EI Call for Papers for November 2022, Denver
Catastrophe in the Life of the Church
Many discussions of catastrophe as a dimension of religious studies or theological analysis focus on public events which religious communities must interpret or to which they must respond: how do theologians, religious leaders, lay adherents, and others, make sense out of (for example) climate change, political upheaval, or a public tragedy?
Without ignoring such considerations, we hope with this session to engage in a more specifically ecclesiological conversation on catastrophe as an internal dynamic of Christian communities confronted with realities that obligate profound soul-searching and transformation. Reflecting on the sense of catastrophe as a sudden overturning (kata-strephein) of things as they are, we are interested in papers that reflect substantial research on catastrophic transitional moments in the life of churches – whether these moments are historical or contemporary, and whether they take place on the macro-scale of denominational emergence/collapse or on the micro-scale of individuals confronting terrible loss or betrayal in a religious community. We intend to pay particular attention to, and bring into the foreground the voices of, historically catastrophized groups: those whose integrity as a community or subculture is grounded in tragedy and endures in the face of continuing (accidental or intentional) disaster.
Theologies of Ecclesial Dialogue, Discernment, and Consensus-Building
Dialogue is a longstanding component of ecclesial praxis, especially in recent years in the ecumenical movement and in other areas of inter- and intra-ecclesial relations. Various contemporary events and movements have restored focus upon dialogue, discernment, and consensus-building in the Christian churches. Most prominently, in 2021 Pope Francis launched a worldwide, two-year process of ecclesial discernment in the Roman Catholic Church in preparation for the 2023 Synod on Synodality. At the same time, in 2022, other major dialogical moments in worldwide Christianity will take place: the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the 15th Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in England. And, at various local levels, dialogue within and between churches occurs in a broad variety of ways, both formal and informal, and in ways that are often countercultural in contexts marked by polarization, division, and a lack of dialogue. Dialogue and consensus-building seem to many Christians a part of the nature of the church and not an optional practice.
We invite papers that attend to theologies of ecclesial dialogue, discernment, and consensus-building, drawing upon concrete experiences and events of such processes, and exploring ecclesiologies of dialogue and shared discernment based upon those experiences and events. We are interested in papers related to issues of local, global, and historical synodality, conciliarity, dialogue, decision-making processes, consensus-building, or shared discernment. Discussions of liberative ecclesial dialogue in light of the ways that such dialogue is hampered by divisions based on clerical status, geographical location, gender and racial differences, or colonial and post-colonial power imbalances are particularly welcome.