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Political Theology at the 2022 AAR/SBL Conference

The following post contains information that may be of interest for those attending AAR/SBL in Denver this year.

Are you heading to the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature conference in Denver, November 19-22? Here are some political theology-related events that you might want to visit. Please feel free to add more in the comments – this list is not meant to be exhaustive. Hope to see you there!

Political Theology Network Reception

Our annual “underground” reception at the American Academy of Religion conference returns this year! First 100 people to register receive free drinks; RSVP here for a drink, Facebook event here. Let’s celebrate the all who have published in the journal Political Theology or the Political Theology Network website, all those who have worked behind the scenes to advance conversations in political theology, and especially Janna Hunter-Bowman, whose book Witnessing Peace: Becoming Agents Under Duress in Colombia is the first to be published in the new Transforming Political Theologies series. Journal editors will share brief remarks, and Janna will speak briefly about her book at 8pm.

Political Theology Program Unit

Loosely affiliated with the Political Theology Network, the AAR’s Political Theology program unit is offering three sessions this year:

Specters of Marx, Theological and Political
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 4B (Lower Level)

In April 1993, Jacques Derrida gave a lecture published later that year as Spectres de Marx, which quickly became one of his most celebrated texts. Thirty years later, how might a return to Specters challenge hegemonic culture and contribute to decolonization? This panel poses philosophical, theological, and political questions by attending to Marx and the specters of Marx. We begin by asking whether and how Derrida’s discourse in Specters might be understood to be “materialist.” Observing the uncanny appearance of Enrique Dussel’s Las metáforas teológicas de Marx in the same year as Derrida’s text, we reexamine the specters and theological metaphors of Marx, tracking his conjuration of the revenants of Christianity and asking what “unproductive labor” might accomplish “beyond man.” By returning to the theological and political specters of Marx, we aim to promote decolonization inside and outside of the philosophy of religions and the study of political theology today.

Ryan Bingham, University of Chicago
A Materialism without Substance: Derrida’s Specters of Marx and Questions of Responsibility

Filipe Maia, Boston University
The Haunting of Liberation: Derrida and Dussel, Three Decades Later

Rafael Vizcaino, DePaul University
A Postsecular Marx from Latin America

William Underwood, University of Chicago
“The Flesh Profiteth Nothing”: Materialism and the Christian Question

Rebekah Rosenfeld, University of Chicago
Reading Specters of Marx on Unproductive Labor

David Newheiser, Australian Catholic University

Eduardo Mendieta, State University of New York, Stony Brook

Political Theologies of Unruly Subjectivity
Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 4D (Lower Level)

This panel focuses on modes of subjectivity that do not fit or behave according to the common norms and assumptions of political theology. Two papers examine the relationship between subjectivity and the body: the fat body as refusing historical erasure and revealing existing power dynamics, and the implicit distributive value perceived in different kinds of bodies for the purpose of ventilator allocation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two other papers examine the excessive subjectivity of the secular, liberal self: interrogating the “needs” and “desires” of Blumenberg’s secular rationality and, with Adorno, the modes of social connection underwriting conspiratorial thinking. What must political theologies learn from bodies that do not behave–about power, about social life, and about the origin of value?

Lisa Gasson-Gardner, University of Tennessee
Getting Fat: Power and Possibility in a Fat Political Theology

John-Harmen Valk, Leiden University
Political Theology and Desire: Revisiting Blumenberg’s Reoccupation Thesis

Christopher C. Brittain, Trinity College, Toronto
Conspiracy Theory and the Stigmata of the Social Order: Towards a Practical response by Political Theology

Nicholas Low, Harvard University
Gods in the Flesh: Nietzsche’s Embodied Agencies and Tragic Politics

Michelle Sanchez, Harvard University

Decolonial Critiques of the Secular/Religious Divide
Monday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Embassy Suites-Crystal B (Third Level)

This roundtable joins senior and junior scholars from different disciplines to challenge one aspect of the theory/practice divide in the academy: the coloniality of the secular/religious divide. Rooted in Latin American liberation philosophies and theologies, Caribbean anticolonial thought, women of color feminisms, Indigenous religions traditions, among other areas of inquiry and practice, the scholars in this roundtable contest epistemically hegemonic conceptions of “the secular” and “the religious” by specifically locating how processes of colonization have constituted these categories as objects of study. A decolonial critique of the secular/religious divide is at stake in this dialogue.

