June 15, 2010
Today I received in the mail an invitation from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) to attend their meeting this autumn in Atlanta, Georgia. A number of people have advised me to attend such meetings, as they are evidently an important resource for finding academic employment. But I have not gone, and, when I look at this year’s meeting’s list of offerings, I am reminded why I do not go. Very little of it has anything to do with traditional Christian theology or practice, and much of it strikes me as positively blasphemous.
A small sampling:
A Chants Encounter: Pagan Gospel/Jam Session.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Caucus.
Contemporary Pagan Studies Group.
Gay Men and Religion Group.
Religion and Sexuality Consultation.
Lesbian-Feminist Issues and Religion Group.
The Brain on Ritual: The Embodied Logic of Tantric Deity Worship.
Watching Avatar through the Deleuzian 3Ds, Desire, Deterritorialization, and Doubling: A Postcolonial Ecotheological Review.
Transhumanism as a Theological Process.
Ask Not What Buddhism Can Do for Cognitive Science; Ask What Cognitive Science Can Do for Buddhism.
The Great God of the Five Paths: A Blood-sacrifice Pagan Cult During the Reign of Emperor Wu of Liang, or a Religious Propagandist Story Fabricated by the Song Buddhist Vegetarian Reformists?
Dealing with Ecological Despair (these last two might actually be worth going to).
There are a few lectures and conferences that sound interesting. Scott Kenworthy, from Miami University in Ohio, plans to lecture on the subject “The Marginalization of Eastern Orthodoxy in the Study of World Christianity.” (Perhaps Eastern Orthodoxy is marginalized in the study of World Christianity because it affords little opportunity for scholars to make a living writing about gender issues; that is, it remains faithful to traditional Christian moral teaching.) Kathleen Gibbons, from the University of Toronto, is lecturing on “Hierarchy before Henadology in Origen of Alexandria.” There is to be a session, chaired by Aristotle Papanikolaou of Fordham University, devoted to the theme “Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann: All Aspects of His Legacy.” Annemie Dillen, Joris Deldhof, and Annemie Patyn, of the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, give a presentation titled, “How Can the Catholic Character of a University be Maintained when Its Christian Identity is Fading?” — that seems to me a very good question. And there is a Middle Eastern Christianity Consultation, which, if I do go to this meeting, I’ll probably attend. But, all in all, I think I’ll probably avoid this circus.