I am pretty pumped that Fortress Press is investing in real deal theology written for the people. Too many authors, publishers, and clergy keep theology in footnotes, block quotes, and $100 texts for libraries. Now there is going to be a line at one of the most excellent religion publishers dedicated to raising the level of the conversation at your local tavern, church parking lot and Facebook stream.
Personally I am glad they brought in Tony Jones to be a part of it and am thrilled they are sponsoring the Homebrewed Christianity Podcast LIVE at AAR/SBL this year in San Diego. Because Fortress wants to get the word out, if you come in person you will get some serious swag made of glass that holds a liquid treat. This liquid treat may be a beer brewed in honor of our podcast guest Catherine Keller. Who knows what could happen? Clearly you should be there for the hype and hang out with us afterwards.
Did I mention John Cobb and Jack Caputo will be there as well?!! Go here for more details. If you are coming & want to chill after tweet\email me.
This year during the American Academy of Religion is in San Diego. On Friday night, November 21st from 7 – 9 pm there shall be a LIVE podcast experience that will make geekdom quake and every nerd shake.
In Room 202A at the Hilton Bayfront people shall gather and encounter a theological spectacular. The Homebrewed crew will be joined by none other than Catherine Keller, John Cobb, and John Caputo.
The evening will be packed with podcast excellence. You will hear…
*an interview with Keller about her new book Cloud of the Impossible
*a discussion between Cobb & Keller about the future of Process theology and theological education
*Caputo will engage Keller’s new text and possibly lapse into metaphysical thinking under the lure of her thought (and/or a couple brews)
*Cobb & Caputo will both respond to 3 questions Keller has carefully crafted to draw out possible connections between the two JCs.
* Cobb will get an award for being the first HBC guest to total up 500,ooo downloads
* Keller will get a beer christened in her honor… with a sweet logo… there may be chilled samples
* LASTLY there will an Epic announcement of something super sweet that shall remain a mystery until that evening.
The live podcast is being sponsored by Fortress Press. They will have some serious goodness for those who attend.
PS… Regular HBC listeners, our Deacons, know that we often call John Cobb and John Caputo the other two JCs of the podcast. I have it on good authority that whenever two JCs gather and their thought is woven and folded together by a theopoetic master such as Catherine Keller the original JC is likely to appear.
For years (many more than you might think) this “thing” called theopoetics has been happening, occuring, bubbling-up in various places, writings, and presentations. Those who have called their work by the title of theopoetics come from diverse backgrounds including Biblical criticism, death of God theology, postmodern thought, and process theology. Such a wealth of fields and interests encourages broad interest but at the the same time can result in students, practicioners, laypeople, and theopoets themselves lacking a connection to the wider body. Callid Keefe-Perry’s book, Way to Water, remedies this by mapping a path through the sundry strands of theopoetics past and present, all the while working to demonstrate just what theopoetics is or aims to be.
Callid skillfully summarizes the positions of early theopoetic thinkers Stanley Hopper, Amos Wilder, and Rubem Alves before moving in subsequent chapters to more contemporary versions of theopoetic thought. He works his way through the contributions of Melanie Duguid-May and Scott Holland, process theologians Roland Faber and Catherine Keller, radical theologians Peter Rollins and John Caputo, and the work of Richard Kearney and Karmen MacKendrick. As the title suggests, Callid provides a path on the journey toward theopoetics (or a theopoetic) by gathering together some theopoetic events, examining their moments of resonance and pointing out their places of dissonance. He is careful not to coorindate theopoetic “schools” into fixed positions in relation to each other, which would be antithetical to the theopoetic project in general, but rather he treats the various thinkers/writers as bodies that might collid, slip over each other or dance together in the on-going effort to name and describe that which we call God.
Additionally, and importantly, the last two chapters of Way to Water indicate practical applications of theopoetics for churches and pastors. I would expect nothing less from a practical theologian, and again Callid proves wonderfully adept at parsing out how an embodied theopoetics might (and does) take shape through preaching, pastoral care, and liturgy.
