Something Revealed

big-something-revealed-690x616

I recently listened to the first episode of this new podcast called “Something Revealed”. What an absolutely wonderful listening experience, not to mention a stellar production. Click here to listen, or you can also find it on iTunes. Highly, highly recommended.

What is Something Revealed? It’s our new podcast that delves into the everyday topics of art, politics, music, religion and history, with an eye on what they reveal to us about what it means to be a human in the 21st century.

Episode 1 The Raindrop

Listen to how Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude speaks to the fears, yearnings, dreams and intellectual curiosities of a group of students, philosophers, musicians, educators, and to every man and woman!

New Edited Volume: The Resounding Soul

PrintGreetings, dear readers! It’s been a while, but I wanted to inform you that as of this past November (of 2015), my friend Samuel Kimbriel and I have published an edited volume through Wipf & Stock entitled The Resounding Soul: Reflections on the Metaphysics and Vivacity of the Human Person. The essays contained within are the fruit of the conference on “The Soul” that took place in the summer of 2013. The collection has been a labor of love, and we are both really proud of the final product.

Here is the book description:

It is surely not coincidental that the term “soul” should mean not only the center of a creature’s life and consciousness, but also a thing or action characterized by intense vivacity (“that bike’s got soul!”). It also seems far from coincidental that the same contemporary academic discussions that have largely cast aside the language of “soul” in their quest to define the character of human mental life should themselves be so—how to say it?—bloodless, so lacking in soul. This volume arises from the opposite premise, namely that the task of understanding human nature is bound up with and in important respects dependent upon the more critical task of learning to be fully human, of learning to have soul. The papers collected here are derived from a conference in Oxford sponsored by the Centre of Theology and Philosophy and together explore the often surprising landscape that emerges when human consciousness is approached from this angle. Drawing upon literary, philosophical, theological, historical, and musical modes of analysis, the essays of this volume vividly remind the reader of the power of the ancient language of soul over against contemporary impulses to reduce, fragment, and overly determine human selfhood.

We were also blessed to have the following blurbs added to the back of the book:

“According to Aristotle, inquiry into the soul is one of the noblest human tasks. Such an inquiry, however, has all but disappeared: if the soul is not denied altogether, it is rarely thought about. The Resounding Soul helps us recollect this ancient knowledge, and at the same time opens up new avenues of reflection. By inviting us to lift our gaze in this bourgeois and pragmatic age, the editors have rendered a great service.” — D. C. Schindler, author, Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology, The John Paul II Institute

“These exacting essays variously suggest that the apparently problematic category of the soul nonetheless secures the reality of mind without reduction, and without a dualistic contrast to body and matter. Both body and mind live, and it is the living force of the soul which combines them in growth, motion and reflection.” — Catherine Pickstock,  Professor of Metaphysics and Poetics, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge

The best way to secure a copy of this collection is directly from the publisher’s website here.

TheResoundingSoul-Cover-Rembrandt

Pierre Hadot on “Living a Philosophical Life”

Michael Chase: What do the expressions “philosophy” and “living a philosophical life” signify for you?

Pierre Hadot: For me, the word “philosophy” corresponds first of all to an historical phenomenon. It was the Greeks who created the word, probably in the sixth or fifth century BC, and it was Plato who gave it its strongest meaning: philo-sophia, “love of wisdom,” the wisdom which one lacks. Since that time there has been an intellectual, spiritual, and social phenomenon, which has taken on a variety of forms, and which has been called philosophy. From this point of view, it is legitimate to ask whether there exists a “philosophy” outside of the Western tradition, or of the Arabic tradition, insofar as the latter is the inheritor of Greek philosophy.

Now, an historical phenomenon is in constant evolution. Contemporary “philosophy” is obviously very different from the “philosophy” of Socrates and Plato, just as contemporary Christianity is very different from the Evangelistic message. Is this evolution a good thing? Is it an evil? I won’t go into that. I do think, however, that it is always legitimate to go back to the origins, in order better to understand the meaning of a phenomenon, and that is what I try to do.

