Monday, November 16, 2009

More on Ecumenism next year

As well as the Irish School of Ecumenics' "From World Mission to Interreligious Witness: Visioning Ecumenics in the 21st Century" conference, next year (the centenary of the 1910 World Mission conference in Edinburgh - click here for a firsthand account) also prompts Free to Believe's "Interfaith - The New Ecumenism?" conference, which I saw advertised here by the Progressive Christianity Network (Britain)'s . It will run from Thurs 27 - Sat 29 May 2010 at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire. It costs £140 including ensuite accommodation and meals, and the keynotes include


Here's some more blurb. I'm a bit reticent of the language of this blurb, particularly where it implies that members of other religions somehow need to learn to live with and love each other even more than Christians. But, here it is all the same:

"The aim of this conference, organised by Free to Believe, is to explore the possibility that interfaith is the new ecumenism. We will hear from Christians who are committed to this possibility, from Jewish and Islamic speakers about the possibilities they see for it, and from the General Secretary of Churches Together in England, David Cornick, to give him a chance to please for the continued relevance of the work for Christian unity. Where is the cutting edge of unity now?

"In the wise words of the French Roman Catholic Cardinal Mercier: 'In order to unite with one another, we must love one another; in order to love one another, we must know one another; in order to konw one another, we must go and meet one another.' Today, while those words still apply among Christians, do they not apply with even greater force to those of other great world religions like Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Sikh? Can we live together? Can we learn to love each other?"

But, anyway, the reason I've posted a few conferences on ecumenism is that I'm thinking through what I want to do next in my academic career (forgetting for now that I haven't yet finished my thesis!) and the question, "where is the cutting edge of unity now?" is particularly interesting to me. I'm hoping to build on my thesis' identification of an "a/theistic cultural imaginary" to ask how this social imaginary imagines and performs "society" and "sociality." My thesis focuses on emerging church discourse (interview data, published literature, online media, participant observation) so I hope to look next at how what is spoken about actually gets done in practice. It's relatively easy to see how individuals might adopt a deconstructive theology as a worldview, but how might a collective "do" deconstructive theology? How might a collective "be" deconstructive? Particularly given Derrida's concerns about "community"? Anyway, I'll post a bit more about how I see this research developing later, as I'm in the middle of trying to put something more concrete together.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Outside a tiny subgroup in society of middle class university educated left leaning intellectuals who are predominantly ex-evangelicals a/theology has no appeal.

Rodney

Anonymous said...

I myself have to own up as I fit into this catergory but we are a rare species of human being who will soon be extinct like the dinasaurs!!

Rodney

Katharine Moody said...

Hi Rodney,

I wonder what leads you to make that assumption? How can you say "no appeal"? On the basis of what evidence do you assert that? And why do you say that this group of people is becoming extinct? What is that based upon? Also, your choice of phrasing appears very dismissive.

I hope when it's finally finished that you'd like to read my thesis? I argue for the attractiveness, coherence, and practicality of deconstructive theology like Jack Caputo's for many reasons - both to leftist intellectual Christians and others. And I give an evidenced and reasoned argument for why I think this. And I very much disagree that the appeal is limited to ex-evangelicals; Caputo is a Catholic, for a start!

I acknowledge that because I've been concentrating on finishing my thesis I've not been able to write as many posts on the development of my argument as I would have liked. But I envisage being able to remedy this over the next year, after submission - once I've done the thesis and can use it as a springboard to online conversations.

So I do hope to be able to post more of my evidence and argument, so that we can have a better conversation as we'll have something more concrete to talk about, you know?

Anonymous said...

Katherine

I base these comments on the UK


I say this more in sorrow but nobody takes theology seriously are a factor that influences lifestyle- people both inside and outside of church are predominantly influenced by the prevailing culture and are indifferent in their daily lives to whether God is real or non-real etc. The tiny amount of people like me who do try to explore this are declining to the point of oblivion. Just look at book sales for any books on theology in the UK

I wish it were otherwise but that is the truth.

Rodney

Katharine Moody said...

Truth or personal observation? :)

I think you might be able to find evidence for the decline in "theology" book sales, but does that really mean that people aren't thinking about theology, aren't effectively "doing theology," theologising, all the time?

This raises interesting questions about what you think "theology" is. I would say that the "prevailing culture" is just as much a theology! John Milbank and Radical Orthodoxy would argue that prevailing culture is not a-theological, it is not un-theological, but that it is actually an "anti-theology."

Whilst I wouldn't necessarily agree with all that Milbank says (I think he spends rather too much time worrying about who is "in" and who is "out," who is theological and who is anti-theological) I would agree that humans are all theological, in the sense that we all have faith committments of some sort or another, even secularists, humanists, atheists, etc., are being theological and doing theology when they think about their world.

Do you think that consumerism really provides people with no space to think about their world? It might be trying to get them to think about the world in a certain (individualist, consumerist, capitalist, call it whatever) kind of way, but doesn't it also provide opportunities to think differently? Isn't that exciting? Liberating? Salvific, even?

Katharine xxx

Anonymous said...

I discuss and find myself defending the emerging church with a number of friends and family in Belfast - this characterisation is the predominant view that the critics I talk to have of the movement...I was being flippant.

Rodney

Katharine Moody said...

Typing tone is hard to determine without emoticons ;)

Anonymous said...

If theology is defined as Theos, God-talk or reflection about 'God' the vast majority of people in the hurly burly messiness of their everyday lives in the modern secular UK do not have any interest on this subject- apathy or indifference reigns as it is irrelevant to the daily routine of life.

Lynch in his book on progressive spirituality outlines a certain basic life philosphy that guides many people eg 'Am I attractive enough'

I suppose it raises the question of what is theology. Most blokes that I encounter are passionate and have a tribal identity around football...is this theology?

Rodney

Anonymous said...

Hello Katherine

my computer does not have emoticons!!

Rodney

Katharine Moody said...

:(