Since Callid is well aware that there can be no conclusion to the infinite movement of divine rhythms, for me the end of the book unfolded into new beginnings in two significant ways. First, Callid suggests three definitions for the term theopoetics, each textured by what Callid has gleaned from the theologians he addresses in the book. These definitions struck me as deeply personal and intimately situated in various ways, which I believe only further demonstrates an important point Callid makes in the book: the symbolic, prerational, and sensuous modes of theological discourse are not to be ignored. Second, and very much related to the definitions he offers, Callid’s epilogue consists of a series of aphorisms intended not just to describe theopoetic work, but to actually be theopoetic writing. Here he shows us through stories and poems that, while not entirely elusive, the divine is not within our grasp, cannot be pinned down. Rather the aphorisms open the reader to the continual progression, the unfolding process of naming God, of articulating our relationship to the divine.
Way to Water provides a helpful text for those teaching or studying theopoetics for the first time, and it is accessible to non-academic readers as well. I highly recommend this book to all my pastor-type friends, as I know it will spark conversation among you and in your churches. I also recommend it my friends who might consider teaching a course on theopoetics and taking up the task of training the next generation of theopoetic thinkers.
My buddy Jeremy wrote this review and I shared it because I love Jeremy and Callid.
Ian McFarland is on the podcast for the first time and he’s talking about his new book From Nothing: A Theology of Creation. Dr. McFarland is a professor of theology at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in the ATL . During the interview I found out he earned his PhD at Yale with former guest Kathryn Tanner. It was an amazing conversation in which we discuss the nature of God, Creation, evil, divine action, providence and eschatology. Not only that but at the end of the podcast you get a personal invitation to join the fan club for Maximus the Confessor.
In the podcast we discuss our previous conversation with Catherine Keller and her text The Face of the Deep. We also make reference to the session from the American Academy of Religion title ‘Creatio ex Nihilio?’ that featured six different voices debating the doctrine and then the follow-up TNT episode.
It’s hard to make a film. Period. It’s damn hard to make a good film. If you’ve never made a film before, it’s really, bloody, damn hard to make a good one. But first-time filmmaker Phil Harrison has done just that. Not only is his first feature, The Good Man, beautifully written and shot and brilliantly acted (in Ireland and South Africa, no less), the narrative is loaded with implications ripe for theological, ethical, political, and economic discussions in our tightly-connected global community. To paraphrase the old saying, if a man is killed in Ireland, does it make a sound in South Africa?
Catherine Keller is clearly one of the most brilliant theologians taking residence on our planet and she is our Barrel Aged interview this week. We have done a bunch of process theology on the podcast but we haven’t had a process thinker who connects Whitehead with Deleuze and Derrida so sit back, relax, and get ready for a whole world of new ideas for your theological imagination. Catherine has a ton of books (On the Mystery is a book for everyone), Facebook author page, and a super-spiffy Professor page at Drew University (plus tons of free lectures\chapters for your reading).
Catherine is a theological poet…theology needs more poets!!! Many thanks to Catherine for sharing her imagination and time. May you all join the Nicolas of Cusa fan club.
Don’t forget to make your plans to attend a LIVE Homebrewed Christianity Podcast w/ Catherine Keller & John Cobb at the 2014 AAR/SBL gathering in San Diego. It will be Friday November 21, 2014 from 700-900 pm at the Hilton Bayfront in room 202-A. Anyone & everyone is welcome.
Want to join a live stream with Philip Clayton, Peter Rollins & I as we discuss Wolfhart Pannenberg’s christology? Well this coming thursday, September 18th, at 6pm pst. (9pm est.) everyone on the Homebrewed Christianity mailing list will get the secret online location for the excitement. If you want to hop online, enjoy a brew, and nerd out about Pannenberg with us then make sure you are on the mailing list below.
The live stream is the 3rd session of Pete & I’s 6 week High Gravity class on Christology. You are of course more than welcome to sign up for the entire thing, download all the readings and the content from the first two sessions on Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. Then you can join us live for the final four sessions.
See you then!
The planet lost one of the greatest theologian this past week & in this episode Philip Clayton and I discuss his amazing career. Philip Clayton is a professor of theology at Claremont School of Theology and former student of Pannenberg. He recently wrote a beautiful tribute to his former mentor you can read here. We thought it would be fun to remember Pannenberg by discussing his theology and we did. We went through a bunch of different topics he covered and yet after 70 minutes we barely discussed a third of my list of ‘Pannenberg’s big ideas.’ I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did.
Check out this collection of Pannenberg remembrances and resources.