I have tried to define what philosophy was for a person in antiquity. In my view, the essential characteristic of the phenomenon “philosophy” in antiquity was that at that time a philosopher was, above all, someone who lived in a philosophical way. In other words, the philosopher was someone whose life was guided by his or her reason, and who was a practitioner of the moral virtues. This is obvious, for example, from the portrait Alcibiades gives of Socrates at the end of Plato’s Symposium. We can also observe it in Xenophon, where Hippias asks Socrates for a definition of justice. Socrates replies: “Instead of talking about it, I make it appear through my actions.” Originally, then, philosophy is above all the choice of a form of life, to which philosophical discourse then gives justifications and theoretical foundations. Philosophical discourse is not the same thing as philosophy: the Stoics said so explicitly, and the other schools admitted it implicitly. True, there can be no philosophy without some discourse—either inner or outward—on the part of the philosopher. This can take the form of pedagogical activity carried out on others, of inner meditation, or of the discursive explanation of intuitive contemplation. But this discourse is not the essential part of philosophy, and it will have value only if it has a relationship with philosophical life. As an Epicurean sentence puts it: “The discourse of philosophers is in vain, unless it heals some passion of the soul.”

“Postscript: An Interview with Pierre Hadot,” in Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. Michael Chase, ed. Arnold I. Davidson (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1995), 281-82.

Owen Barfield’s Poetry

At the end of June, I had the honour of co-organizing, attending, and presenting at this year’s Centre of Theology and Philosophy conference on The Soul. We had an amazing list of keynote presenters (including Marilynne Robinson) amongst a large number of extremely high-quality papers by other academics, both from students and professionals. Of the many highlights of the event, the grandson of Inkling Owen Barfield, Owen A. Barfield,Jr. was able to attend for one of the conference days. He brought a large number of his grandfather’s works, selling them at a heavily discounted price. It was a treat to be able to meet a person who could share a part of this literary, philosophy, and theological history.

I recently received an e-mail from the official Owen Barfield Literary Estate regarding the release of some previously unpublished poems of Barfield. “Air Castles” is particularly fun, but this one entitled “An Autumn Bicycle-Ride” caught my eye as particularly seasonally appropriate:

The leaves, grown rusty overhead,
Dropped on the road and made it red.
The air that coldly wrapped me round,
Stained by the glowing of the ground,
Had bathed the world in the cosy gloom
Of a great, red-carpeted, firelit room;
It filled my lungs, as I rode along,
Till they overflowed in a flood of song,
And joy grew truculent in my throat,
Uttering a pompous trombone-note;
For this elegant modern soul of mine
Was warm with old Autumn’s rich red wine.

More can be found here.

I was able to snap a picture of Owen A. Barfield (on the right) along with my great friend and colleague, Michael DiFuccia, who recently submitted his PhD thesis on the work of Owen Barfield (the Inkling).

IMG_6190_cropped

It was an honour to meet him and exciting to see him promoting the continued publication of his grandfather’s work.

PhD Proposal Writing Advice (unsolicited)

A friend and former (younger) colleague of mine recently asked me for some advice on writing a PhD proposal. I thought it might prove helpful to share my response. Keep in mind that what is written here may not exactly apply to the application process in the United States, but it may still be generically applicable in that case (I’m from California but completed my PhD at the University of Nottingham in England). I welcome any other suggestions or advice that I may have missed in the comments section, as I tend to get such requests from friends and prospective PhD students fairly often.


First, be absolutely serious about your topic, but also keep in the back of your mind that your project may change slightly, if not significantly throughout the course of your research. So, don’t feel like you have to put everything into your proposal, as it is, after all, a proposal for what you still have to find out.

