NEW KEYNOTERS FOR 2015
J. Kameron Carter (@jkameroncarter)
J. Kameron Carter (Duke Divinity School) works in black studies (African American and African Diaspora studies), using theological and religious studies concepts, critical theory and increasingly poetry to do so. Driving his work are questions pertaining to the theory and practice of blackness, indeed, of blackness as an otherwise pedagogy of the sacred that the black church (at its best) expresses.
In pursuing this research, Professor Carter, on the one hand, examines how Christian theological ideas, especially christological ideas (claims about the person and work of Jesus Christ) and notions of theological anthropology (the Christian construction of the human), have funded racial, gendered, sexual, colonial, and settler imaginaries, and how the secular only amplifies (it doesn’t overcome) modernity’s theological protocols. On the other hand, Professor Carter studies those aesthetic, literary, and philosophical expressions that reveal blackness as nonexclusionary life that unsettles modernity’s theological constitution, as that which moves ‘paratheologically’ both within modernity’s theo-political constraints and yet out from and to the side of that frame, in its breaks, the out/side. Churchical, ecumenical blackness is his object of study.
His book Race: A Theological Account appeared in 2008 (New York: Oxford UP). He is near completion of his next book, God’s Property: Blackness and the Problem of Sovereignty.
Sandhya Jha (@pastorsandhya)
The Rev. Sandhya Jha serves as founder and director of the Oakland Peace Center, a collective of 40 organizations creating access, opportunity and dignity for all in Oakland and the Bay Area. She also serves as Director of Interfaith Programs for East Bay Housing Organizations, where she organizes faith communities to advocate for housing as a human right and spiritual mandate throughout California’s Bay Area. Former pastor of First Christian Church of Oakland and former regional staff with Christian Churches of Northern California-Nevada, Sandhya is the author of Room at the Table, the history of people of color in the Disciples of Christ, and Pre-Post-Racial America, which was released in April by Chalice Press and named by Publisher’s Weekly as a top-five book to read on race relations in the United States. She serves as a consultant with Hope Partnership and a core organizer trainer with Reconciliation Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is particularly proud of her podcast, Hope from the Hood, available on iTunes and at sandhyajha.com.
Many thanks to the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, Speingfield NAACP and National Avenue Christian Church for sponsoring her talk, which as this year’s Community Forum will be free and open to the public.
Catherine Keller is Professor of Constructive Theology at the Theological School of Drew University. In her teaching, lecturing and writing, she develops the relational potential of a theology of becoming. Her books reconfigure ancient symbols of divinity for the sake of a planetary conviviality—a life together, across vast webs of difference. Thriving in the interplay of ecological and gender politics, of process cosmology, poststructuralist philosophy and religious pluralism, her work is both deconstructive and constructive in strategy. She is currently finishing Cloud of the Impossible: Theological Entanglements, which explores the relation of mystical unknowing, material indeterminacy and ontological interdependence.
Keller has taught since 1986 in the Theological and Philosophical Studies Area of Drew’s Graduate Division of Religion. After studies in Heidelberg and in seminary, she did her doctoral work at Claremont Graduate University with John B. Cobb Jr., and remains involved with the Center for Process Studies. Through her leadership of the Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium since its inception in 2000, she fosters with colleagues and graduate students a hospitable context for its far reaching annual conversations.
Alton B. Pollard
Alton B. Pollard, III, is Dean and Professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. He holds degrees from Fisk University (BA with honors in religion and philosophy and business management), Harvard University Divinity School (MDiv), and Duke University, Department of Religion (PhD). His previous faculty appointments include St. Olaf College, Wake Forest University, Emory University where he was Director of Black Church Studies at Candler School of Theology and Chair of American Religious Cultures in the Graduate Division of Religion (PhD program), and various visiting lectureships throughout the United States and Africa.
Dr. Pollard has published widely in the areas of religion and culture. He is the author of Mysticism and Social Change; edited a new edition of W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro Church; and Helpers for a Healing Community: A Pastoral Care Manual for HIV/AIDS in Africa; editor of How Long This Road; co-editor of The Black Church Studies Reader (forthcoming); consulting editor for the multi-volume Papers of Howard Thurman; and former associate editor of the journal Black Sacred Music. He is Principal Investigator for the Lilly-funded research project, “Equipping the Saints: Promising Practices in Black Congregational Life.” An ordained Baptist minister, he has served churches in Tennessee (AME), Massachusetts and North Carolina. He is an associate minister at Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, DC, as well as board member and consultant to numerous organizations. He has preached, lectured and traveled throughout Africa and the Diaspora. He and his wife Jessica Bryant Pollard, a high school counselor, have two adult children.
Dr. Pollard specializes in the following areas: African American Religion and Culture, Sociology of Religion, Black Church Studies, Theological Education and Leadership, Faith and Health, American Religious Cultures.
Mayra Rivera Rivera
Mayra Rivera Rivera is the Associate Professor of Theology and Latina/o Studies at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). She joined the HDS faculty in July 2010. Her transdisciplinary work in critical theological studies engages key Christian themes in relation to current theory and philosophy. Her book The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God (2007) explores the relationship between models of divine otherness and ideas about interhuman difference. She is also co-editor, with Stephen Moore, of Planetary Loves: Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology (2010) and, with Catherine Keller and Michael Nausner, of Postcolonial Theologies: Divinity and Empire (2004). Her most recent book, Poetics of the Flesh, explores the connections between theological, philosophical, and political metaphors of body and flesh. It will be published in Fall 2015.