Laura Perez, University of California, Berkeley
Eduardo Mendieta, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Natalie Avalos, University of Colorado
Rafael Vizcaino, DePaul University

Vincent Lloyd, Villanova University

An Yountae, California State University, Northridge

PTN Co-Sponsored Session With Auburn Theological Seminary

Re-Engaging The Powers: Reading Walter Wink’s Non-Violent Resistance during Russkiy Mir
Sunday, 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM
Convention Center-612 (Street Level)

For a generation of seminarians, Walter Wink—a Biblical scholar, theologian, and activist who taught at Union and Auburn Theological Seminaries in New York—embodied the best of progressive Protestantism. Best known for his acclaimed trilogy: Naming the Powers(1984); Unmasking the Powers (1986); and Engaging the Powers (1992)], Wink was an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam and was awarded a Fellowship from the U.S. Institute of Peace to complete the final volume of the trilogy.

Wink’s “powers” are drawn from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, in which “princes and governments” represent cosmic forces bent on earthly domination and spiritual desolation: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12-13, NRSV). Wink argues Christians are called to resist such power through nonviolence. Per Wink’s reading of the Sermon on the Mount, only non-violence allows Christians to resist the forces of evil without ultimately contributing to the world’s evil.

This panel examines Wink’s complex legacy against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Few Additional Political Theology-Related

Reproductive Labor
Saturday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Hyatt Regency-Mineral C (Third Level)

This panel features papers that thematize reproductive labor, which encompasses both biological and social reproduction, in both past and present contexts. These papers define and/or queer reproductive labor in multifaceted yet clear ways and show how it interlocks with classed, gendered, raced, sexualized, and many other inequalities.

Amanda Griffin, Yale University
Christian Salvation and Failed Reproduction

Shelly Tilton, University of Virginia
Rebekah K Latour, University of Virginia
Erections and Erectile Wills: A Theory of Male Reproductive Labor

Erin Beall, Texas Christian University
Furniture, Fiend, or Female: Asserting the Humanity of Bilhah and Her Descendants

Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University
Hetty and Elizabeth: Women’s Ecclesial Reproductions in an Economy of Enslavement

Annie Blazer, College of William and Mary

Beatrice Marovich, Hanover College

The Resurgence of Kingship in the Pentecostal Social Imagination
Saturday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Convention Center-108 (Street Level)

The ascensions of Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, stylized as evangelical “kings,” into presidential offices in the US and Brazil animated forceful challenges to both democracies. This roundtable examines and compares the provenance, function, and dissemination of kingship tropes in evangelical political narratives in the US and Brazil.

Erica Ramirez, Auburn Seminary
Leah Payne, George Fox University
Joao Chaves, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Ryan Burge, Eastern Illinois University
Sam Kestenbaum, Journalist and University of California, Santa Barbara

Dara Delgado, Allegheny College

Christian Nationalism and the Limits of Liberalism
Saturday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Convention Center-Mile High 4C (Lower Level)

In the wake of the Trump presidency, this panel explores the theological and practical implications of Christian nationalism as a basis for theological reflection, paradigms of gender, and the formation of new religious and political movements. The first paper explores the Christology of Christian Nationalism in groups such as QAnon through a spiritualization of nationalism and messianic views of political leaders. The second explores the roots of illiberal and antidemocratic conservatism in natural theologies of gender. Finally, the third paper explores the theology and praxis of Lance Wallnau and the influence of his Seven Mountain Mandate on Evangelical and Charismatic Christians in the Trump era. All three case studies demostrate the broad and continued influence of nationalistic theology on the American political and religious landscape.