Second, and directly related, because it is a research proposal, don’t give all the answers to your suggested path; rather, combine your past expertise with your suggested line of work in such a way that you’re forming a highly intriguing question. Otherwise, worst case scenario, a person reading your proposal would think to themself, “Oh, they’re done then.”

Thirdly, to show that you know the field decently well, do a little bit of show-offy name dropping with the figures you’re interested in, but don’t go overboard and regale them with your knowledge of everything (save that for the thesis). Especially if your project is more of a topical one as opposed to a figure study, and even if it is a figure study, you’re still asking an interesting question about that figure instead of the predetermined answer of “Thomas Aquinas is the Best” or whomever.

Fourthly, because the research is open-ended, and you are asking a certain set of specific questions for now, be sure to say how you will plan to publish it by expanding upon the question in such a such a way. Also, and extremely important for your sanity (we all had to do this), thinking about how you will expand the project later will helpfully limit the scope of your project for now. We all have anxiety about not having read everything and so when we start reading enough to know how much we still have yet to go, there’s a temptation to go overboard and just read read read until we think we’ve read everything on the topic, which will be entirely unhelpful, and most likely impossible (unless you’re doing a narrow figure study on a lesser-known figure). The more you can focus your project now, the better.

Lastly, if you haven’t already, learn a language or two. Because the UK system doesn’t require you to take courses, let alone language courses, it’s actually possible to get away with not learning another language (about zero likely if you’re a biblical studies person, but it may be possible in theology/philosophy, sadly). You’ll probably already know the field of your topic or figure really well, and therefore you’ll know if you need to learn French or German or Greek or, perhaps there’s been an upsurge of academic interest in your topic in the Spanish academia, etc. Pick up one of the relevant books plus a dictionary, like French for Reading or German for Reading Knowledge.* If you can afford it, I’d also strongly recommend doing a language submersion course. It’s a lot of time, but it really helps you pick up the mechanics of grammar quickly.

Another language-learning option is that if you need to learn Greek or Latin, ask the Classics department if you can take one of their classes (this may work for other languages as well). Just e-mail their department and tell them you will do all the work and be there every day (you should really do all the homework, and while you’re not required to take the tests, obviously, that kind of preparation will actually help you remember and focus). The University of Nottingham’s Classics department allowed me and at least three other colleagues of mine go this route, and they were happy to have us. Once you start learning a language, if you can devote an hour or two in the morning before you get to the rest of your research, that will help keep it fresh, because otherwise, you can really lose it and get rusty.

* Note: these books can tend to be expensive, so in the case of German for Reading Knowledge, I would recommend not purchasing the latest, very expensive edition from 2013, but looking on Amazon.com for the cheaper, previous addition.

Histories of Philosophy

A friend recently asked me to provide a reading list of books that contain surveys of philosophy. Below is the list that gave him. Now, I understand these are all, to some degree, narrative accounts from many different perspectives including both ancient, medieval, modern, and post-modern trajectories.

  • Louis Dupré, Passage to Modernity
  • Michael Allen Gillespie, Nihilism before Nietzsche
  • Michael Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity
  • Adrian Pabst, Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy
  • Charles Taylor, The Sources of the Self
  • Charles Taylor, A Secular Age
  • Conor Cunningham, Genelogy of Nihilism: Philosophies of Nothing and the Difference of Theology
  • Philipp W. Rosemann,  Omne Agens Agit Sibi Simile: A “Repetition” of Scholastic Metaphysics
  • Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy?
  • Dominique Janicaud (ed.), Phenomenology and the “theological Turn”: The French Debate
  • Philip Goodchild (ed.), Rethinking Philosophy of Religion: Approaches from Continental Philosophy
  • Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750
  • Gillian Rose, Dialectic of Nihilism
  • John Mullarkey, Post-Continental Philosophy: An Outline

What would you add to this list?

Long-overdue Update

IMG_3565

It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve blogged, or had the time or inclination to do so. Much has transpired since I last wrote.

