Saturday, April 13, 2013
In 2010, Drury University (Springfield, Missouri) hosted what many of its participants imagined to be the first conference bringing together theologians, philosophers and church practitioners (themselves problematic categories, I know) to explore the relationships between postmodern philosophy, radical theology, and church practice. Many ‘emerging’ and ‘progressive’ Christian events often try to engage with contemporary academic theory but often fail to do so in a sustained or rigorous manner and philosophers of religion, in particular, have been accused of disregarding lived religion in favour of abstract thought (hence my work with this new research network, Philosophy and Religious Practices).
‘Subverting the Norm: The Emerging Church, Postmodernism and the Future of Christianity’ (Oct 15-16 2010) tried to provide space for a genuine dialogue between scholars and church practitioners. Many participants, myself included, felt that this was such an important endeavour that we asked its principal organiser, Phil Snider, to turn this one-off event into a conference series.
Beginning with Twitter conversations in February 2012, Subverting the Norm II (STN2) took shape over the summer, when we identified that an event on the relationship between ‘radical theology’ (or what Jack Caputo calls ‘unabridged postmodernism’) and ‘actually existing churches’ might be the most helpful theme for both practitioners and academics. Over the winter, after a suggestion from Matt Gallion, Phil and I drafted a call for presentations to send out through various academic and church networks, inviting conference contributions (open format) around a set of questions that all asked, in a nutshell, ‘Can Postmodern Theology Live in the Churches?’
In this first post reflecting on STN2 (Apr 5-6 2013) and looking ahead to STN3 (watch this space!!!), I wanted to think about the conference format in relation to our intended aim of bringing philosophers, theologians and church practitioners together.
In other posts, I’ll look at two other questions: diversity and politics (and in further posts I’ll also address other STN2-related things that interest me, like the emerging church).
(Links to other STN2 reflections are being collected by Matt Willis-Goode here).