David Ritchie, West Texas A&M University
“Sketching a Christology of Nationalism: How Nationalism Utilizes Messianic Characterizations to Elicit Spiritual Devotion and Religious Affection”

Stephen Waldron, Boston University
Natural Theologies of Gender in National Conservative Ideology

Matthew D. Taylor, Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies
The Seven Mountains of Colorado: The Capitol Riot and the Ascendant Independent Charismatics in the Religious Right

Ann Duncan, Goucher College

Reproductive Labor as a Critical Concept for the Study of Religion
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-402 (Street Level)

Reflecting a feminist/egalitarian commitment concerning knowledge-production, this session centers on a conversation among attendees sparked by panelists’ opening comments (rather than traditional papers). Panelists will engage diverse forms of biological and social reproductive labor, including Black women’s political activism, the communities of care that single motherhood calls into being, farm labor as labor essential for life, and humans collaborating with the more-than-human rest of nature to become a world in which all living beings sustain one another. After brief opening comments, there will be 20-30 minutes of conversation in breakout groups for attendees to reflect together on how the concept/lens of reproductive labor, defined in this coherently capacious way, can advance their respective studies of religion; this will be followed by plenary conversation.

AnneMarie Mingo, Pennsylvania State University
Karen Bray, Wesleyan College
Jeremy V. Cruz, St. John’s University, New York
Claudio Carvalhaes, Union Theological Seminary

Jeremy Posadas, Stetson University

Mapping Catastrophes: Vulnerability, Exclusion, and Hope for Liberation
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Hyatt Regency-Granite A (Third Level)

Catastrophes on a local, regional, and global scale are not new phenomena, especially for the most vulnerable, the impoverished, and the excluded by those who benefit greatly from the status quo and the systems they support and participate in. New to this time is the rapidly increasing impact of climate change, the rise of governments and political leaders that continue to pursue policies that are extractive of natural resources, exclusivist of peoples on the move and peoples on the margins, and the continued manufacturing of untruth at the service of nationalistic power and market progress. All of this makes it difficult to hear the voices of the excluded and marginalized as they identify sources and places for liberation and hope. This session gathers five papers exploring intersections of these themes in a variety of contexts.

Alina Jabbari, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
Modern Qur’anic Hermeneutics: Liberation Theology as frameworks for ‘Muslim Futuring’

Sau Nam, Ellicot City, MD
Solidarity with and within the Oppressed for Collective Liberation in the Church and Society

Blair Wilner, University of Virginia
The Ecology of Hell: Liberating Catastrophic Landscapes at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Timothy Couper, Fordham University
The Hope and Failure of Liberation: Queer Theory and the Theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez

Maria T. Davila, Merrimack College

Freedom and Religion in the United States
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 1F (Lower Level)

Bill of Rights protections of speech, religion, and gun ownership continue to shift in definition and applicability. This session explores the limits of and appeals to freedom by religious individuals in our politically fractured society. The first paper explores appeals to free exercise rights in attempts to claim exemption to Covid-19 vaccine, testing, and mask policies and the ways in which this debate broadens the boundaries of religious experience and expression. The second paper presents a theological approach to hate speech and the limits of free speech protections. The third paper explores women’s religious perspectives on mass shootings, public violence, and gun rights. The last examines Conservative Christian appeals to the legacy of the Civil Rights era in contemporary debates over free exercise of religion.

Eric Stephen, Harvard University
Claiming ‘Religion’ in the Age of COVID-19: An Examination into how Conservative Legal and Religious Groups Translate Political Objections to COVID-19 Policies into Free Exercise Arguments

Stewart Clem, Aquinas Institute of Theology
Free Speech and Hate Speech in Christian Political Thought

Margaret Kelley, University of Kansas
Women Gun Owners, Religion, and Beliefs about Mass Shootings

Gabriel Raeburn, University of Pennsylvania
‘Let’s give equal rights to the Christians’: Debates over Religious Freedom and Discrimination in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Scott Culpepper, Dordt University

Christian Nationalism
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-110 (Street Level)

