3 October–The Influence of Augustine in Political Discourse and Public Theology

Welcome back to all participants and friends of the Theology Workshop! You are cordially invited to our first event of the year, a panel discussion co-sponsored with the Religion & Ethics Workshop:

The Influence of Augustine in Political Discourse and Public Theology 

Wednesday, October 3rd. 5:00pm-6:30pm. 

Divinity School Common Room.

A reception will follow the event (6:45pm-8:30 pm), which will double as a meet & greet reception for the two Workshops. Even if you are unable to attend the discussion, please do join us for this reception — especially if you have not yet participated in the Workshops!

Augustine of Hippo has had a veritable renaissance in modern scholarship, yet in a variety of different ways and disciplines. Together, the Religion & Ethics Workshop and the Theology Workshop are launching their programming this year by bringing together three scholars whose own work has been deeply touched by this figure. Eric Gregory (Princeton), Charles Mathewes (UVA) and Willemien Otten (University of Chicago) have recently produced influential but very different books on Augustine in the last few years. Prof. Gregory has written “Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship” and Prof. Mathewes has written “A Theology of Public Life” and “The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times.” Each will speak to the influence of Augustine on his political vision. Prof. Otten, who has recently edited The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (OGHRA), will provide context for this Augustinian renaissance, speaking to the problems of Augustine and reception.

This event precedes the third installment of the Engaged Mind Conference series: Theological Reflection and the Limits of Politics (Oct 4-5th), in which Profs. Mathewes and Gregory are participating.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Michael Le Chevallier in advance at LeChevallier@UChicago.edu

This event is the opening session of the Theology Workshop’s Autumn 2012 theme, “Theology in Public.” 

Continuing on from last year’s explorations of the textures and limits of “theology” in discourse and practice, we now turn to questions of the reciprocal influences between theologies and the forms of public space and community within which they are constituted. This is by no means a new conversation—entire journals and research centers are dedicated to public theology, and our own Divinity School history is thick with considerations of religious self-understanding and its public entanglements. It is a conversation that cuts across many degree programs and areas of study in the university.

The problems of theologies being produced and exercised in public are only becoming more prominent, however, as global, digital civil society renders ever more vivid the demands placed by societies on their religious institutions, and vice versa. It is in this context that we are soliciting presentations on topics related to the relationships between forms of religious meaning-making and the social world they inhabit. These might include but by no means are limited to questions of: (a) political theology or the convergence and divergence of political and theological commitments; (b) theology and democracy, or the intersections of religious imagination and civic rituals (e.g., this autumn, presidential candidate selection and election) (c) processes of (de)institutionalization in religious understanding and practice; (d) the position of theology in the contemporary academy; (e) secularism and the situation of religion(s) within a secular state; (f) shifting demographic trends (whether local or global) occurring within religions or eliciting religious responses; (g) theological issues around homiletics, liturgy, and prophecy (or analogues from a variety of religious traditions).

There is still room in our schedule for student presentations, and we encourage you to consider what work you have or are in the process of preparing that would contribute to this quarter’s conversation. 

We welcome papers concerned with any theological perspective or religious tradition on the above or related questions. We are particularly interested in dissertation chapters or articles being prepared for publication, but we are happy to consider other work from graduate students and faculty of the University or other institutions. Our usual procedure is to make the paper or chapter to be presented available to our participants in advance for those who would like to prepare. We will hear a 20-30 minute presentation from the author, followed by a prepared response from a fellow workshop participant and group discussion. If you would be interested in presenting, please email Aaron Hollander (athollander@uchicago.edu) or Mary Emily Duba (maryemilyduba@uchicago.edu) with a brief description of the paper.