The College Theology Society

 Serving Church and Academy Since 1954

Comparative Theology

2021 Call for Papers


Mara Brecht, Loyola University Chicago (IL)

mbrecht@luc.edu


Axel M. Oaks Takacs, Seton Hall University (NJ)

takacsax@shu.edu


The Comparative Theology Section invites papers that explore the 2021 College Theology Society conference theme of “The Human in a Dehumanizing World: Re-Examining Theological Anthropology and Its Implications”. This section is particularly interested in proposals on the following questions and topics:

  • Theological anthropology has been a rich topic within the field of comparative and interreligious theology. What the human person is, and how the human person is to exist, with respect to God, self, and others are arguably the single most important questions raised by the various religious and cultural traditions across the globe. Broadly, the Christian tradition answers these questions through various interpretations of important theological terms, concepts, and practices, such as, inter alia, imago Deiimitatio Christi, the communion of Saints, Eucharistic communion, and negative or unitive theological anthropologies of mystical traditions. How do non-Christian theological anthropologies challenge or illuminate these anthropological sources of the Christian tradition?
  • Theological anthropologies often imply theological epistemologies: how we know is a reflection of who we are, or vice versa. How might comparative or interreligious theology provide novel ways of knowing that disrupt our reliance on a certain version of European Enlightenment rationality (the human as the supremely rational animal)? In this way, comparative or interreligious theology has an opportunity to decolonize our theological anthropologies and epistemologies and offer something radically liberating. How so?
  • Khyati Joshi, in White Christian Privilege, has argued that US society values and privileges White, Christian residents over non-White or non-Christian residents. In theological anthropology terms, one can say that White, Christian members of the United States are “more human” than non-White or non-Christian members. In the US context, Whiteness and Christianity dehumanize BIPOC and non-Christian members of society. How can one responsibly and ethically do comparative or interreligious theology in this context of asymmetrical power relations? How can one avoid appropriating and colonizing other non-Christian religious and cultural traditions in the process? Or, how can comparative theology seek to undo this unjust and unequal power dynamic that exists in the US Context?
  • Ideologies, systems, and structures that perpetuate dehumanization have their own tacit theological anthropologies, an unspoken understanding of what it means to be human in any given society, community, nation, corporation, ethnicity, race, and so on. White supremacy, exploitative capitalism, xenophobia, cisnormativity, heteronormativity, meritocracy, individualism, and so on—each possesses an anthropology that is in sharp contradiction to not only Christian theological anthropology, but non-Christian and especially indigenous religious and cultural traditions. How does comparative or interreligious theology provide fresh insights into not only uncovering these unspoken anthropologies but also subverting them? How might new anthropologies be imagined that radically transform what it means to be human-in-relation and -in-community?
  • In particular, we see the prevalence of neoliberalism and the dominance of data and technology in organizing our lives to be constructing a new human person. For example, as Wendy Brown has argued (Undoing Demos), humans are no longer homo sapiens, but we are homo oeconimicus. We could add to that: humans in our current economic systems are no longer made in the image of God, but in the image of the economy: from imago Dei to imago oeconimici.  Similarly, our lives are now being structured, ordered, and managed by data and technology, and so our ability to flourish is being restricted by a technological corporatocracy. How might comparative or interreligious theology provide a way out of this oppressive ideology? 

As always, this section invites papers that consider the implications of the conference theme for college teaching. Proposals outside of the conference theme but still related to comparative or interreligious theology, theology of religions, or interreligious dialogue are welcome.

 

Proposals should be 250-500 words in length and include one’s current institutional affiliation and position. Proposals should be emailed to both conveners by January 15, 2021. Scholars will be notified of the status of their proposals by mid-February.

The College Theology Society is a registered, non-profit professional society and a Related Scholarly Organization of the American Academy of Religion.

Email: secretary@collegetheology.org

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