Seminar on God and the Human Future
15B Mezzanine Level, Convention Center
Topic: A Primer on Afro-Futurism
Presenter: Terrance Dean (Denison University)
Respondent: Michael Brandon McCormack (University of Louisville)
Reflecting on James Baldwin’s seminal essay, “The Fire Next Time” (1965), which critically and yet imaginatively challenges prevailing logics and genres that normalized discourses on white patriarchy, religious ideologies of Christianity and the Nation of Islam, as well as race relations and black identity in America, this works-in-progress considers Baldwin’s consistent resistance toward classifications, and systemic powers of oppression. This project endeavors to situate Baldwin within Afrofuturistic thought that demystifies modern ethno-class specific framings of religious piety and systemic racialized beliefs of black conformity, and reimagines race and religious nationhood. Making his own “bio-poesis” as a black gay man the de-centering trope, Baldwin unhinges the ideas of white patriarchy and religious normative identity and raises important new considerations of expressions of black identity under the guise of the monster. From the framework of Afrofuturism, this work-in-progress interprets Baldwin as an Afrofuturistic thinker whose creative and transformative re-imaginings and biographical narrations sought to transform the paradigms of race, religion and sexuality for Black persons. Evident in many of Baldwin’s works are apocalyptic themes: heaven and hell, other worldly dimensions, and post-racial and post-sexual concepts and themes. This works-in-progress is a project engaging scholarship around Baldwin’s writings on religion, race, sexuality, and futurity. Some questions under consideration are: In what ways does Baldwin see the world beyond race, including post-sex and post-gender? What futurity can be made possible for Black persons today? How did Baldwin imagine themes of freedom and liberation for Black persons in relation to the social and political paradigms of global identity and sex and religious futurity?
Topic: A Primer on Indigenous Futurism
Presenter: Mathew Arthur (Simon Fraser University)
Respondent: Terrence Dean (Denison University)
Topic: Radical Theology, Theopoetics, and the Future
Daniel Boscaljon (The Thoughtful Life Project)
Kameron Carter (Indiana University)
Jon Ivan Gill (California State University, Long Beach)
Katharine Lassiter (Chicago Theological Seminary)
Lakisha Lockhart-Rusch (Virginia Union University)
Jordan E. Miller (Bike Newport, RI)
Jeffrey W. Robbins (Lebanon Valley College)
George Schmidt (Chaplain, U.S. Navy)
Tamisha Tyler (Fuller Theological Seminary)
In previous years, this roundtable has explored the relationship between radical theology, theopoetics, and race as well as radical theology, theopoetics, and property. For this final year of the roundtable, we turn to the topic of the future, and ways that radical theology and theopoetics promote life in opposition to forms of theology predicated in death.
As various strains of radical theology have reminded us, Christian theology and its practice has been complicit in promoting a discourse of death. Soteriology is obsessed with death and an outside patriarchal figure who serves as savior, extracting us from the life that surrounds us. The fear of death includes the fear of life and spawns our sterilized (lifeless) desire to dominate and destroy the earth and damaging attitudes toward women. Tales of subduing and dominating the earth have long since gripped our theological foundation--even and especially in a secularized iteration of it--and, fueled by capitalist structures, these narratives threaten lives and livelihoods, planets and places, and creatures and wilds.
How can a radical theology birth a vital theology of life? What must a radical theology and/or theopoetics have to offer the earth that does not foreclose the possibility of a human future? What can the particular and peculiar presence of life on earth have to offer radical theology and theopoetics? How must radical theology become a resisting theology, which Jordan Miller argues “emerges from people fighting against the instruments of death, whether biological, technological, political, theological, economic, or bureaucratic”?
Rather than present papers, we engage each other conversationally around the focal point, elicited through prompts and roundtable discussion. We begin by each making a 3 minute opening statement (500 words) on the topic. We encourage each other to develop and articulate our personal theologies, informed by how our personal theologies and activism inform one another. Then we move through a series of specific questions with panelist conversation, pausing for attendee questions and comments after each round. Finally, we flip the room and let the attendees take over the conversation. This approach is consistent with the radical theoretical matrix, which attempts to break down and question hierarchies. The collaborative evolution of these prompts as focal points, instead of traditional papers with authors, enable an equal and balanced conversation.
Meeting Location: Laguna [south tower first floor], Convention Center
Topic: Varieties of Post-Theism book workshop
Presenters: Clayton Crockett, Jeffrey W. Robbins, and David Galston