I changed my PhD thesis topic quite drastically from a figure study on Socrates, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard to a topical thesis on personhood, analogy, and dialogue. This doesn’t mean I’ve ‘parted ways’ with Kierkegaard by any means; rather, I’ve just moved away from being primarily a ‘Kierkegaard guy’. At crucial points in my thesis, he remained a constant traveler.

I submitted my thesis on September 28th 2012, successfully defended it on January 18th, 2013, and graduated on July 9th, 2013. My project was well-received as rather ‘ambitious’ by my thesis examiners, and they’ve both encouraged me to publish the project, which I plan to do. I thoroughly enjoyed the research and writing, as trying and as challenging as it was, and I look forward to continuing to refine the work for publication within the next year.

My wife and I have also relocated from Nottingham, England to Sacramento, California. We’re living in the West Sacramento area with my in-laws where I am doing the occasional job here and there to make ends meet in addition to working on the job search and maintaining various academic duties.

As far as this blog is concerned, I am still giving thought to what shape it will take regarding its content. It will still primarily be a place to throw out quotations and brief thoughts on theology and philosophy, but there are other particulars in my head to work out. In the meantime, stay tuned!

 

Conference: Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self

I would love to go to this conference, but no more conferences for me until my PhD is finished. It sounds pretty exciting. Patrick Stokes, the conference organizer, has a book entitled Kierkegaard’s Mirrors: Interest, Self, and Moral Vision (US | UK) which is an excellent and fun read (I have a forthcoming review of it in The Heythrop Journal where I give it more specific praises).

—–
Call for Papers Reminder (deadline for proposals is next Friday, 5th August):

Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self
University of Hertfordshire, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November 2011

Narrative accounts of selfhood have been a major, if heavily contested, feature of personal identity theory in the last quarter-century, driven by the work of thinkers as diverse as MacIntyre, Ricoeur, Schechtman, Dennett and Velleman. In the last decade, it has further been claimed that Kierkegaard (despite MacIntyre’s controversial reading of him inAfter Virtue) also holds a narrativist conception of the self – and that his work holds valuable resources for getting to grips with the normative dimensions of narrative identity. However, Kierkegaard’s work also brings some of the serious questions about narrative identity into stark focus:

  • What makes the attainment of narrative identity normative?
  • Do selves exist prior to their narration?
  • How can the narrative self be something we both are and are ethically enjoined to become?
  • How can we understand our lives as a narrative when the ending of our
  • story – our death – is necessarily unknown to us?
  • Are metaphysically realist or anti-realist versions of the narrative selfhood hypothesis more tenable – and what of the claim that practical and metaphysical identity cannot be separated at all?
  • Are narrative conceptions of self consistent with any strong form of free will?

This conference, organised under the auspices of the EU-funded FP7 project ‘Selves in Time’

(www.patrickstokes.com/selvesintime.html), aims to address some of these problems both within Kierkegaard Studies and within the broader debate on narrative selfhood. Confirmed speakers are:

  • Kathy Behrendt (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • John J. Davenport (Fordham University)
  • John Lippitt (University of Hertfordshire)
  • George Pattison (University of Oxford)
  • Anthony Rudd (St Olaf College)
  • Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Patrick Stokes (University of Hertfordshire)

We welcome proposals for papers (40 minutes reading length maximum) addressing the conference theme. Papers on narrative and selfhood that do not deal directly with Kierkegaard will also be considered. Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words to p.stokes2@herts.ac.uk by Friday 5th August.

Where Heaven and Earth Meet

“However, it is not the case that in any genus—even [the genus] of motion—we come to an unqualifiedly maximum and minimum. Hence, if we consider the various movements of the spheres, [we will see that] it is not possible for the world-machine to have, as a fixed and immovable centre, either our perceptible earth or air or fire or any other thing.

