AAR meeting

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.

4 Responses to “AAR meeting”

  1. Veritas Says:

    Hello, Peter.

    I agree with your disdain.

    Most of those lectures — save the last one — do not sound like much I would be interested in either.

    Lately I’ve become enamoured with evolutionary biology, and its relation to theology. You might say, I have little tolerance for the Creationsits. Have you ever read John Haught of Georgetown, or Kenneth Miller of Brown? Very good reads, if I could offer a recommendation.

    -Veritas

  2. bekkos Says:

    I’m afraid I haven’t read these authors. But one book I’ve been reading recently, which I very much recommend, is The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction, by Michael Benton. It doesn’t address the theological issues, but as a brief introduction to palaeontology and earth history, it is excellent.

  3. Veritas Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Peter. Benton’s work really does seem like a book I would like to read.

    I’m also currently reading through Neil Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body.” Another excellent read.

  4. Edwin Tait Says:

    AAR is so huge that there’s always good stuff to go to. The Orthodox sessions are often among the best–precisely, I suspect, for the reason you give for “marginalization”–Orthodox scholars aren’t as concerned to be trendy!

    But I haven’t been myself since AAR and SBL split. This year I’m presenting papers at two other conferences (Sixteenth Century Studies and the Conference for Faith and History), so I certainly can’t justify a third trip!


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