Topics for 2022 TWW/AAR Panels

The following topics have been proposed for 2022 TWW panels.  Let us know which topics interest you.    

Evil:  At the 2021 meeting, considerable interest was expressed about this topic. It is one of the Big Questions that concerns the religious and non-religious alike. We would need to narrow the discussion to some type of evil or aspect of evil that provokes difficult issues, not just something we all agree is evil, e.g., genocide. Cases presented in literature (Macbeth, Raskolnikov, Grandcourt), where they are portrayed with the array of motivations and circumstances that invite subtle attention.  

Dualisms and Nondualisms:  Nondualism is a source of persistent fascination and import.  Dualism is out of favor, but Michelle Voss Robert’s Dualities presents a sensitively considered alternative, developed from female thinkers and with attention to the female body, e.g., mother and unborn child. It is important not just to take a stand on one side of the divide but to consider the reasons for the framing of various kinds of dualism and nondualism.

Wisdom and Philosophy as a Way of Life: There is a tendency to think of theologies and philosophies as theories or intellectual visions, but Pierre Hadot has reminded us that the ancient Western philosophers gathered in communities devoted to ways of living and their writings were almost manuals for the practice of wisdom. Might these concepts have particular value for transreligious theology?

Spiritual Discernment: This topic generated considerable interest at the last meeting.  In comparison to confessional theologies, TWW does not have a formulated set of criteria or guidelines for spiritual discernment. Yet, beyond the walls, there is a heightened need for epistemic care.  Perhaps insights from the traditions can be adapted to the needs of persons whose theologizing is not restricted to a tradition. Perhaps there are other standards, drawn from spiritual experience itself, that could be articulated.

In addition, Jerry Martin suggested a panel on John Thatamanil’s Circling the Elephant: A Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity. Discussion might focus on the culminating chapter (ch. 7) where he approaches the metaphysical question by exploring three types of ontological wonder, which point to God as Ground, Singularity, and Relation. The three traits connect an illuminating ways with Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism, and can also be seen as articulated, within a Christian framework, by the Trinity. This argument relates interestingly to the triadic vision of Perry Schmidt-Leukel’s Gifford Lectures.  

Finally, the Comparative Theology Group is surveying interest in a joint panel:  “Collaboration on method with the Theology Without Walls Unit.”  The contact person is Catherine Cornille.  We look forward to the outcome of their survey. If it is positive, then we could add a third panel to our usual program.  Meanwhile, please let us know if this, or topics above, are of special interest to you.

As an independent group, TWW does not have to abide by the AAR schedule. However, we should be forming these panels soon. We look forward to hearing from you.

 Warm regards,

Jerry Martin, John Thatamanil, Jeffrey Long

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