Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sociology of Religion Christianity Conference

I heard back today that my abstract for the British Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Study Group's "Changing Face of Christianity in the 21st Century" conference got accepted.

My paper will basically attempt to summarise the conclusions from my PhD thesis and is entitled, "Emerging Cultural Imaginaries and Radical Sociality: Narrating Difference and Per(ver)forming Christian Community." Here's the abstract:

‘There is then a twofold work for those projects involved in developing transformative practices of hope: the work of generating new imaginary significations and the work of forming institutions that mark such significations’ (Graham Ward, Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice, p.146)

The emerging church is a diverse milieu of individuals and communities connected by social networking technologies. Strong affinities can be detected between its visions for Christianity in the 21st century and Radical Orthodoxy and deconstructive theology. Milieu participants construct two “imaginary significations” or “cultural imaginaries” that place these theologies into narratives that both make religious sense to the emerging church and make sense of emerging church religiosity. These imaginaries are performed through expressive actions that function as the means of the formation and transformation of individuals and collectives.

This paper identifies two cultural imaginaries from fieldwork with the emerging church and presents the ways in which difference and community are narrated and performed by milieu participants. It argues, however, that an “a/theistic cultural imaginary” is most able to furnish the emerging church milieu with the narratival and performative means of affirming and enacting a radical theological sociality of difference without division within the post-secular pluralism of the United Kingdom.

The conference is being hosted by the University of Edinburgh and runs from April 6-8 2010. You can download the registration form here, or book and pay online here.


Anonymous said...

'The emerging church is a diverse milieu of individuals and communities connected by social networking technologies.
Strong affinities can be detected between its visions for Christianity in the 21st century and Radical Orthodoxy and deconstructive theology

Gorgon Lynch in his book about progressive spirituality was able outline certain basic commonly shared values and beliefs and also to identify certain networks/groups/movements broadly within the landscape of the progressive milieu which was informative.

I see other theologies such as Christian progressive liberalism exerting a far greater influence on the emerging church milieu than either RO or deconstructive theology but until I have some more concrete idea about your 'broad landscape picture' of what the emerging church is I cannot discuss it with you as I do not think we are on the same wavelength. Can do do the same in general terms as Gordon Lynch does?

Perhaps a link to an earlier post?


Katharine Moody said...

Hi Rodney,

I know we've spoken before about how Gordon Lynch's work on progressive spirituality has definitely influenced my approach to the emerging church milieu. It is why I'm speaking of a milieu, trying to indicate that there is a lot more going on than what I am focusing on and that, although there are identifying features (like what theologies are at work), the very nature of the emerging church is more amorphous than many definitions and treatments of it suggest.

I've also said before that my thesis doesn't ask "what is the emerging church?" I'm looking at how the notion of "truth" is conceptualised and how this might suggest whether Radical Orthodoxy or deconstructive theology are theologically appropriate for the milieu.

Radical Orthodoxy and deconstructive theology are two theological options out of many that have been suggested for the milieu and can be seen as operating within the milieu. I don't think that my focus on these two (after all, my thesis has to have some parameters around it) in anyway suggests that there aren't others.

I do have a section in Chaper One where I introduce the reader to the emerging church and characterise it as a milieu with distinguishing features (that include progressive liberal theology). But this is not my main focus.

I was sure I'd already posted about what I see as the 6 committments that those involved in the emerging church milieu exhibit, but I can't find it. I'll try to write something to that in the next few days, but I'm currently trying to get a research proposal finished for a post-doc so I'll see what I can do.

As always, Rodney, thanks for the questions. Love Katharine x

Anonymous said...

Ah Katherine I see we have quickly reached our usual impasse

I know your thesis main subject is not 'what the emerging church is' but you constantly make reference to the 'emeging church milieu' - despite reading your blogs many times I do not have a clue about to whom you or what you are actually referring to with this phrase and so cannot discuss whether RO or Deconstructive theology is 'appropriate' or 'has a strong affinity with' etc. I am trying to dialogue with you but it is a case of not understanding.


Anonymous said...

Hello katherine

I should also like to thank you for taking the time and making the effort to reply to me in the midst of your work schedule!!


Katharine Moody said...

Hi Rodney,

I'll definitely post something to your questions soon. When I'm writing so much it's so hard to remember where I've written what, what I've posted here and what I haven't, you know?

You're totally right that I use the phrase "emerging church milieu" in a way that presumes readers know what I'm talking about! I'll definitely post something to this as soon as I can.

It's so hard when I'm dealing with these thoughts all the time, when I'm in my own head so much of the time, to fully come all the way out and be clear enough to allow other people to join the conversation/monologue in my head!

In the meantime, have a good weekend, Katharine x