that its easy for us bloggers to fall into would be a tad irresponsible. To that end, I give you the first of hopefully several unveilings of theoblogging “strategies” that we sometimes fall prey to in an effort to win favor for our supercool ideas and projects.
One great one is to say, sort of as an aside in the course of talking about something, “I’m tempted to take a swipe at ______, but I will refrain.” This is one of those great ways to sneak in a backhanded “Oh snap!” moment in your campaign to express your theological cleverness. Not only do you get to take your jab, you get to valorize your magnanimous restraint at the same time! Too often we never stop to wonder, is saying that you are tempted to take a cheap shot at a theological idea and then stating that you are resisting said temptation, simply a convenient way of taking said cheap shot? Might this not be a way of avoiding speaking critically in a way that would involve the kind of in-depth theological discussion that might betray one’s own ignorance and misunderstanding of that very idea?
I’m afraid this is often the case. But this tactic definitely helps up one’s theoblogging coolness quotient and allows you to rest assured that all the people who already agreed with your perspective on the issue in question got a good chuckle out of your witticism.
“Many people participate in left-leaning politics, practice political correctness and endorse the radical critique of Western culture in the name of race, class and gender without understanding that they are aiding and abetting Marxist revolutionaries whose goal is to turn the whole world into a Soviet Union.”
While I’m a little bit late to the party, I want to make sure to direct folks to the excellent new blog, Women in Theology (WIT). Boasting nine different authors writing from various academic and disciplinary theological contexts, this blog helps to fill a still-wide lacuna in the theological blogosphere. There are plenty of fascinating posts from the last couple months that merit attention, but please take special note of the most recentposts which properly point out some of the mind-numbing madness involved in Milbank’s latest post on sex. Thank you!
I look forward to more great posts from this important blog. Keep up the good work!
I’ve recently published an interview with Nate Kerr over at TOJ that delves into some of the issues that have surfaced in recent discussions about Christology, ecclesiology, and mission. Check it out.
Here’s one segment:
My contention is that the focus upon the singularity of Jesus Christ forces us to rethink what we mean by the task of theology as being both dogmatic and missionary in today’s context. By dogmatic I mean to say that Christian theology is to be given to the confession of the praise of the doxa, the glory of the Lord, that shows forth in the apocalyptic singularity of Jesus Christ. And that glory is that Jesus, as the eternally sent One, has liberated the world from its oppressed laboring under the powers and principalities and, by way of this liberation, has reconciled the world to Godself. That is the gospel; that is the good news. By missionary I mean to stress that theology can only be faithfully dogmatic insofar as it is forged in the ongoing encounter and solidarity with the world’s hearing of and response to this singular gospel.
This, it seems to me, means two things primarily for how theology is to be rethought and practiced today. First, it means to insist upon the apocalypse of Jesus Christ as the singular dandum from which all theological thought must emerge. Bruce McCormack’s reading of Barth has been most important for keeping me focused upon this point. Theology determined by the singular revelation that is Jesus Christ cannot at any point or in any degree make recourse to an assumed cultural or revelational datum (a “given”) but must think in the train of that One who gives himself “anew in each new moment” as a singular dandum (“to be given”). Second, we must not forget that the singular identity of Jesus Christ as the resurrected crucified one is the identity of that one who was not afraid to lose himself in abandonment to and in identity with the marginalized and oppressed of this world. Insofar as such oppression is the work of idolatrous powers, such identification and solidarity with the oppressed is the very condition of the interruption and overcoming of these powers by the doxa, the glory of God. And so insofar as Jesus is the singular dandum of theology who gives himself to be given, we must insist that we only ever encounter Jesus, as Kierkegaard would say, in the forgetfulness of himself in the suffering world, in the giving of himself incognito in the poor and suffering neighbor. Mission, as such, thus becomes that movement of self-giving whereby we are given ever-anew to receive that one Christ who gives himself precisely by giving himself ever-anew in what Bonhoeffer calls the “strangeness” of the other. But this means that mission is itself a certain kind of preferential option for the poor. For it is precisely as this singular Jesus turns to give himself to and identify with the dying and soon-to-be-dead poor of this world (and we find this movement all throughout the Gospel of Mark, for example) that Jesus makes his way to the cross. And it is as he moves to the cross with, for, and as these poor that Jesus is given to receive the genuinely new and irruptive doxa of God’s coming reign—resurrection. In turn, it is precisely as our thoughts and words give us to live and speak in solidarity with the dying and soon-to-be-dead poor of this world, to eat and drink with them, that we theologians are given with, for, and as these poor to receive, and to bespeak, the genuinely new and irruptive doxa of God’s coming reign.
The second session of this years Karl Barth Blog Conference is complete. There are lots of conversations are still going strong, so make sure to catch up on your reading and feel free to contribute more to the discussion. Here is what we saw presented this week:
The third and final session of the 2010 KBBC will take place sometime between AAR and Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for precise dates for that. Thanks to WTM and David Congdon for all their work on this year’s excellent conference!
The Karl Barth Blog Conference is now in its second week. Make sure to check out the introductory post letting us know what’s in store for us this week and the first installment, dealing with Barth in dialogue with the Coen Brothers.
Here’s the outline for the week:
Monday: Barth in Conversation with the Coen Brothers, Jon Coutts (plenary), Brad East (response).
Tuesday: Barth in Conversation with Robert Kegan, Blair Bertrand (plenary), Katherine M. Douglass (response).
Wednesday: Barth in Conversation with Pauline Apocalyptic, Shannon Nicole Smythe (plenary), Andrew Guffey (response).
Thursday: Barth in Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas, Halden Doerge (plenary), Ry O. Siggelkow (response).
Friday: Barth in Conversation with Kathryn Tanner, Scott Jackson (plenary), David W. Congdon (response).