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Tony Jones posted Philip Clayton’s obituary of Wolfhart Pannenberg. Pannenberg was my first nerd crush in undergrad. At Campbell University my religion professor Dr. Martin was disturbed by my ‘loosely Christian Jesus Seminar styled Tillichianism’ and insisted I read a real theology text – Jesus: God & Man. I stayed up two nights in a row to finish it. I half understood it but was completely mesmerized by how thorough Pannenberg attended to the same historical Jesus conversation that was defaulting my Christology. After that I knew I wanted to be a theologian. Three years later at Wake Forest University it was Pannenberg’s first American student, Frank Tupper who gave me an intense Pannenberg summer seminar in Pannenberg. He said “I will make you work more in 2 months than your first two years of graduate school. In the end you will know Pannenberg & you will know if you are really called to be a theologian. It was intense. We read all 3 volumes of his Systematic Theology meeting each week to discuss 150 pages and my 15 page paper on each section. At the end of the class I had two week to write a 50+ single space page final paper. In the process of reading, writing, and avoiding sleep I came to love Pannenberg’s intellectual tenacity. At Claremont School of Theology I got teach Pannenberg in my first Systematic Theology class w/ Philip Clayton. He asked me to give the 45 minute intro to Pannenberg’s project and I was intimidated. Afterward Philip gave me a few comments and then said ‘it was very clear you love Pannenberg for the best reasons. Too many evangelicals love him for his conclusions and fail to appreciate his true brilliance in the argument itself.’ Later I wrote an article on the conversation between Pannenberg and John Cobb. After Cobb read it was had lunch to discuss it but all Cobb talked about was Pannenberg’s hospitality in Germany and his commitment to their friendship. Then I Cobb showed me the Christmas card he received from Pannenberg.
Pannenberg has always been a part of my academic life and the story of my faith. I always wished I would have had the chance to tell Pannenberg thank you.
Below is Philip’s words.
Wolfhart Pannenberg—In Memoriam
by Philip Clayton
Wolfhart Pannenberg has often been called the greatest theologian of the second half of the 20th century. With his death Friday, the world has lost a brilliant interpreter of Christianity, and I have lost the mentor who molded me as a scholar, theologian, and person.
In the 1950s, when Pannenberg was a doctoral student in Heidelberg, Karl Barth dominated the theological stage. In order to counteract Barth’s overemphasis on salvation history (Heilsgeschichte), Pannenberg redefined revelation as “universal history” (Universalgeschichte). A few years later he published a major Christology (Jesus—God and Man) that established him as the world’s leading defender of “theology from below.”
Over the next 30 years, Pannenberg extended this program to philosophy, the religion/science debate, the dialogue across the world religions, and to every corner of theology. He had the most encyclopedic mind I have ever encountered. You need only to read around a bit in his multi-volume Basic Questions in Theology to be stunned by the range and depth of his scholarship. John Cobb once quipped, “I saw that Pannenberg was able to encompass the entire range of knowledge within his own mind. Realizing that I could never match this achievement, I decided it would take a lifetime of working with my doctoral students to cover as many topics.”
Pannenberg’s staunch defense of the historicity of the resurrection made him a champion among American evangelicals. His extensive involvement in the ecumenical movement and his unsurpassed knowledge of the history of theology were crucial to the most important ecumenical breakthroughs in the World Council of Churches. Taken together, Pannenberg’s extensive writings, including his three-volume systematic theology, offer a theological program unrivaled its comprehensiveness, depth, and rigor.
Yet Pannenberg’s influence extended far beyond the evangelical and ecumenical worlds. His early statement that “in a restricted but important sense, God does not yet exist”caught the attention of process theologians and involved him in a multi-year dialogue with John Cobb (who studied with Pannenberg in Mainz in 1963), Lewis Ford, and others. He met regularly with scientists, stressing contingency and natural law as openings for constructive engagement between science and theology. Pannenberg traveled widely around the world, was guest professor at Harvard and Claremont, and hosted many professors and doctoral students from the United States and elsewhere during his decades of teaching at the University of Munich.
I was one of those students. While still at Fuller Seminary, I met Pannenberg (at Claremont, ironically) and asked him for his permission to begin my doctorate work under his guidance. A two-year scholarship from DAAD funded the stay in Munich, and I wrote the first 200 pages of the dissertation under his direction. Although I completed my doctoral studies at Yale, I always considered Pannenberg the true mentor of the dissertation. From him I learned the importance of Gründlichkeit, rigorousness — a virtue that I have sought to impart to my classes and doctoral students throughout my career.