“Hence, the world does not have a [fixed] circumference. For if it had a fixed center, it would also have a [fixed] circumference; and hence it would have its own beginning and end within itself, and it would be bounded in relation to something else, and beyond the world there would be something else and space (locus). But all these [consequences] are false. Therefore, since it is not possible for the world to be enclosed between [a physical] center and a physical circumference, the world—of which God is the centre and the circumference—is not understood. And although the world is not infinite, it cannot be conceived as finite, because it lacks boundaries within which it is enclosed” (Nicholas of Cusa, On Learned Ignorance, trans. Jasper Hopkins [Minneapolis: Banning, 1981], II.11; p. 114).

Karsten Harries associates this quotation with the Camille Flammarion woodcut (pictured above) in her Infinity and Perspective (pp. 46-8). The caption on the woodcut reads Un missionaire du moyen age raconte qu’il avait trouvé le “point où le ciel et la Terre se touchent”. Nothing more to add just now, but I really dig this.

Parasitical Reasoning

“There are Christian theisms which are parasitical upon forms of atheism, for they formulate a doctrine of God primarily in response to a certain kind of grounds for atheistic denial. It is a case worth considering that much eighteenth-century theodicy has this parasitical character, being a theism designed to respond primarily to the threat to it posed by the particular formulation of the problem of evil which prevailed in that century. In our time, the ill-named ‘creationists’ seem to offer but a craven reaction, trapped as they are into having to deny the very possibility of an evolutionary world, simply because they mistakenly suppose an evolutionary world could only be occupied by atheists. Thereby they play the atheist’s game, on the undemanding condition that they play on the losing team.” [Denys Turner, ‘Apophaticism, Idolatry, and the Claims of Reason’, in Oliver Davies and Denys Turner (eds.), Silence and the Word : Negative Theology and Incarnation (Cambridge: CUP, 2002), p. 15]

Furthermore, it is the evolutionary atheists who argue that evolution not only disproves God, but evolution is itself inherently atheistic. There are, of course so many problems with this claim (e.g. Darwin didn’t lose his faith because of his belief in evolution, but because of the suffering and death of his daughter, not to mention the fact that millions of Christians around the world have no problem with evolution, although ‘evolution’ would of course have to be unpacked a bit). But the real kicker here is that these Creationist Christians 1) don’t bother to learn the science, but 2) more damningly, actually accept these claims of the evolutionary atheists as if they were true. Really? Who says that evolution has to be atheistic?

After my PhD supervisor’s BBC documentary ‘Did Darwin Kill God?’ came out last year (March 2009), my wife and I went home for a visit and I showed the documentary to my family. We had a very fruitful discussion afterwards. Something that came up in the discussion was that one of my relatives said, ‘But it’s the atheists who say that evolution disproves God.’ Aside from many pages written to the contrary that break apart these unhelpful and false binaries, basically, these claims are by scientists who are looking at the science and bringing their pre-conceived cosmological claims to the table and then saying, ‘see, evolution means God doesn’t exist.’ It could easily be claimed that the Christian who comes to the science lab and is fine with evolution does the same thing, but the difference here I would argue is that the Christian at least has some inkling and basic understanding that belief is a part of one’s basic reasoning about things (cf. Michael Polanyi); whereas the atheists who usually make such claims (Dawkins, Dennet, the Churchlands, et al.) deny belief altogether, and so can’t even ultimately believe in their own belief in atheistic evolution.

I told my relative that scientists who say such things one way or the other are being bad scientists. At that point, they’re making theological, philosophical, and cosmological claims that are not an inherent part of their scientific method, as the questions of science bracket out such claims (cf. Heidegger’s analysis of science in ‘What is Metaphysics?’: ‘science says nothing about the nothing’). Theology and philosophy can theologize and philosophize about science, but when science does the same it is no longer ‘strictly’ science but should admit that it is now making such philosophical, theological, or cosmological claims. In other words, the category error here is not realizing that the relationship between these areas (although admittedly this is all a bit porous) is an asymmetrical one.

Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses

Oxford’s Christ Church College, where the Kierkegaard Upbuilding Discourses Conference was held.

Two and a half weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the ‘Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses’ Conference in Oxford at Christ Church College. I’m a bit behind on posting this, but today is Søren Kierkegaard’s 197th birthday so I thought I should at least owe that to him. Sadly, the volcanic ash cloud prevented a quarter of the European/Danish Kierkegaard scholars from attending and presenting. At the last minute, conference organizers George Pattison and Matthew Kirkpatrick had to revamp the entire conference schedule to account for the disruption of the absence of a significant portion of the conference delegates.

Notwithstanding, the event itself was incredibly fun and very lively. I had the honour of meeting and interacting with some of my favourite Kierkegaard scholars, including Joel Rasmussen, John Lippitt, Clare Carlisle, and George Pattison — as well as meeting a crew of up-and-coming very passionate Kierkegaardian scholars in their own right.

George Pattison

George Pattison is one of the only scholars in the English-speaking world to write extensively on the whole of the Upbuilding Discourses (aside from say Amy Laura Hall, C. Stephen Evans, and M. Jamie Ferreira who have written specifically on the Works of  Love which Pattison places within the ‘Discourse’ Literature), and acted as the guiding voice of the conference, helpfully providing insight into just about any specific point of Kierkegaard’s writings, especially issues of translation. Pattison is in the process of translating a selection of the discourses himself, continuing in the recent tradition of M. G. Piety and Alistair Hannay (e.g., SUD, FT, and CUP) of providing new translations which correct and build upon the Hong translations with which we are already so familiar. Of all the helpful points that Pattison offered, one of the suggestions that struck me was that Kierkegaard is nearly always over-looked in 20th-century discussions of ‘the gift’. All of these writers know the pseudonymous Kierkegaard, but by overlooking his discourse literature, they have missed three discourses on gift, which are all named around James 1:17Open Link in New Window: ‘Every Good and Every Perfect Gift Comes From Above’.

Christ Church College Dining Hall, which provided the inspiration for the Hogwart’s Dining Hall in the Harry Potter films

My paper was entitled ” ‘Practising Life in Death’: Equality, Stillness, and Earnestness in Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses.” The theme for the conference was the Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses and the Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions, so my paper focussed primarily on those two texts, but brought in the work of Eastern Orthodox theologian John Behr at the end. (e-mail me or post a comment if you’d like a copy of my paper.) I had a couple of good questions, one from Steven Shakespeare who simply asked if my inclusion of John Behr was something inherent in the ‘At a Graveside’ text in the Three Discourses. The short answer is that the Christological element was my own ‘leap’, my own creative addition onto the text where I think Kierkegaard very well could have gone, especially considering that the discourses are within the ‘direct communication’ of Kierkegaard’s authorship (not to mention the fact that the previous paper delivered by Paul Martens on a couple occasions raised the very point that Kierkegaard seems vague as to where he’s actually going in this discourse). All this suggests I should have just made that blatant in my introduction.

On the final night of the conference, Dr Hugh Pyper made a presentation about a certain old text he had rebound. He shared an e-mail from the bookbinder (is he an ‘hilarious’ one?) about what all went into the rebinding of this text. The text Hugh had rebound was a first edition of Søren Kierkegaard’s Atten Opbyggelige Taler, or Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. It was a pretty incredible text to behold. Pictures are below.

Hugh Pyper, owner of the 1st edition of Kierkegaard’s Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses

Four Kierkegaard scholars examining the text, from left to right: John Lippitt, Claire Carlisle, Jolita Pons, and George Pattison

Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses title page with owner’s signature. But who is it?

