Monday, April 15, 2013
I thought that posting the programme schedule for the first Subverting the Norm conference (Oct 15-16 2010) might help those at STN2 put the conference in the context of its development from STN1.
On Saturday, I asked how our intended aim of bringing together academics and practitioners had been reflected in the format of both STN1 and STN2, looking ahead to what STN3 might look like in this regard. Yesterday, I wrote about how questions about diversity emerged from STN2. Today’s post will look at the issue of politics, but it will also link back to the two previous posts – in order to continue reflecting on the Subverting the Norm conference series as a whole.
For some reason, it seems that I didn’t post anything on my old blog after returning from STN1 in October 2010. That was probably partly to do with being jetlagged when I came home, but also probably partly to do with a couple of negative experiences at STN1 (most likely made worse on reflection by jetlag!). I already wrote yesterday about how rubbish I felt about my contributions to the roundtable discussion that I took part in. But I also felt patronised by a mature, male PhD student, and had to then be defended by another male PhD student (‘she has got a PhD, you know’).
But in thinking about STN1, I also know that I met some great new people (including Emily Bowen, Matt Gallion, Jeff Robbins, Chris Rodkey, and Phil Snider), finally connected with some people I’d met online (including Adam Moore), and got to spend more time with people I already knew (like Jack Caputo, Chad Lakies, and Pete Rollins). I think that my plenary presentation on Slavoj Zizek’s pneumatology went well. And it was great to see a US example of ‘transformance art’, in the VOID collective’s ‘Revival!’.
Anyway, after searching through piles of notebooks, I found the notes I’d taken from STN1 and Jeff Robbins and Chris Rodkey’s presentation stood out in light of a couple of online conversations about STN2 and the question of politics.
Jeff and Chris’ plenary presentation (and the first presentation of STN1) was entitled, ‘An Emerging Radical Theology: On Politics and Ecclesiology’. (From my notes, I think they were largely referring to both death-of-God theology and deconstructive theology).
In it, Jeff asserted the ‘failure’ of radical theology to influence either wider culture or religious practice. He then stated (and I have this in quotation marks in my notes):
The failure of radical theology is that it has been insufficiently political; there is no radical political theology.
Chris then echoed this by claiming that radical theology has also failed because it is not ecclesiological enough.
Although the theme for STN2 emerged from discussions on Twitter about the relationship between radical theology and ‘confessional theology’ (and Jack’s keynote addressed this a little), as I think about it now, it also feels a little like STN2 took up Chris’ challenge, to explore how radical theology might be ecclesiological, by asking ‘Can postmodern theology live in the churches?’
Perhaps, then, STN3 can take up Jeff’s challenge, to explore how radical theology might be political?