Sunday, March 02, 2008

Off to Boston, baby, yeah!

I got confirmation yesterday that my paper, "A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist: Truth and A/theistic Orthodoxy in the Emerging Church Milieu," got accepted for the Society of Continental Philosophy and Theology conference on Truth, Postmodernism and Religious Pluralism that I've been banging on about in other posts. Very exciting!

I'd booked all of my flights and hotels already because the theme of the conference is so similar to that of my thesis and it would have been a great opportunity to network - even if my paper hadn't been accepted. But it has, so now I need to go and read loads of stuff to prepare for the inevitable questions I'll get and to pray that the Arts and Humanities Research Council are nice enough to pay for my flights!

Here's my brief introduction to whet some appetites concerning "a/theistic orthodoxy":

Jacques Derrida writes that, ‘[w]e have to elaborate another truth of the true, another way of experiencing the truth.’ Jack Caputo’s translation of continental philosophy into a deconstructive theology, which he has recently articulated as a weak theology, begins this elaboration. However, his reworking of Augustine’s facere veritatem, doing or making the truth in one’s heart before witnesses, into making truth ‘come true’ lays him open to a charge of inconsistency in his deployment of the term “truth.” However, this paper argues that the slippage which occurs between Caputo’s conceptualisations of truth is a necessary feature of his theology of the event.

This paper is set in the context of ethnographic data from the UK Emerging Church Milieu, wherein participants are increasingly drawn to both continental philosophy and deconstructive theology. Their notions of truth exhibit the gamut of understandings discernable in Caputo’s work and elements within this milieu similarly seek to celebrate the slash of undecidability between theism and atheism. In conversation with Caputo, I argue for the linkage of this a/theism to an understanding of orthodoxy which arises from the UK Emerging Church Milieu. I argue, therefore, that an “a/theistic orthodoxy” is a practical expression of Caputo’s project of a weak theology as it relates to the concept of truth.

I'll post about "a/theistic orthodoxy" again in the run up to the conference, and address (as I do in the paper) the apparent contradiction in linking these two concepts: a/theism and orthodoxy.


Anonymous said...

Katherine -

I am glad you paper has been accepted.

A question: could you give me the name of one group over 10 people in the UK that collectively embraces a weak theology.....(not Ikon)


Katharine Moody said...

I'm not sure I'm qualified to name a community that COLLECTIVELY embraces Weak Theology as my methodology involves talking to individuals rather than investigating whole communities. This means that I'm more able to talk about individuals from a wide range of communities (who wouldn't all share their beliefs) that have an affinity with Weak Theology.

Anonymous said...


I wonder if the whole 'influence of weak theology on the ecm' thing is a largely mythical academic creation that bears little resemblance to the concrete life situations of actual church communities/groups (only referring to 30-70 or so disgruntled ex-vangelicals with an academic background scattered around the UK). I suppose it goes back to the open ended question of what parameters are used to describe the ecm. The fact that there is no discernable UK group whose statement of values or self description (apart from one) posted on the web reflects a weak theology position is very significant,,,

I appreciate very provocative comments ..


Anonymous said...

'elements within this milieu similarly seek to celebrate the slash of undecidability between theism and atheism'.

An extremely small section of the ECM mostly from an ex-evangelical background are drawn to weak theology. However compared to movements such as the Northumbria Community ( thousands of members)
whose inspiration is Celtic Christianity/new monasticism their actual numbers are very few .....


Katharine Moody said...

I think that an emphasis on numbers is misleading. If (and this isn't something I'm interested in doing) it could be proven that only a small percentage of the UK Emerging Church Milieu are aware of or can be said to mirror Weak Theology, their small percentage does not diminish the interest that this holds for me.

It's important to note that in certain sections of my thesis I am attempting to present the reader with enough diversity about the GLOBAL ECMilieu for them to have an idea of what I'm talking about. However, in other setions of the thesis I am very much restricting my analysis to the people I have interviewed (now about 35).

I'm well aware of the influence of neo-monasticism upon the Emerging Church Milieu and this has an importance place in the chapter of my thesis where I try to paint a picture of the global ECMilieu for my readers. But (among the people I interviewed - and that's important - I'm not trying to describe how truth is conceptualised or functions for the ENTIRETY of the Milieu, just for those people who participated in the study) neo-monasticism has not emerged as influential upon participants' understandings of truth. Sure, it's influential in other ways but not in philosophical ways.

Do you see neo-monasticism as contributing something VITAL to how you understand truth, language, knowledge, representation, realism, etc? Is it as vital to your own understanding of truth as negative theology seems to be?

Anonymous said...


The outline of you paper sounds as though it could give the impression that weak theology exerts a major influence on the people involved in the UK ECM in its entirety - I was not talking about your thesis in general. I agree in itself the numbers game is not important nor is the value of the views of those who completed your survey diminished.

My reference to the Northumbrian Community was as evidence to back up my point that weak theology is not a major influence on the ECM scene.

I was not attacking your thesis but raising concerns about an impression your paper might create which could well be wrong...

I respect the fact it is YOUR thesis and and you have the perfect right to explore any ideas you wish to...


Anonymous said...

I will end my comments here and take seriously my vow not to read any more EC blogs...its time I moved on

I do not really understand the outline of your thesis and cannot discuss it in a credible manner.

My thanks for the time you have taken to answer my comments

Rodney aka S

Mike Morrell said...

I'm glad you're researching this! I resonate quite strongly with aspects of weak theology and am still exploring others--namely, the question of whether 'weak theology' isn't simply 'vigorous agnosticism' in a different light. I just discovered your 'blog, but will be happily linking it to --a research treasure trove in its own right.

Katharine Moody said...

Mike, thanks for the kind comments and generous offer of a link from!

I'm still working through the relationship between weak theology, a/theism and agnosticism. It was a question that came up at a paper I gave last month and I'm looking much more into the history of 'agnosticism' - which as a distinct category of belief isn't particularly old. But I haven't really worked out what I think yet! But glad you're exploring in this direction too.

What are your thoughts on Weak Theology's affinity for others involved with emerging churches?

Katharine Moody said...


I've been teasing you with bits and pieces of the thesis, so I know it's hard for you to see how I'm using Weak Theology. Don't worry, I understand your concerns about distorting the picture I'm painting of the emerging church milieu.

I'm very clear in the paper I'll give in Massachusetts that the philosophical and theological implications I look at in it stem from only one strand that I've identified within the emerging church milieu.

I'm also very conscious that I'll be delivering the paper in the States where the milieu has a few different colours and flavours to it than here in the UK.

Please don't worry about me misrepresenting the milieu. All the other strands I've identified will come together to point the reader towards the milieu.

Equally, I hope you don't feel unable to comment here. I find the points you make useful in helping me to think through ideas as they are forming. So please don't take your leave?

Tell you what... I'll email you a copy of the paper and then we can have a good old fashioned email exchange!!! x

Katharine Moody said...

Oh, and Mike, congrats on being 'Sliced! I live for the day...!!!

Anonymous said...


I enjoy reading your blog and would appreciate reading your paper..despite the fact I am not a fan of weak theology it still fascinates me ... maybe I am in denial and parts resonate with me more than I would care to admit. is an incredible website- it must take a lot of time to keep up to date.

Kierkegaard talks about the religious stage as a risky existential 'leap of faith' in the face of the undecidability of God.
He has been an influence on Pete Rollins and Jack Caputo - he might be worth a look as you think about weak theology....