Thanks to Fulbright and Humboldt professorships, I returned for two further years of study under him; our relationship, and his influence on me, deepened in those years. I remember, for example, a birthday celebration at our small apartment that lasted (in good old-German fashion) for five hours of eating and conversation. As all who knew him will attest, Pannenberg’s success had much to do with his indomitable wife, who guided his days and decisions better than any executive coach you’ve ever met. I have watched her disperse a group of intensely debating professors as if they were bowling pins: “Excuse me, you must all go home now. My husband needs some rest; he has a busy day tomorrow.”
Pannenberg set unimaginable standards for himself and others. Each workday he would write from 5-10 am. On Tuesdays and Fridays he would catch the commuter train to the University of Munich and present the new material in that day’s lecture. If you asked him a question on virtually any theological topic, you would be treated to an extemporaneous five-minute answer, running from biblical texts to biblical theology to Patristics, Scholastics, Reformation thinkers, and modern theology, with detailed treatments of what secular philosophers, historians, and scientists had written on the subject. Once, when he was writing his anthropology, I asked him why he looked so tired. “Herr Clayton,” he said, “the literature on this topic is uferlos, unbounded. I have been reading 500 pages-a-day, now I have switched to reading 1000 pages-a-day in order to master all of it.”
What many people don’t realize is that Pannenberg modified his “theology from below” stance early in his career. By the time of the “Afterword” to Jesus—God and Man (1970), he had already developed a method that combined theology from below and theology from above. The brilliant debates on the nature of the Trinity in the 1970s—especially the back-and-forths with Jürgen Moltmann—show this method in action. Miroslav Volf and I were both studying in Germany in the 1980s, he under Moltmann in Tübingen and I under Pannenberg in München. We and our wives would meet multiple times each year, taking long walks in the forest and debating the merits of our respective Doktorväter until late into the night. (It is no coincidence that in the German system your dissertation advisor is your “doctor-father”; the relationship is close, life-long, and affects every fiber of your being.)
Pannenberg’s conservativism on political and social issues—for example, on feminism and gay rights—set him at odds with many theologians. He wrote a demanding and uncompromising form of theology in the very years when pastors and the public began to prefer more informal, journalistic, and experience-based theologies. Pannenberg was no popularist.
Yet without question he has had a profound influence on some of the greatest theological minds of our generation: John Cobb and Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson in the early years, the famous fiery debates with Moltmann and Jüngel, the religion-and-science discussions with John Polkinghorne and Arthur Peacocke and others, and my fellow students in Munich, such as Stan Grenz and Roger Olson and E. Frank Tupper and Ted Peters. In the dozens and dozens of lectures in the United States over some 40 years, Pannenberg engaged in intense exchanges with virtually every great intellectual personality of our age. In this fiery furnace— or in direct opposition to it!—many of the greatest theological breakthroughs of the last decades were forged.
Two hundred years from now, historians of theology will describe the work of Karl Barth and Wolfhart Pannenberg as the two theological giants of the mid-20thcentury. But I want to make sure that the record also includes Pannenberg’s warmth as a person—his quick smile, the way his eyes sparkled when he told a joke, his enduring friendships, and his deep commitment to mentoring and supporting his students.
Pannenberg has been called a rationalist. Before you accept this epitaph, you should read his theological autobiography in the American Festschrift that Carl Braaten and I co-edited,The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg: Twelve American Critiques. In fact, his theology grew out of a dramatic conversion experience and a continual sense of the real presence of God’s Spirit.
For all his wrestling with philosophy and science, Pannenberg was in the end a man of deep, abiding faith. He believed that the richness and immensity of God call for the most profound study and reflection that our minds are capable of
…that theology should meet and exceed the highest standards that philosophers set for themselves
…and that we never need to compromise as we wrestle to understand as much of the divine nature as we can grasp through every source available to us.
Philip Clayton studied under Wolfhart Pannenberg for four years and continued to work with him for most of his career. Clayton is Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of Theology. He has held visiting professorships at Harvard, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Munich, and has written or edited 25 books and some 250 articles in theology, philosophy, religion-and-science, and comparative religious thought.