Saturday, March 21, 2015

Self and the City - An Inter-disciplinary Conference in Manchester

The Lincoln Theological Institute at The University of Manchester is putting on a conference called "Self and the City."

Dr. Benjamin Wood is assembling the conference.  The conference is April 24th-25th in Manchester.  Dr. Wood has told me that the call for papers is still open.  So send along a paper if it fits the call for papers below.

I will presenting a paper entitled: Early Christian Hospitality: The Apostolic Decree as a Statement of Mutual Christo-cultural Forgiveness.

This presentation will be part of my two-week, whirlwind trip to Tyndale House and Trinity College, Bristol.  

Another Covenant Seminary grad, now a PhD candidate at Cambridge, Arthur Keefer, will also present.  His paper is: Caricatures in the City: The Form and Function of Character Types in the Book of Proverbs

The conference's expressed purpose in its call for papers is: 

Bringing together theologians, social theorists and political activists, this two-day conference considers the relationship between cities and self-identity. Read through the lens of the Christian tradition, we will reflect on the ecclesiastical, doctrinal and political meanings produced by urban living.  Key to this enterprise is an exploration of the dimorphic nature of the city. From Babylon and Rome to Jerusalem and Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, urban spaces signify both sacred possibilities and moral dangers. The early monastic movement fled from the corruptions of the city, while the role of the urban bishop was highly political.  In contemporary culture these trends have been repeated in variants of both New Monasticism and 'Hipster Christianity' and 'Cafe Churches'. 
The enduring nature of these postures of embrace and retreat, raise significant questions for theo-political reflection. Can cities offer untapped resources for faithful discipleship? Or do urban spaces distort the priorities of the Church? Can the individualism(s) encouraged by the anonymity if the city supports Christians in developing alternative communities? Or is urban life a threat to the formation of such a counterculture? In postulating such a counterculture, what is the role of cyber-space in the formation of experimental Church-communities? And are new networked relationships transforming our understanding both civic identity and belonging? Can the cosmopolitan nature of the Internet help us to develop a sense of Catholicity or does it estrange us from the concrete and particular localities to which we belong?       
These questions necessarily gesture also at the pervasive antagonism between the urban and the rural. Is the rural a pre-condition for the production of the notion of city and the citizen? And what is the theological significance of such a relationship? For most in contemporary post-industrial societies, the countryside represents a romantic escape from the pressures of working-life. Yet, since the rural is also a 'working-space' (fraught with pressures and deprivations of its own) how should political theology treat such spaces? With these themes in mind, the conference organizers would welcome papers on the following areas: 

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