The Wesleyan and Methodist Studies Unit will explore historical and theological approaches to the issue of Christian Nationalism.  The papers address the connections between Methodism and nationalism in Canada, Korea, and the United States.  The session will also discuss:
the role of individuals or institutions identifying with Wesleyan theological tradition in the development, propagation, or persistence of Christian Nationalism
the role of the Wesleyan theological tradition in opposition to Christian Nationalism
Wesleyan/Methodist theological positions on Christian Nationalism, the merging of religious and national identities, white supremacy, and related topics

Samuel Needham, University of Toronto
The Ryerson Effect: Egerton Ryerson and the Methodist Relationship to Christian Nationalism

Daniel Ostlund, Drew University
The Opposite of Nationalism is Abolition: Political-Theological Questions for the Wesleyan-Methodist Theologian

Heejun Yang, Duke University
Overcoming Nationalism in the Korean Methodist theology of inculturation: Towards the fourth-generation Korean Methodist theology

Cindy K. Wesley, University of Northern Colorado

Jermaine Marshall, Saint John’s University, New York

Postcolonial Politics and Theology (Westminster John Knox Press, 2021) by Kwok Pui-lan
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 4F (Lower Level)

This roundtable discussion discusses the book Postcolonial Politics and Theology. This book employs postcolonial theory to challenge the Eurocentric preoccupation of political theology and advances a postcolonial and comparative approach that addresses the realities of the majority world. It points to the need to critique the alignment with empire in the study of religion/theology using a postcolonial lens and to reimagine political theology more broadly from a global perspective. A special focus of the book will be on the changing sociopolitical realities of the American Empire and Sino-American competition. The tensions between China and the U.S. are encapsulated in Donald Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” and Xi Jinping’s hope for a “China Dream.” The shifting of U.S. and Asian relationships provides an exemplary case to look at political theology globally. The multiracial discussants come from African American, Latino, Asian, and Caucasian backgrounds, and they will expand the discussion on postcolonial and decolonial Christianity, White hegemony, U.S. militarism, and resistance movements from the disciplines of Christian social ethics, religious studies, and practical theology.

Traci C. West, Drew University
Miguel De La Torre, Iliff School of Theology
Nami Kim, Spelman College
Melinda McGarrah Sharp, Columbia Theological Seminary

K. Christine Pae, Denison University

Kwok Pui Lan, Emory University

Religion and Reproductive Liberation
Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-112 (Street Level)

This session brings graduate and early career scholars sharing their research on the state of the religious dimensions of women’s reproductive rights in North America. Papers ask questions such as the role that faith-based movements play both in exacerbating women’s oppression and in bringing signs of hope for the future of reproductive justice. From the perspectives of ecofeminism, womanist ethics, feminist liberation theology and media studies, emerging scholars will be engaging with the relationship between political power, culture and religious patriarchal ideologies and their treatment of women’s bodies. Papers are asking questions about pedagogical approaches within theological education, and are making connections between reproductive rights and environmental justice issues.

Toni Bond, Claremont School of Theology
Loosening Our Tongues: Creating a Womanist Theo-Ethic of Reproductive and Sexual Justice

Tara Baldrick-Morrone, Wake Forest University
The Ancient Foundations of Current Challenges to Reproductive Justice in America

Margaret Hamm, Boston University
Kate Hoeting, Harvard University
TikTok on the Sidewalk: Christianity and Abortion through Clinic Escorts’ Social Media

Mary Nickel, Princeton University
The theological conception of voluntary motherhood

Haley Feuerbacher, Southern Methodist University
Can Our Water Speak? A Cry for the Subjectivity of Water and Womb in Progressive Religious Communities and Academia

Elizabeth Freese, Auburn Seminary
Eve’s Exodus: A Pedagogy and Practical Theology Toolkit for Abortion Morality Transformation

Yvonne Zimmerman, Methodist Theological School in Ohio

Margaret Kamitsuka, Oberlin College and Conservatory

Ekklesia of the Dead: The Theopolitics of Churchstateness in the Americas
Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Hyatt Regency-Capitol 1 (Fourth Level)

This moderated panel celebrates and explores the way in which Jennifer Scheper Hughes, Paul Christopher Johnson, Carlota McAllister, and Valentina Napolitano are pushing Catholic Studies in the Americas in new directions. Pointing to the limitations of religious politics configured solely within a “Church/State” frame, their recent publications shift scholarly attention to the way that theologies of incarnation inform “churchstateness” in Latin America. The panel will generate some light and maybe a little heat about what is at stake in the emergent concepts of “Ekklesia” and “theopolitics” and what it means to configure Catholicism as an ekklesia founded upon death.

