Somewhat closer to finalising this term’s Religious Studies seminar series (co-ordinating with Prof. Paul Heelas – he’s the one at the back - I'm not pictured!), I'm filling a gap by giving a trial run of ideas I hope to present at the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology conference in April. The conference now has it's own website here.
The paper has to be written and submitted by 15 Feb, and will be presented to philosophers and theologians. I'm used to sociologists of religion, so I'm going to give this more philosophical paper it's first outing in the friendly atmosphere of our Departmental Seminar Series '08. It'll be entitled "Truth, Weak Theology, and the Emerging Church Milieu," to cover enough ground for an hour's talking and half an hour's questions - which can then be distilled into the 3,000 word paper I need to submit to the SCPT.
I'm going to try to solidify my thoughts about a new approach to the emerging church phenomenon, trying to define the (porous) boundaries of a milieu, rather than attempting to contain the diversity exhibited by emerging churches in one all-inclusive definition of an 'emerging church.' So I'll be playing with this idea of a milieu, and how I might present this milieu to others unfamiliar with the subject. It'll be a more sociological introduction to get everyone into the topic, before moving onto some more philosophical and theological aspects.
Still in the process of transcribing, I'm trying to talk in broad brush strokes about the fieldwork, but by the time it comes to presenting the paper I hope to have done enough transcribing to speckle it through with quotations from participants. I'll talk broadly about the themes around truth that are emerging from the fieldwork (can't help using that word sometimes!), before concentrating on deconstruction and weak theology.
I'll post a bit more about this paper once I know where it's going, but if anyone is in the Lancaster area on Monday Feburary 4th (4.30 - 6.00pm) you'd be more than welcome to come along! It's held in a place called the Institute for Advanced Studies (which makes every other department in the University feel like it isn't advanced enough!).
I'll also doing a mini-presentation around "Critical Terms for Religious Studies" the week after (Feb 11th). Paul is going to present the difficulties surrounding the term 'belief,' and I'll be exploring 'culture.' Increasing attention is being paid to the manifestations of religion and spirituality in what is commonly referred to as 'popular culture' or 'contemporary culture.' Entities such as 'Western culture' and 'indigenous culture' are also frequent sites of study for researchers. New expanding areas incorporate this language, such as the study of 'occulture' (Chris Partridge). But what do researchers mean when they talk of 'culture'? What is this thing called 'culture'? What is 'popular culture'? Or 'indigenous culture'? How have researchers defined 'culture'? Why is 'culture' critical in the study of religion? All this and more... Feb 11th.
UPDATE: Check out the schedule for our Lent Term seminar series here.