On the title page is written what looks like “P. Kierk.” Hugh thought for a while that this may have been one “P. Kierkegaard”, that is, Peter Christian Kierkegaard, Søren’s brother, which would explain why the text was in fairly good condition (Peter Christian was known to not read the books on his shelves). After consulting with Arne Grøn, however, Grøn suggested that the signature is actually written in a gothic script. If that is the case, then the signature is actually “P. Keck.”, which means we have no idea who that is.

Next year will be the second of three conference on Kierekgaard’s Upbuilding Discourses, this time focused on Works of Love and Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits. It is scheduled for 29th April – 1st of May and will be held at the University of Sheffield. I’m looking forward to another lively conference, although hopefully with some of the Danish Kierkegaard scholars we missed this time around.

Lastly, George Pattison will be posting the conference papers on the Oxford University Research Archive (see, e.g., these papers from a Heidegger and Religion conference) for the benefit of those Danish and other European scholars who could not make it. Obviously that means that anybody with an internet connection can benefit as well. As soon as George Pattison sends out that link, I’ll be posting it here.

Schedule updated

It’s been a few weeks now, but the full schedule for the Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination conference is now online.

On Praying with the Victims in Haiti

Please read: “‘With Sighs Too Deep for Words’: On Praying with the Victims in Haiti”, by Nate Kerr

New CoTP site: redesign & functionality

It’s been a while in the making, but I’ve finally launched the new redesign for the Centre of Theology and Philosophy.  It’s now on WordPress (instead of some weird hybrid of Movable Type like it was before), and I’ve added some new functionality here and there.  There’s a new post with details, and if you had previously subscribed to the site’s RSS feed, that has now been moved to this URL.

The publications page probably took me the longest to make, as I’ve integrated a lot of fun MooTools stuff.  Basically there are now almost 200 publications in the system–previously it was woefully out of date–and there are different ways to browse (full details with link to Google Books preview if available, or covers only), and it’s just kind of snazzy.  I think so, anyway!

Conference: Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination

nuturing_prophetic_imagination

Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination

March 24-27, 2010

Point Loma Nazarene University

Co-sponsored by the PLNU Wesleyan Center, Center for Justice and Reconciliation, Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, Center for Pastoral Leadership, and Center for Women’s Studies.

Call For Papers (Deadline Nov. Dec 15)

Plenary speakers:

Bill McKibben: Christian environmental activist, scholar in residence at Middlebury College, and author of Deep Economy, The End of Nature, Hope: Human & Wild, and The Age of Missing Information

Kathleen Norris: Poet and essayist, and author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Michael Eric Dyson: Professor Georgetown University, author of Can You Hear Me Now?, Come Hell or Highwater: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Holler if You Hear Me

Emmanuel Katongole: Theologian and priest, associate professor of theology and world Christianity and co-director of the Center of Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, and author of A Future for Africa, Beyond Universal Reason

Special Guests:

Guest Emcee: We are excited to have Dr. Ron Benefiel join us as our emcee!  Dr. Benefiel is the president for Nazarene Theological Seminary (Kansas City, MO). Trained as a sociologist, he is also an ordained minister who has pastored churches in a variety of urban settings. He is author of A Theology of Place: Ministry in Transitional Communities (1996).

Special Event: Dr. William T. Cavanaugh is a professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He is author of Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (1998), Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (2008), and The Myth of Religious Violence (2009). A special conference session will be dedicated to reviewing his most recent book. [Note: This is just a discussion of the book itself. As far as I know, I do not think Cavanaugh will be there. Cavanaugh will in fact be there. See Edie Chapman’s comment below. ]

Download the Conference Schedule (PDF)

When many Christians consider the prophetic imagination, they think of attempts to decipher how the world will end or religiously based movements for social and political change. The biblical understanding of prophecy, particularly as embodied in Jesus and such prophets as Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah, while including both a hope for the future and a critique of the present social and economic situation, also seeks to free believers in Christ to witness to the future of God creatively in the present. The prophetic imagination is, in the light of the gift of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, a challenge for Christians to question the assumptions, beliefs, and practices that the church often takes for granted. It calls believers in Christ to reflect deeply on the ways that the church has accommodated itself to and allowed itself to be defined by the dominant culture and thereby has been a party to economic and social systems of sin, oppression, and injustice. The prophetic imagination provides a challenge to the church to renew its criticism of the dominant culture and envision a new and vibrant way of being in but not of the world.