Jennifer Scheper Hughes, University of California, Riverside
Valentina Napolitano, University of Toronto
Paul Christopher Johnson, University of Michigan
Carlota McAllister, York University

J. Michelle Molina, Northwestern University

Practicing Hope in Catastrophic Times
Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Convention Center-302 (Street Level)

This panel addresses variations on the question: what is the role of ecclesial bodies in the midst of catastrophes, crises, and/or traumatic events? How is hope articulated in practice that is cognizant of these material realities?  Faith communities embody implicit and explicit practices that point towards an understanding of hope or a theology of hope. Hope as a theological category can be expressed by theologians within generalizing claims. However, these presenters engage ethnography/qualitative research to address the contextuality and awareness of hope in global, local, and/or regional contexts. The papers investigate varying frameworks and methodologies that specific communities employ to manage catastrophes, and ask the following: What is the theology of hope at work in these communities, and how is it practiced or not practiced? What are the nuances of these practices in combination with or contrast to their respective theologies of hope?

Marie-Claire Klassen, University of Notre Dame
The Political Praxis of Lament in the Palestinian Christian Community

Hector Varela Rios, University of Chicago
No hope like decolonial hope

Matthew Robinson, University of Bonn
Johannes Fröh, University of Bonn
Facilitating Hope Amidst Crisis: Twitter Activity of Christian Groups as a Factor for Social Resilience

Rebecca Spurrier, Columbia Theological Seminary

Religious Violence Amid Global Confusion, Conspiracy, and Catastrophe
Saturday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Convention Center-401 (Street Level)

Heidi Ippolito, Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver
QAnon, Memes, and Morality: How Pop Culture Fandom and Apocalypse Narratives Lay the Groundwork for Conspiratorial Communities

Ruslan Yusupov, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Regarding the Difference of Others: Interethnic Family Space and Surveillance in Contemporary Xinjiang, China

Emma Thompson, Princeton University
Fighting Hindu Nationalism on Social Media: Indian Queer Activists and the Languages of Secularism

Jay Givens, Wayland Baptist University
When All Hell Breaks Loose: Christian Nationalism in Washington and Moscow

Oscar Guana Osorio, Boston University
The Growth of Latin American Pentecostalism as a Decisive Political Conservative Minority and the Rise of Christ-Neofascism

Chase L. Way

Afterlives of Christianity: Supersession and the Scholarly Construction of Religion
Saturday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Embassy Suites-Aspen A (Third Level)

The aim of the panel is to think about the idea of supersession outside of a purely theological register, so as to get a sense of the way that supersession survives or persists in academic scholarship on religion, especially where such scholarship self-consciously positions itself as secular and scientific. We aim to pay attention to supersession as something that is originally Christian, but which spills over its original theological and ecclesiological boundaries into numerous other material and intellectual domains: imperial and colonial projects, domestic policies regarding religious others (especially, though not only, Jews), religious materialities and aesthetics, philosophies of history, ethnographic ethics, comparative projects in linguistics and mythologies, debates about secularism, etc. Our hope is that our panel will encourage more scholarly reflection on the question of supersession throughout the academy.

Benjamin Steele-Fisher, University of California, Davis
Mythography and the Jewish Question: Between Lack and Excess

Timothy Snediker, University of California, Santa Barbara
How Do We Recognize Christianity?