Sarah Morice Brubaker (@smoricebrubaker)
Sarah Morice-Brubaker is an Assistant Professor of theology at Phillips Theological Seminary, and a frequent contributor Religion Dispatches (www.religiondispatches.org). Her doctoral dissertation, The Place of the Spirit: Trinity and Location, was published by Wipf and Stock (2013). She authored a chapter in Reading Theologically, edited by Eric Barreto (Fortress, 2014); and an essay in Mark Dixon and Forrest Clingerman, ed., Placing Nature on the Borders of Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics (Ashgate, 2010). Her writing has also appeared in Salon, This Land, Geez Magazine, and The Christian Century. Under a pseudonym, she was a regular blogger for a popular feminist blog that received ten million hits in the three years it ran. She is a co-chair of the Liberal Theologies Group for The American Academy of Religion and a member of the steering committee for the Westar Institute’s Seminar on God and the Human Future. She has a BA in religious studies from Yale, a Master of Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School, and a PhD in theology from the University of Notre Dame.
RETURNING KEYNOTERS FOR 2015
John D. Caputo
John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities Emeritus at Syracuse University, is back for his third appearance at Subverting the Norm. He is a hybrid philosopher/theologian intent on producing thoughts which circulate between philosophy and theology, short-circuits which deny fixed and rigorous boundaries between philosophy and theology. Caputo treats “sacred” texts as a poetics of the human condition, or as a “theo-poetics,” a poetics of the event harbored in the name of God. His past books have attempted to persuade us that hermeneutics goes all the way down (Radical Hermeneutics), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology (The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida), and that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, following St. Paul, The Weakness of God. He has also addressed wider-than-academic audiences in On Religion, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, and Truth. His highly-anticipated and much-heralded The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps was released last year.
Namsoon Kang (@NamsoonK)
Namsoon Kang is Professor of World Christianity and Religions at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University. Her most recent book is Diasporic Feminist Theology (Fortress, 2014). She is also the author of Cosmopolitan Theology: Reconstituting Planetary Hospitality, Neighbor-Love, and Solidarity in an Uneven World (Chalice Press, 2013), which proposes that cosmopolitan theology crosses borders of gender, race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability. Kang offers a vision of a global community of radical inclusion, solidarity, and deep compassion and justice for others. Blending theology with philosophy, she crosses borders of academism and activism, and the discursive borders of modernism, postmodernism, feminism, and postcolonialism. Cosmopolitan Theology sheds a new light both in academia and the community of Christian believers by providing a public relevance of Jesus’ teaching of neighbor-love, hospitality, and solidarity in our world today.
Before she joined Brite in 2006, she taught on the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Methodist Theological University, Korea. She has been actively involved in various international ecumenical organizations and movements, and was a plenary speaker at the WCC 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2006. She studied in Korea, Germany, and the United States, earning her Ph.D. from Drew University. She is currently the president of WOCATI (World Conference of Associations of Theological Institutions). Writing in both Korean and English, her most recent publications include The Handbook of Theological Education in World Christianity (Co-edited), “Constructing Postcolonial Mission in World Christianity,” “Out of Places: Asian Feminist Theology of Dislocation,” and “Towards a Cosmopolitan Theology: Constructing Public Theology from the Future.”
Katharine Sarah Moody (@ksmoody)
Katharine Sarah Moody (PhD Religious Studies, Lancaster University, UK, 2010) is an independent scholar working at the intersection of philosophy, theology and the study of lived religion. She is particularly interested in the generative relationships between radical theology and emerging Christianity. Her most recent post was Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool, where she worked as part of the Philosophy and Religious Practices Research Network, and she is currently seeking funding to study the political potential of religious practices that draw on ‘the theological turn’ in continental philosophy and ‘the turn to Paul’ in political philosophy.
Her books include Radical Theology and Emerging Christianity: Deconstruction, Materialism and Religious Practices (Ashgate, forthcoming 2015); Post-Secular Theology and the Church: Truth, Tradition, Transformation? (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming); A/Theism: A New Kind of Christian as A New Kind of Atheist (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming); and Intensities: Philosophy, Religion and the Affirmation of Life (Ashgate, 2012; co-edited with Steven Shakespeare). She will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2015 Association for Continental Philosophy of Religion conference, ‘Political Theology: The Liberation of the Postsecular?’ (July 10-12).
Peter Rollins (@peterrollins)
Peter Rollins is a provocative writer, philosopher, storyteller and public speaker who has gained an international reputation for overturning traditional notions of religion and forming “churches” that preach the Good News that we can’t be satisfied, that life is difficult, and that we don’t know the secret. Challenging the idea that faith concerns questions relating to belief Peter’s incendiary and irreligious reading of Christianity attacks the distinction between sacred and secular, blurs the lines between theism and atheism and sets aside questions regarding life after death to explore the possibility of a life before death. Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast and has earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He is the author of numerous books, including Insurrection, The Idolatry of God, and The Divine Magician. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, currently lives in Los Angeles and will die somewhere as yet not known.