Saturday, April 01, 2006


Hauerwas was his usual irrascible, boundary-pushing self. He set the tone with his "Theological Knowledge and the Knowledges of the University."
Billy Abraham, in his "Theology in the University in a Hobbesian World," helped me see where my overly optimistic views need a corrective. He notes that higher ed in North America operates on a 2-track system where scholars either dismiss revelation claims & study them phenomenologically or allow those claims but confine them to confessional contexts. His position is that we just need to accept this and "get on with it"; his advice is to do your best work and expect opposition and derision. On the other hand, he says theology needs to regain its proper place in the university; because "divine revleation is a threshold concept," we need to "pursue everything in the light of its resources--and we don't know all that that involves until we get there." He appealed to John Webster's appeal that we "develop a theological theology." His prescription for theologians if we are to avoid a pedestrian "nice" (my word) naivete: 1. boldness and a recovery of nerve, 2. depth and epistemological self-awareness, 3. imagination and creativity. He quoted Sarah Coakley on cultivating the intellectual and spiritual virtues that transcend polarization, from an article in Christian Higher Learning, a journal that I haven't been able to find. Apparently, it's a Routledge publication, but there's nothing about it on their site.
Ellen Charry spoke of scientia leading to sapientia through love & empathy. I wish she had had time for what she wanted to say about empathy (an interest of mine, as is obvious from earlier posts here), but her focus on the connection between pedagogy and formation (teachers as shepherds) was very helpful. She maintains that Foucault's "power" framework is apt only in the absence of such formation and a focus on the awareness of the knower.
Darryl Tippens (provost of Pepperdine) tied the conference themes together with an application to Church of Christ higher ed institutions, emphasizing that a "vibrant articulation of Christian vision" ("telling the best story") is the most impportant characteristic needed in a Christian university. He also recommends a focus on research scholarship, a community rich in memory, a radical hospitality, a heart-centered ethos (in the Biblical sense), a sacramental welcoming of mystery, wisdom and discernment that includes modelling & building community, practical service, and the spiritual development of faculty.
All in all, very good stuff, and a good push on my way to getting down to business on my research project!

No comments: