After The Birth of God with LeRon Shults

FLSLeRon Shults is back on the podcast – partly to respond for some of the controversy he stirred up the last time he was on with Barry Taylor in Tripp’s very busy garage.

Talking about his unique evolutionary take on the development of religion and atheisms …

The other reason that he is back is to promote an explosive new venture by Syndicate 412mDtu6eQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Theology

Go check out  syndicatetheology.com for upcoming symposiums!!

We have live events coming up in May:

Summer School High Gravity “Living Options in Christian Theology” 

F. LeRon Shults is professor of theology and philosophy at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway and the author or editor of twelve other books, including his recent Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism (2014). Shults is also a senior research fellow at the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion in Boston, USA.

God Is Unconscious with Tad DeLay

IMG_1029Did you know that God is Unconscious?

I didn’t until Tad Delay told me. Here’s the thing, it is superWIPFSTOCK_Template sexy for nerds to talk about psychoanalysis, Freud and Lacan. Clearly Zizek can use them to write really sweet movie reviews but if you were wondering just what happens when psychoanalysis and theology hang out you need to read this book!

Tad has written an accessible that my its end will have you thinking thoughts you had no idea how to think before you IMG_1031started.

Tad is a friend of the show and fellow PhD candidate at Claremont. His book is so good and the ideas so deep that just one interviewer was not enough – we had to get three! Tripp, Barry Taylor and Pete Rollins (who wrote the forward to Tad’s book) sit down to chat with him.

You will also notice the sweet cover illustration by our Elder of Graphical Sweetness – Jesse Turri.

Genealogy of Liberal Theology from PYM

Scott Paeth and Douglas Ottati tackle the lightning round at Progressive Youth Ministry with a whirlwind tour of the history of liberal theology. PYMtntPart2

You can hear part 1 of the live show from that evening featuring Amy Butler and John Vest here.

Both Paeth and Ottati have been on HBC multiple times. Here are a couple of links for each of them.

Paeth’s first visit.  BONUS-cast.     2014 PYMC.

Ottati’s first visit (Christology).  Why write a liberal theology?

PhillipsTheologicalSeminary_bioWe want to thank Phillips Theological Seminary for their awesome sponsorship of this evening and their ongoing partnership. Please check out their new ministry degrees … including the Masters in Theological Studies and Doctor of Ministry!

Bonnie Miller-McLemore on Practical Theology

BMMBonnie Miller-McLemore chats with Callid and Bo to help introduce the upcoming Practical Theology Project. PTP

The Practical Theology Project will debut later this Summer and will pair voices and perspectives in side-by-side clips responding to the same basic questions.

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion of Vanderbilt University. Her research in religion, psychology, and culture, pastoral and practical theology, and women and childhood studies focuses on understanding the person and lived theology in the midst of everyday realities.

Her works include The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology ; Christian Theology in Practice: Discovering a Discipline ;  In the Midst of Chaos: Caring for Children as Spiritual Practice.

Make sure to check out the Practical Theology Project on Facebook for upcoming developments.

Ahead of Earth Day 2015

Tomorrow is Earth Day and I wanted to share 2 things: a quote and links to the HomeGrown series of podcasts. HomegrownLogo_green_rev1

Reading ‘Theology At The End Of Modernity’ – our text for the upcoming Summer School High Gravity class – chapter 1 Sallie McFague says:

We have the powers of destruction no other species has ever had, as our deteriorating ecosystem clearly illustrates. The ongoing history of our planet will necessarily involve our partnership and our participation for its well-being. This does not mean assuming an attitude of control toward the planet, hoping we come up with a quick technological fix. Responsible partnership means adjusting to the rules and rhythms of the earth, adapting to its reality …

Our loyalty must move beyond family, nation, and even our own species to identify, in the broadest possible horizon, with all life: we are citizens of planet Earth.

 

Last year we did a series called HomeGrown Christianity and got 4 parts into a planned 8. This Summer we will publish the next 4 in preparation for the Pando Pupulus conference ‘An Alternative Vision’.

Here are the 4 episodes for your listening pleasure:

1 – Leah Kostomo – on being planted

2- Matthew Sleeth – on the Gospel according to the Earth

3- Jen Butler – about On Earth As In Heaven

4 – Randy Woodley – on Shalom and the Community of Creation

1984 Theology

I am admittedly a child of the 80’s. I grew up in Cold-War paranoia and still find it difficult to understand how it has been 30 years since the Chicago Bears shuffled to a Super Bowl win under Coach Ditka.SBS

I love reading books from the 80’s once in a while. There is something fascinating to me about how much the world has changed even in my lifetime! I used to love listening to my grandparents talk about all of the things they had seen since they were little. I soaked up stories about installing indoor plumbing, the purchase of a first TV, and life from the great depression to WWII.

Growing up in Chicago impacted me religiously. We still had the influence of the Jesus People evident, it was in the bookstore at Trinity Evangelical School of Divinity that found the Late Great Planet Earth is a used-book section, and we lived just down the road from Willow Creek – the home of the Seeker-Sensitive Church movement. It is little wonder I turned out to be a counter-cultural, semi-apocalyptic evangelist/apologist.

 I sorta miss being able to think that the book of Revelation was a road-map to the end – instead of understanding it to be an imaginative political critique of the first two centuries CE.

 

I have a soft spot for the mid-80s and 1984 specifically. Part of it stems from the instant connection to George Orwell’s terrifying predictive dystopia from the famous book (written in 1949). It is fun to pair that picture with the realization that the movie Back To The Future came out in 1985.

Two of my favorite books were written in the mid-80s. To the first I find myself saying “ … and this was before the internet and cell phones!” – to the second I mumble “sadly, not much has changed … and it may be too late.”

The first book is The Reflective Practitioner by Donald Schon. I love this book! The only glaring gaps from its 1983 release is when he talks about both education and work/workplace management. It feels really dated at those moments and one begins to wonder what the author would say now with the internet and cell phones dominating so much of our day.

The second book is Theology For A Nuclear Age by Gordon Kaufman that I was using to prep for our Summer School High Gravity class. Here is the passage that stood out to me (formatted for blog):

 New ways of thinking are desperately needed in our time. We can see this at many different points in the complex of cultural crises that confront us. We now realize, for example, as earlier generations apparently did not, that the earth has quite limited resources and if we do not move quickly toward conservation of energy, water, minerals, arable land and so forth, human life as we know it can no longer be sustained.

  • We are poisoning ourselves in many ways:
  • The atmosphere – especially surrounding our cities
  • Fish can no longer live in many of our rivers and lakes
  • The food we eat apparently contains cancer causing agents
  • ‘Acid rain’ falls on our forests and kills the trees

It is clear that we dare no longer think in terms simple of meeting out immediate short-range needs, whether as individuals or as societies; if we do not tak account of the long range consequences of our activities, the ecological crisis in which we now live will deepen beyond repair.

 

He goes on to address the futility of:

  • nation-states and capitalism
  • western imperialism and colonialism
  • slavery
  • unrestricted exploitation of natural resources
  • racism and sexism
  • persecution of heretics and infidels
  • even attempts at genocide

 

One of the reasons that I am excited to focus on Sheila Greeve Davaney’s Theology At The End Of Modernity through the course is because she has assembled a diverse group of thinkers writing in response to the questions that Kaufman raised. The opening chapter is by Sally McFaugue and provides an immediate lightning strike!

We have an interview coming out Monday with Bonnie Miller-McLemore and she echoes what I have heard from so many authors and thinkers – something changed in the 80’s. Elizabeth Johnson has said the same as did Grace Ji-Sun Kim recently.

 

The past 30 years have seen some pretty major shifts – in the culture, in the church and in the academy.

While I still have a fondness for my memories of the 80’s, I am excited to spend this Summer constructing a theology for the 21st century together.

What decade or era do you have a soft spot for? 

For The Bible Tells Me So w/ Peter Enns

Genocide, Ham Sandwiches and Infallibility are on the docket as Peter Enns returns to the podcast for the second time. ennsreview-1He is a Biblical scholar and professor at Eastern University. If you missed Peter’s first visit about the evolution  of Adam and Eve … make sure to check it out.

Get your free ticket for the live podcast and seminary launch May 1st at 7pm with Philip Clayton.

Check out the Pando Populous Event June 4-7 and join Brian McLaren and I for our track and a live podcast saturday night.

Come join the HBC Community and support this podcast.

Sign up for the Living Option in Christian Theology SUMMER School class this June and July.

