AAR 2019 TWW Meeting Notes

Here are minutes from the planning session at the November 2019 AAR meeting.  We have been in touch with Pim Valkenberg and Bede Bidlack about a panel with scholars from the larger comparative and interreligious theology community commenting on Theology Without Walls: The Transreligious Imperative (Routledge 2019), with responses from some of the contributors.  Since we always have two sessions, I will be circulating ideas about the topic for the other session soon.  The minutes reflect opening discussions on that matter as well.  

Theology without Walls Planning Meeting

Marriott Marquis Hotel – Catalina Conference Room– San Diego, CA

November 23, 2019 – 5:00 pm

Presiding: Jerry L. Martin, University of Colorado

Present: Christopher Denny, St. John’s University (rapporteur); John Thatamanil, Union Theological Seminary; Jeanine Diller, University of Toledo; Kurt Anders Richardson, University of Toronto; Perry Schmidt-Leukel; University of Muenster; Rory McEntee,  Drew University; Katarzyna Tempczyk, De Gruyter Open; Abdulla Galadari, Jim Sharp, Royce Anderson, Andrew Schwartz, Center For Process Studies; Mark Banas, Marc Pugliese, St. Leo University: John Becker, Center for Process Studies; Myriam Renaud

1. The meeting began at 5:00 pm.

2. Report

Jerry Martin reminded those in attendance of the book reception the following evening (Nov. 24, 2019) from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in room Pacific 14 of the Marriott Marquis to celebrate the release of the new book Theology Without Walls: The Transreligious Imperative, edited by Jerry Martin and published by Routledge in their New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology, and Biblical Studies series.

Discussion ensued regarding ways to publicize the book.  Attendees were urged to have libraries order the book.  Particular emphasis was given to the contributions of Wesley Wildman and Robert Neville, insofar as they illustrated that the new book is not just about religious diversity, a topic that can become very abstract without further qualifications.

3. New Business

a. Ideas were solicited for a new TWW issue in the journal Open Theology.

b. Jeanine Diller informed attendees that there is no planned follow-up volume to the book Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities.

c. Jeanine Diller was asked by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to write an article on concepts of God.  She declined at the current time, and explained that she would need five additional co-authors.  The article would be 10,000 words, and she solicited co-contributors.  Diller asked how the article should be framed.  “Religious Ultimacy” was suggested as a title, although a comment about bosons was used to illustrate that naturalist approaches might not be included within such an approach.

d. Discussion ensued about how to embed TWW panels and papers in other groups at the national AAR meeting.  The Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Unit was proposed as one possible venue for TWW papers.  Rory McEntee suggested that new scholars from outside the circle of active TWW participants be invited to present at TWW sessions, in the hope that TWW’s profile could be raised through these contacts.  Further discussion prompted suggestions that TWW members attend the business meetings of various AAR sections and suggest future calls-for-papers based upon themes that overlap with Theology Without Walls. 

e. The meeting moved to a discussion of what topics should be addressed at future TWW sessions.  Soteriology, or alternatively, “human wholeness” was nominated.  Another proposal was made to engage the Global Spirituality Index.  Other proposals included

  • artificial intelligence
  • animism
  • Theology Without Walls from an anthropological perspective
  • public theology in India
  • “religious liberty” vs. the rights of a religion
  • Prohibitions against blasphemy.       

Respectfully Submitted,

Christopher Denny, Saint John’s University

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