Madison Tarleton, College of Charleston
Personifications of Alterity and Theological Superiority: Strasbourg’s Synagoga and Ecclesia as an Illustrative Example of Material Supersession in Medieval Europe

Lucas Wright, University of California, Irvine
Theory and Narration: Philosophy of Religion, Supersessionism, and the Status of History

Emily Filler, Washington and Lee University

Larisa Reznik, Pomona College

Beyond Capitalism: Four Constructive Proposals toward Ecological, Equitable, Democratic Economic Life
Sunday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Hyatt Regency-Granite B (Third Level)

This session includes a panel of four scholars all of whom work at the intersection of academy, religious communities, and broader social movements, and who are developing resources for building more equitable and ecological economies that go “beyond” the corporate-and-finance-driven global capitalism that shapes life today.  They present their constructive projects including the theoretical and practical challenges involved in radical change in the political-economic structures and ideologies undergirding advanced global capitalism.  All highlight roles that religion may play in the transition to economies beyond capitalism.

Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University
Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
Filipe Maia, Boston University
Jeremy Posadas, Stetson University

Rosetta E. Ross, Spelman College

Carmen Lansdowne

New Directions for Theorizing Race and Sovereignty in Religious Studies
Sunday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Embassy Suites-Crystal C (Third Level)

This panel takes its cue from recent scholarship in Black studies and decolonial theory that emphasize “sovereignty” as an animating force of racialization. Sovereignty here will name a moving analytic of power that includes but is not irreducible to conventional forms of state power or governmentality. The papers assembled here aim rather to attend to the polymorphous ways in which “sovereignty” shows up in formations of racism and colonialism, as well as in the histories and practices of racialized peoples. Through an emphasis on the religious, sacred, or theological content in each case, these papers offer new pathways for theorizing at the intersections of race and sovereignty in religious studies.

Devin Singh, Dartmouth College
Obligated Flesh: Servitude, Debt, and Racialized Carceral Capitalism

Joseph Winters, Duke University
Sovereignty, Excess, and Black In/alterity

An Yountae, California State University, Northridge
Becoming Archipelago: Place, Territoriality, and the Sacred

Danube Johnson, Harvard University
Oedipus colonus at Lébos

Panashe Chigumadzi, Harvard University
Ethiopianism and the Possibilities of Black Sovereignty

Eleanor Craig, Harvard University

Faith and Power: Latina/o Religious Politics Since 1945
Monday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Convention Center-505 (Street Level)

The editors of this new volume (Felipe Hinojosa, Maggie Elmore, and Sergio Gonzalez) propose a roundtable session for AAR 2022 to discuss the historic and contemporary implications of Latina/o religious politics in the United States. Our work brings together Latina/o historians and religious studies scholars to examine histories of resistance, community formation, and immigration politics. Our roundtable focuses on the post-World War II era, a period in which we argue a formal political engagement began among Latina/o religious leaders and laity. This engagement was spurred on by contemporary civil rights movements, increased immigration from Latin America, and political movements across the Americas. Each chapter in our book engages important moments in Latina/o religious politics that are framed within the larger processes of immigration, refugee policies, deindustrialization, the rise of the religious left and right, and the Chicana/o, immigrant, and Puerto Rican civil rights movements. Our roundtable will explore religion and religious politics as part of the larger ecosystem that has shaped Latina/o communities specifically and American politics in general.

Maggie Elmore, University of California, Berkeley
Sergio Gonzalez, Marquette University
Felipe Hinojosa, Texas A&M University
Sujey Vega, Arizona State University
Jorge Rodriguez, Union Theological Seminary

Jennifer Scheper Hughes, University of California, Riverside

Daniel Ramirez, Claremont Graduate University

Religion and Democracy
Monday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 4D (Lower Level)

Presenting a broad spectrum of case studies, this session will explore the intersection of religion and democracy from a variety of angles. The first paper examines the work of the Catholic Church in a variety of African states as a window into the Church’s position on democracy and peace.  The second presents a study of politically diverse “Purple Churches” and the methods they use to unite and engage members across political divides. The third examines the potential for liberalism and democracy in Orthodox Christianity and the fourth presents the January 6 insurrection as a bellweather of the increased appeal of autocracy in the contemporary United States.

Elizabeth Sperber, University of Denver
Paige Wietzel, University of Denver
Catholicism and (the ongoing) Struggle for Democracy in Africa: Presenting a New Archive of Church Documents and Qualitative Analysis

Elizabeth Gish, Kettering Foundation
Sarah Taylor Peck, Community Christian Church, North Canton, Ohio
Purple Churches and Democratic Hope

Paul Ladouceur, University of Toronto
Orthodox Critiques and Affirmations of Liberalism and Democracy

Jeffrey Meyers, DePaul University
Theology Defending Democracy: Lessons From Around the World

Terrence Johnson, Harvard University

Religion and Nation Beyond Nationalism
Monday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Convention Center-304 (Street Level)

This session brings together scholarship that critically considers the relation of religion and nation, while moving beyond nationalism as a taken-for-granted (and often exceptionalist) framework for that consideration.

Adam Waters, Yale University
Liberation Theology as Christian Left Internationalism: Father Sergio Torres and the “Theology in the Americas” Project

Johanna Mueller, Stanford University
American Nationalism and the Early Foreign Missions Movement

Kristina Reinis, Harvard University
Redefining Bercovitch’s Jeremiad: Maria W. Stewart and the formation of the African and Female Jeremiad

Laura McTighe, Florida State University

Heather D. Curtis, Tufts University

Friendship, Ethics, Theology, and the Pursuit of Justice
Monday, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Convention Center-601 (Street Level)

This panel explores the interrelatedness of themes of friendship and justice within various writings and traditions. Friends from varying cultural and religious traditions draw on diverse resources in the pursuit of justice. Allen Jorgenson explores friendship as a resource for a political theology that sees the church and state in relationship as loci of divine revelation and justice, drawing on ethical and Indigenous insights. Anne-Marie Ellithorpe explores implications of the prophetic tradition for contemporary friends seeking to promote justice, reconciliation, and civic friendship. Justin Barringer identifies friendship as a foundation for acting together for justice. Hussam Timani engages in a comparative exploration of friendship with God in two religious traditions.

Allen G. Jorgenson, Wilfrid Laurier University
Friendship, Ethics, and Indigenous Insights

Justin Barringer, Southern Methodist University
A Quaker and an Atheist Walk into a Revolution: Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph’s Civic Friendship and Economic Justice

Anne-Marie Ellithorpe, Vancouver School of Theology
Friendship and the Prophetic Tradition: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hussam S. Timani, Christopher Newport University
The Friends of God in Islam: Why Biblical Figures Matter

Laura Duhan-Kaplan, Vancouver School of Theology

The Political Implications of Comparative Theology
Tuesday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Convention Center-302 (Street Level)

The papers of this panel analyze specific examples where comparative theological analysis highlights political aspects of resonant practices from diverse religious traditions. While previous comparative theological studies involving politics typically have centered on the broad issue of the political implications of comparative theology itself (i.e., as a discipline), the papers of this panel pursue a more focused inquiry at the intersection of politics and comparative theology. Specifically, they examine the political dimensions which emerge when comparing specific practices and traditions across multiple religions. Such practices include normative understandings and traditions involving “saints” in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; perceptions and practices of women’s ordination in Christian and Hindu traditions; and compelled self-naming in Christian and Buddhist texts. United by their common attention to political aspects and implications, the four papers of this panel advance comparative theology by showing how it elucidates resonant political dimensions among the practices of diverse religious traditions.

Hans Harmakaputra, Hartford International University
Worldly Saint, Political Saint: Revisiting the Christian Notion of Holiness

David Maayan, Boston College
Metaphysical Politics: Constructing the Devotional Self in Early Hasidic Judaism and the Pauline Epistles

Katie Mahowski Mylroie, Boston College
The Politics of Women Priests: Gender in the Catholic and Hindu Priesthoods

Joseph Kimmel, Harvard University
“What is Your Name?”: Names Comparatively Compelled in Christian and Buddhist Texts

Ha Young Kang, Drew University
Hearing Voices: Pathology or a Path Toward Religious Authority of Women?

Bin Song, Washington College

Lucinda Mosher, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace

Thanks to Tristan Mitchell for compiling this list and to Laura Simpson for bringing it to publication.

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