God Is No Longer In Control: The End of History

God is not in control and that is why, for many, the world feels so out of control. Some have adjusted to say that God was never in control – our ancestors just believed that was the case. Others think that God used to be in control but that something has fundamentally shifted in God’s relating to the world.Bomb

The past century brought about profound challenges to the way that we conceptualize God’s work in history. The horrific developments of warfare seen in the First World War began the shift. WWII brought not just incremental but exponential leaps in the technological capacity for human and environmental devastation.

This escalation has changed the way that humanity conceives of God and God’s work.

In Theology for a Nuclear Age, Gordon Kaufman says it this way:

In the religious eschatology of the West the end of history is pictured quiet differently than we today must face it. For it is undergirded by faith in an active creator and governor of history, one who from the beginning was working out purposes which were certain to realized as history moved to its consummation. The end of history, therefore – whether viewed as ultimate catastrophe or ultimate salvation – was to be God’s climactic act … the moment when God’s final triumph over all evil powers was accomplished.

For the entirety of Christian history, God was thought to be ultimately be in control. When the bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki we entered into a nuclear age and the very way that we conceive of and conceptualize God had to adjust.

The end of history which we in the late twentieth century must contemplate – an end brought about by nuclear holocaust – must be conceived primarily not as God’s doing but as ours.

We now have the capability of stopping future generations from even coming into existence. We could end human existence on this planet. The “possibility that we will obliterate all future human life is so novel and strange that it is difficult for us to grasp what we are up against”.

 

Henry Nelson Wieman wrote:

 “The bomb that fell on Hiroshima cut history in two like a knife. Before and after are two different worlds. That cut is more abrupt, decisive, and revolutionary than the cut made by the star over Bethlehem… it is more swiftly transformative of human existence than anything else that has ever happened. The economic and political oder fitted to the age before that parachute fell becomes suicidal in the age coming after. The same breach extends into education and religion.”

This is one of the reasons that we have created a High Gravity Summer School session – to deal with those who are responding to theology for a nuclear age.

 

My assertion is that every major theological development in the past 70 years – especially in Protestant circles – is in some way a reaction to the fracturing that has resulted since we split the atom.

The postLiberals, the Radical Orthodoxy, the Religious Right of Evangelicalism, Death of God and Radical theologies, Process and Liberation camps – even the small trend of Protestants converting to Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy … all are responses to or are adjustments resulting from this cataclysmic shift in the 20th century.

We might put them in 4 basic camps:

  • “God is not controlling things so we better take over” (Religious Right)
  • “The nature of God’s power is not what we had been told it was” (Process)
  • “Whatever we had thought God was and did is clearly not the case” (Radical)
  • “Clearly something is different and not working … we are going to pull back inside this insulated protected compartment so we get to keep doing what the church has always done” (Radical Orthodox and postLiberal)

The world changed in 1945. This August 6th will be 70 years since the bomb was dropped. Between Auschwitz and Hiroshima the world’s eyes were open to a new level of devastation and, through technology, an elevated capacity for human and environmental catastrophe.

 

I sometimes get accused of disparaging the past. I certainly don’t mean to as often as I do. So I am going to take a new approach. I wrote yesterday that attempts to revisit-reclaim-return-restore notions and concepts from a romanticized past are not just futile (we can’t go back) but dangerous because they do not deal with the inherent problems of the cultures and times in which they were embedded.

It is not that I am opposed to Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. It’s just that their projects were specific and particular to their time and place – even if they or their followers are under the impression that it was universal and timeless.

 

We live in a different world than they did and our god-talk needs to adjust-adapt-evolve accordingly.

I am excited about the conversation that we are going to have this June and July.

_______________

 

This is the final post in a 4 part series.

1 – The Problem With The Future Is Its Past

2- Christianity Isn’t Conservative

3 – The Problem With ‘Re-‘ Words

The Danger of ‘Re-‘ Words

We have some work to do and I am not sure ‘Re-‘ words are sufficient to get us there.R-Revelation

Omar Reyes is the fourth call on this week’s TNT episode. His question relates to a High Gravity class that has been taking on the new interest in Paul by philosophers.

One reason that Paul is attracting so much attention recently has to do with his view of universal implications from the particularity of the Christ event.

An example of this would be the famous unfolding-progressing inclusion of more and more people by dissolving established categories of separation-exclusion: male/female, slave/free, Jew/gentile.

This trajectory continues in the ongoing work of God’s spirit for reconciliation and restoration in more contemporary categories: gay/straight, black/white, rich/poor, citizen/foreigner, etc.

