Saturday, April 01, 2006

Theology in the Christian University

Back from the conference and recovering from the drive to Texas, I'm finally getting around to updating my blog. I really have to find some way to do this on a more regular basis. Anyway, the conference was good--a first for Abilene Christian University's grad school, but well handled by point man Fred Aquino. From all I heard there, he's doing a great job of promoting conversations across confessions. My paper featured a call for collaboration and community as a theological approach to academia, particularly through the affordances of social software. Interestingly, that theme was an undercurrent in several of the breakout sessions and keynotes. I picked up some important ideas to be added to my paper, and I will soon post a link to it on my pbwiki so I can get some more feedback. It's cool to see people across the institution doing theology in practical ways. (In that regard, I just listened to a podcast interview with Miroslav Volf re: his theological method, and I think I've found my home!)
I shared a presentation slot with the library folks, and it was very encouraging to see them applying the NT concept of hospitality (in the sense of welcoming strangers and sending on itinerant teachers) to their work with students. In practical terms, that's meant making the reference desk a welcoming, working-together kind of space instead of the imposing gatekeeper fortress it is in many libraries. Also, to encourage conversation in a "Learning Commons," they've added a coffee bar to the library. Imagine--no more "Shush" and "You can't bring that in here!"
Another presenter explored the theological issues around an exploration of the blues--the kind of music we'd never hear in church but has to be taken into account in an understanding of the human condition, including our own.
A shared presentation on the place of formation in the Christian university, from the perspective of Orthodoxy and through the lens of Clement of Alexandria's metaphor of "statues of the Lord," had some very rich content for me to process, particularly Clement's description of "educated Christians" (David Kneip's "translation" of C's "gnostics") as "forming and creating themselves" as "assistant sculptors." Sounds like constructivism to me. :)
More on the keynote speakers later: Stan Hauerwas, William Abraham, Ellen Charry, Darryl Tippens.

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