Open thread: Subverting the Norm II reactions

I just got home from Subverting the Norm II in Springfield, MO.  I had to leave a little early to be back in time to preach on Sunday morning, so I missed the later sessions.  Jeff Robbins said this morning, and I agree, that the big shift that we have seen between the first Subverting the Norm conference and this one is that there seems to be a whole lot more people talking about radical theology, folks are more comfortable with the vocabulary, and there didn’t seem to be as big of a rift between the academics and the pastors present.  To the last point, I think there were fewer pastors in the audience, but more clergy involved in presentations and breakout sessions.  I really enjoyed the Homebrewed Christianity event with Tripp Fuller and others; the Caputo and Cobb beers were very good.  The whole conference was a lot to take in, compressed in a very short time and it seemed like there were really interesting things going on against each other all day–I heard that the schedule got modified a bit at the end to accomodate this.

I finished reading Brewin’s Mutiny on the flight to the conference, and then heard him speak about this and his new book, After Magic.  AUFS commenter Robert Saler asked an excellent question regarding the violence of piracy which exposes Brewin’s Mutiny book a little bit, perhaps not exposed (at least from my perspective) as having a weak or thin argument, because I don’t think the book makes the case of having much of an “argument” to be taken too seriously, though some of the observations made along the way are serious and creative.  To the contrary, I think Brewin is on to something more in Mutiny–I asked some folks around, “Does Palin’s Going Rogue constitute an act of piracy?”  Those I asked thought I was joking, but I mean this quite seriously: Has “piracy” as Brewin pronounces it, as arising out of the perception of the theft of “the commons,” been itself pirated?  Mary Daly speaks to this as the Realm of Reversals, and she too proposes Piracy as a theological method–or is piracy always going to be pirated away from what it actually is?  Perhaps I am overthinking, and the ideas are just raw and swimming with me at the moment.

The biggest issue I’ve been pondering regarding the conference is that the definition of “radical theology” seems to have been expanded quite a bit, but yet it seems to now exclude, perhaps unintentionally, the actual radical theologians. Even to the point that a poster was distributed with “radical theolgians” on Mount Rushmore: Hegel, Tillich, Derrida, and Caputo.  Now, I thought it was cool that toasts were made to each of these on Saturday night, but I also thought it was interesting that Caputo seems to have embraced this title and role.

And: Thanks to Phil Snider, an AUFS commenter/lurker, for putting the whole thing together, which I am sure was a tremendous task.

I’ll also mention that AUFS was being discussed around – “Did you see the cover for APS’s book?”, etc.

Other thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Open thread: Subverting the Norm II reactions

  1. I would be curious if you experienced some sort of spectrum in how RT is received/understood/appropriated. i.e. Wow, this stuff is great fodder for clever sermons to shit, some of this stuff might mean shutting it down.

  2. to the degree that there was a marriage at Syracuse U. of Altizer/Vahanian/Winquist and the Drew folks after Tillich (St.Hopper/DavidMiller), with input from folks like Mark C. Taylor, I think that Caputo’s work is right out of the same veins of thought, I haven’t read his coming book yet but the only aspect I see lacking is the same emphasis on lived experience.

  3. Dmfant: Yes, and keep in mind that some of the (lost) history of Syracuse’s religion program is that it came into its own after a faculty and administrative schism around the very issue of radical theology and its appropriate presence in a Methodist theological school. Gabriel Vahanian used to tell a great story about this, so it is an apt observation about Drew and Syracuse folks coming together. And, too, that the Chicago tradition has left Chicago, with the exception of CTS.

    Perhaps I am just having a hard time reconciling some of it with Caputo’s dismissal of Altizer in After the Death of God.

    David: Yes, a lot of the tensions surrounded “how does evangelism look now, following the death of daddydom” and “let’s just move on.”

  4. yes the grad school at Drew has its roots in the tensions that came after St. Hopper turned to ‘secular’ figures in the arts and psychology (to flesh out his theology) to the dismay of more conservative elements in the seminary, I suppose it is a sign of the tides having turned that there was not push back against the seminary recently absorbing those programs back into the fold but sadly this does not seem to have bridged the gap there between faculty/students with a more academic bent and those faculty and students more concerned with the daily life of the Church. Maybe the students working around Corrington (who is off on his own orbit @Drew) can bring some of these interests together?

  5. Corrington was my dissertation director. I wonder what Subverting the Norm III would look like if the next tide moved/swarmed away from Zizek and Caputo and toward Corrington, whose work is underappreciated…

  6. while I appreciate Caputo’s hermeneutics of not-knowing I for one would also appreciate a shift from the endless hall of mirrored speculations about “lack” to a more Lingis-like world of excesses, and Corrington’s ecstatic naturalism could certainly be the grounds on which to revive Winquist’s dark epiphanies…

Comments are closed.