This conference will explore various dimensions of the prophetic imagination, especially around the three key movements or stages of encounter with the prophetic imagination: 1) dissatisfaction with and critique of dominant culture; 2) taking responsibility for and learning to lament the extent to which we have been complicit with the sinful and destructive forces of the dominant culture; 3) creatively and hopefully envisaging new modes of being the church in the world and new ways of embodying God’s will for the world.

Call For Papers (Deadline Nov. Dec. 15th)

More info here.

Bibledex

In a similar vein to the University of Nottingham’s Period Table of Videos (be sure to check out the Potassium one!), Brady Haran, in conjunction with our Department of Theology and Religious Studies, is now producing a series on the Bible dubbed Bibledex.  There will be books on all 66 books of the Bible, and as the website states, they “are by no means comprehensive – rather they’re a curious assortment of academic insights into what is probably the most famous collection of books in history.” Each video consists of different insights from the different perspectives offered from the staff and postgraduates in our department (me mates!).  The first three videos are now up, on Genesis, the Song of Songs, and 1 Corinthians.

Call For Papers: Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses

This was forwarded to our department:

CALL FOR PAPERS
KIERKEGAARD’S UPBUILDING DISCOURSES

Oxford Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought
International Conference
16–18 April, 2010

The Oxford Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought, in connection with the Søren Kierkegaard Society of the UK, is pleased to announce an international conference focusing on Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses. While often overlooked, the Upbuilding Discourses provide a rich ground for understanding Kierkegaard’s wider work, as well as his own identity. Furthermore, the Discourses offer a valuable contribution to a more general discussion of such issues as sin, love,  suffering, salvation, and personal identity.

This will be the first of three conferences on Kierkegaard’s Discourses, and will focus on the Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses of 1843-4, and the Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions. Further conferences will consider the discourses of 1847 (Århus, 2010), and Kierkegaard’s final discourses (Copenhagen, 2011).

Alongside the main speakers, there is the opportunity for the presentation of shorter papers of between 20-30 minutes. Abstracts of 300-500 words are invited on a wide range of themes related to the conference topic.

To submit an abstract or for further information, please contact Dr Matthew Kirkpatrick at – kierkegaard.conference@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is 1st March, 2010.

For further details about the conference, including accommodation, fees, and registration, please visit www.kierkegaard.org.uk.

Speakers include:

Christopher Barnett
Iben Damgaard
Arne Grøn
Helle Møller Jensen
George Pattison
Jolita Pons
David Possen
Hugh Pyper
Joel Rasmussen
Steven Shakespeare
Claudia Welz

Helpfully, the Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions was also one of the volumes recently published in paperback.

Lastly, here’s the CFP poster if you’d like to download it: Kierkegaard Conference – Call for Papers.

On the prices of books

Sadly, after doing some clicking back and forth on my earlier post on all the paperback Kierkegaard books coming out (are now out now, by the way), I’ve noticed that in just about every case, all of the prices went up by a few dollars/pounds.  I suppose this isn’t much of a surprise as pre-order prices tend to be cheaper.

In other news, SCM Press has a pretty decent sale on some books of interest, ending on 30 Sept. 2009:

Kierkegaard & Pitying the Fool

Whenever I do Kierkegaard posts, I, like many people, do a Google image search to visually spice up the posts.  The recent post is a caricature of Kierkegaard from the Corsair, I believe.  This one is also classic.  But I think  this illustration, by John Peterson, from this book, probably takes the cake as one of my recent favourites.