Thursday, April 24, 2008

Conference Paper taken out of the Blogosphere

I've decided not to post in too much detail about the "Truth and A/theistic Orthodoxy" paper I gave recently, as I'm concerned about putting my ideas out there when I hope to publish in academic journals and monograph form later this year / next year. So I've decided to delete the earlier posts I wrote in which I detailed what I argued. I hope readers understand.

I'm going to blog very briefly back at the original post (here) about what I argued and about the responses I got to the paper.

Please email me at if you would like to read the paper, and I'll happily send you a copy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist: Truth and A/theistic Orthodoxy in the Emerging Church Milieu - part two

This post has been deleted. I feel that it went into too much detail concerning what I argued in my recent conference paper, and therefore threatened the publication of the paper in journal or monograph form later this year / next year. I hope readers understand.

Back at the original post (here), I blog very briefly about what I argued and about the responses I got from other conference delegates.

Please feel free to email me at if you would like to read the paper in its entirety.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist: Truth and A/theistic Orthodoxy in the Emerging Church Milieu - part one

[update: this post has been edited, to remove too much detail about my paper - which threatened the paper's later publication in journal and/or monograph form. If you would like to read the paper, please email me at and I would be happy to send you a copy]

My paper at the "Postmodernism, Truth, and Religious Pluralism" conference went well.

I was nervous. I'd been imagining large the large auditoriums you see in films set on American university campuses, but the room wasn't too big and was all on one level - although I did have to stand up to deliver the paper, which I've never done before. I've also never really READ a paper. I usually do papers based on PowerPoint presentations and just talk. Then I sort of write the paper after I've presented it, so it was a bit odd for me to have to read something out. I hope my presentation skills were up to it! Early on, I decided to play the (always useful) postgraduate student card - conference delegates tend to be easier on us PGs. I decided to emphasise my cute Britishness too. It seemed to work.

First off, I introduced my project, exploring the UK emerging church milieu through the question of how truth is conceptualised. And explained the impetus of this focus in relation to critics' claims that the emerging church is departing from the biblical notion of truth as correspondence.

Then I read the paper. I posted my introduction in an early post, so here I'll just briefly make my main arguments and blog about the responses I got from other conference delegates:

Primarily, my paper argued that there is slippage in the work of Jack Caputo between the ways in which he conceptualises the notion of truth. However, I demonstrated that this slippage is a functional necessity of his weak theology. Although he slides away from a wholly performative notion of truth (as event, as confession, as weeping, as praying) towards truth justice - as a telos and as an adequatio (regardless of whether this telos can ever be known or whether it's equation to reality can ever come about) - this slide mirrors a key feature of Caputo's theology of the event: the slippery distinction between wholly other, undeconstructible messianic structures (truth as event and circumfession) and determinate messianisms (justice, hospitality, gift, forgiveness and the kingdom of the kingdomless).

Secondly, my paper situated this argument in the context of ethnographic data from the UK emerging church milieu, in which may participants are increasingly drawn to continental philosophy and deconstructive theology. I demonstrated that the understandings of truth discernable in Caputo's work can also be observed in the conversations I have had with a wide range of people within the emerging church milieu. In particular, I link the a/theism advocated by Caputo to an understanding of pragmatic orthodoxy which arises from within the UK emerging church milieu. This reformulation of orthodoxy moves away from right belief and towards believing in the right way, i.e. lovingly, and holding your beliefs lightly. I argue that what I call the "a/theistic orthodoxy" observable within the emerging church milieu is a practical expression of Caputo's project, particularly as it relates to the concept of truth. Hence my title: A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist... i.e., an a/theist.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Update: The States

So March, April and May are pretty busy times in my department as all the research students madly rush to complete pieces to hand in at the end of April for the Panel Reviews that are held at the end of May. The Easter holidays usually pass in a panicked blur of reading and writing and editing. At least they usually do for me. It's the time of year when I realise I haven't done as much work as I should have done, and desperately try to rectify that situation. That was a long winded way of apologising for the scarcity of recent posts!

I recently got back from Boston. I stocked up on American goodness (Reese's peanut butter cups and Hershey's peanut butter kisses); I ate eggs over easy, a bagel with lite cream cheese, and a Boston kreme donut from Dunkin Donuts; I bought a large coke from Wendy's which lasted me two days; I found out what a Tootsie Roll is; and I got maple syrup candies for a UK-bound US mate. I went on a Duck Tour of Boston (my World War Two amphibious landing vehicle was either Beacon Hilda or Back Bay Bertha - can't remember exactly), taking in the Christian Science Headquarters, Boston Public Library, Copely Square, Trinity Church, Boston Public Gardens, the Make Way for Ducklings statue, Boston Common, Cheers, Beacon Hill, the State House, the Charles River, Bunker Hill, the USS Constitution, Old North Church, and the Holocaust Memorial. I went up to the SkyWalk observatory at the Prudential centre for a 360 of the city; shopped at Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Macy's and Filene's Basement; and watched the Boston Bruins kick Montreal Canadien butt 2-1 in overtime Sunday night (only on tv, but it was still very exciting!).

I also did some work. I went to Boston for a conference at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, a Christian liberal arts college that was hosting the "Postmodernism, Truth, and Religious Pluralism" conference of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology. I meant to post the programme before I went but things got a little on top of me! I'm going to blog about the conference in general on Jason Clark's site some time in the near future, but here's the programme to whet your appetite. I'll blog more in relation to my paper ("A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist: Truth, A/theistic Orthodoxy, and the Emerging Church Milieu") soon too.

Friday, April 11

Roger Haight, Union Theological Seminary: "The Impact of Pluralism on Ecclesiology."
Ed Mooney, Syracuse University: "Tactile Truth: A View from the Trenches."
Katharine Sarah Moody, Lancaster University: "A New Kind of Christian is a New Kind of Atheist."

Saturday, April 12

Thomas Clarke, Stonehill College: "Truth and Castration."
Marion Larson and Sarah Shady, Bethel University: "Interfaith Dialogue in a Pluralistic World: Insights from Martin Buber and Miroslav Volf."
Wilson Dickinson, Syracuse University: "The Other of the Heading: The Deconstruction of Religion and Doing the Truth."
Lovisa Bergdahl, Stockholm University: "'Lost in Translation': On the Untranslatable and its Ethical Implications for Religious Pluralism."
Neal DeRoo, Boston College: "Toward a Testimonial Understanding of Reason and Religion in the Public Sphere."
Richard Kearney, Boston College: "Anatheism: Welcoming Strange Gods."