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Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions Unit

Call for Proposals

I. Captive Consciences and Decolonizing Global Lutheran Traditions
In 1521 Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms as an excommunicated priest and doctor of the church. In defiance to ruling powers, he refused to recant his writings, in accord with a conscience captive to the Word of God; and this has been marked by some as the birth of modern era. Despite many social advancements, this has also been an age wherein we have seen the devastating and ongoing effects of the reach of colonialism and global capitalism. What are consciences captive to the word of God to do in such a time as this?
For this session we invite papers engaging post-colonial, feminist, anti-racist, intersectional, and liberationist methodologies (among others) in order to discern how a global and migrating Luther invites us to take a stand in the face of oppressive forces. We especially are interested in discerning how Lutheranism is taking shape on the ground in contesting such oppressive forces as poverty, racism, sexism, and heterosexism. How does protest emerge in a religious tradition both accused of quietism and credited, in part, with the creation of the welfare state in Northern Europe or grassroots diaconal initiatives in Latin America?
In addition to papers addressing this theme, we welcome proposals that are germane to the topic of Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions.

II. Global Lutheranisms in an Era of Virtual Communion
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ecclesial and civic activities from teaching to learning, pastoral care to worship, social gathering to work, shifted to virtual mediums. Intersecting crises intensified and exacerbated existing social inequalities and injustices . And digital communication tools raised awareness of the difficulties of housing, work, medicine, movements for social justice, various movements for societal reform, and political campaigning.
It has long been recognized that innovating technologies played a role in the communication, distribution, politics, and reception of Reformation messages. Commonly, the Guttenberg printing press is cited as having a democratizing impact that corresponded with the Biblical hermeneutical democratization of the Reformers. In the case of the pandemic, the sudden reliance on (sometimes costly) technologies for continued access to social connection, communion, education, and means for employment has exacerbated, in some circumstances, rather than equalized existing global and socio-economic inequalities. In other contexts, reliance on these technologies improved access to theological education or conversations beyond what was previously locally available.
In her book, The Virtual Body of Christ for a Suffering World, Deanna Thompson notes that, “It is not overstating the case to say that digital means of communication are revolutionizing the way humans interact with one another as well as how we produce knowledge." In light of the pandemic, its effects, and new engagement with digital technology, the MLGLT unit invites paper and panel proposals on the intersection of global Lutheran theologies and Lutheranisms with new understandings of embodiment, the virtual, digital communication, church, and real presence. Proposals could include but are not limited to:
· innovative pedagogical, liturgical, pastoral, and theological solutions to the challenges of physical isolation
· social media and a new democratization of the church
· inequalities or new accessibilities unveiled by technological access among global communions and international student bodies
· reflections on the limits and possibilities of virtual communion, as well as ways in which ecclesiology and “the church” might be freshly understood or defined
· new revelations, applications, or reflections during the global pandemic on the overlaps and differences between real, virtual, and embodied presence
· theological or other engagements with material-technological changes in society in the wake of the pandemic such as social distancing, mask-wearing, etc.

III. Interrogating Luther’s Biographers

The 500th marking of the German Reformation in 2017 also marked an increase in scholarly biographies and historiographies reconceptualizing Martin Luther. Recent projects by Scott Hendrix, Lyndal Roper, and Andrew Pettegree, for example, reframe Luther in new theological, psychological, historical, and political contexts. For this potential co-sponsored session, the Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions Unit invites papers and panel proposals that interrogate Luther’s recent biographers and historiographers. What new consensuses have emerged? What approaches are privileged in the recent rejuvenation of Luther scholarship? What themes and trends become central for Luther’s biographers? What new insights do these texts offer into Luther’s theology, either in its historical context or for constructive theological reflection today? How do contemporary ethical perspectives reshape scholarly approaches to Luther's biography?

Statement of Purpose

This Unit seeks to provide an avenue for a comprehensive conversation on both Lutheran history and thought in the global context. In so doing, it is able to draw on an immensely rich tradition that goes far beyond Lutheran parochial interests as it includes the relationship to other Christian traditions as well as cultures in the global South.

Chairs

Steering Committee Members

Method

PAPERS

Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members

Review Process Comments

This system worked well. Decision making was fair and smooth. The numeric evaluations and comments sections allow for good communication among steering committee members and chairs. as well as with the cosponsoring program unit's team. Having the chairs see the names and institutions of proposers was important in facilitating decision-making to secure a balanced composition of the presenters, to include senior scholars as well as graduate students.