Now reconciliation and restoration are two good (and biblical) words that start with ‘Re-’. Two more powerful words that would complete that constellation would be :

  • Repentance
  • Reparations

In fact, I would suggest that these last two words need to come before the previous two:

  • Reconciliation
  • Restoration

 

Unfortunately, these four ‘Re-’ words are not the ones that I see/hear the most in many Christian circles. ‘Revelation’ and ‘Religion’ may be the big ones but they are not the only ones. Many seem to be fond of words like:

  • Revisit
  • Reclaim
  • Restore
  • Return
  • Renew
  • Renovate
  • Re-imagine
  • Revive
  • Retreat

 

I am not sure the above group of ‘Re-’ words is sufficient for the challenge that we are up against. As I argued last week in The Problem With The Future Is Its Past and Christianity Isn’t Conservative, the nature of Christianity is incarnational – so the past is not the determining factor for our present or future expression.

The problem with the past is that it is too easy to romanticize some notion or concept in isolation without addressing the larger structures of injustice and exclusion that it was embedded in.

That is why we can’t just reach back and reclaim-recycle-repurpose old words and concepts.

Here is an example: there is a popular desire in certain circles – from Radical Orthodoxy to my field of Practical Theology – to reclaim some Aristotelian notions like polis, habitus and phronesis (enacted wisdom).

This desire comes from a good place! There is a recognition (admittedly an ‘Re’ word) that the modernity project has dried out and withered the Christian soul and left it without vibrant connection-in-community and stripped of nearly all its practices/praxis.

I agree with that diagnosis.

The solution, however, is not simply to reclaim/recycle/repurpose ancient, antiquated or Aristotelian concepts from the pre-modern world. I have written about this a while ago in After MacIntyre and have since found the work of Susan Hekman very illuminating.

 MacIntyre’s approach exemplifies a disturbing characteristic of much of the communitarian literature: the romanticization of premodern societies that ignores the oppression and hierarchy that was endemic to those societies. Even Sandel (1984, 17), despite his modernist leanings, sometimes falls prey to the tendency to glorify traditional communities. The narrative selfhood that MacIntyre lauds can only be obtained at a high price: the ascription of traditional roles. 

She explains: 

When it comes to the highly charged issue of the sexism and racism of the traditions he praises so highly, MacIntyre seems to abandon his interrelationship thesis. With regard to the Aristotelian tradition, he tries to deny the claim that sexism and racism are an integral part of this system of virtues.

… throughout his writings MacIntyre unambiguously asserts it is this traditional community we must foster if we are to return to any semblance of a moral life:

“What matters at this stage are the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us (1984,263).”

 

This is a significant difference! To those like MacIntyre and Hauerwas, we are descending further into an age of darkness. Their answer is to reclaim-return to some former understanding or manifestation.

Hekman is right though – we cannot even attempt to do so without acknowledging and addressing the inherent racism, sexism, and disparity built into every level of the structures from which those romantic notions come.

 

This concern in the root of my unease with the popularity of ‘Re-’ words among groups including evangelicals, missio-alliance, radical orthodox, and post-liberals.

3 things in closing:

1) This is part 3 of a 4 part series. Tomorrow I will address the fiction of the End of History. Part 1 and part 2 can be found here.

2) Please sign up for Living Options in Christian Theology if you are interested in ideas like this. It is a High Gravity study group this June and July. Here is an introduction.

3) The words that we use indicate what impulse is behind them. This is why the critics can’t just say ‘semantics’ and dismiss the charge. I would love to hear the words that you would put forward to further this conversation.

My tri-part configurations of suggestions would be:

  •  Examine – Imagine – Adapt
  •  Explore – Address – Evolve
  •  Investigate – Interrogate – Innovate

 

I would love to hear your suggestions! 

Amy Butler and John Vest from PYM 2015

Progressive Youth Ministry 2015 in Chicago gave HBC a chance to hang with the Reverend Doctors Amy Butler and John Vest!pYM2015

Thanks to Phillips Theological Seminary for sponsoring the evening and make sure you check out the new Masters of Arts in Social Justice.

Kudos to the Hatchery for providing the pint glasses. They were very useful.

This is part 1 of that marathon evening and part 2 will be on the TNT in 3 days with a Genealogy of Liberal Theology.

 

Come join the HBC Community and support this podcast.

Sign up for the Living Option in Christian Theology SUMMER School class this June and July.