Call for Papers: Theology of Community
Theologically Rethinking Post-Modern Societies
St. Andrew's Biblical Theological Institute
Monastery of Bose
28. September - 1. Oktober 2021
Society plays a vital role in forming human beings. All of us are to a significant degree products of the society or community in which we grew up and live. Language, culture, and other social factors inform and determine many aspects of our personality, our ways of thinking and behaviour. But also the very fact of our constant involvement in relations with other human beings, other persons, gives us a certain social dimension that cannot be erased even if we entirely leave society to live a solitary life as recluses or hermits.
At the same time, a grown-up individual living in society is expected to contribute to the common life, i.e. to participate, one way or another, in social relations in order to support and to benefit other people and the society as a whole. Theological reflection on society presupposes that the individual not only receives but also gives, i.e. develops and shares with other people the gifts God endowed him or her with. In this sense, any kind of social relations, any sphere of social life can be regarded from a theological perspective as an exchange of divine gifts between people, which reflects analogically the life of the Trinity. Even though contemporary “post-modern” society can hardly be called Christian or religious, this does not prevent us from analysing it in theological terms and categories, because such an analysis can reveal something new and important about our post-modern life. Theology should address itself to different aspects and spheres of this life, including (perhaps, first of all) the most secularized or ungodly ones, with the aim to understand how this “post-religious” society can still be part of God’s economy of salvation – and, perhaps, how salvation itself can be reinterpreted in view of our today’s post-religious situation.
Of special importance here is theological reflection on urban life, the theology of the city, as the city is the heart of both modern and post-modern civilization. The modern, “secular” city was a place where traditional ways of life and traditional social relations broke up and were transformed into new, secular types of life and social connections. But now we are witnessing the birth of a post-secular city, a “smart city” with unprecedented possibilities for its citizens to live a secure and comfortable life – but also for its authorities to control almost every aspect of this life. What does this shift from the “secular” to the “post-secular city” mean for Christianity? How can these changes in human lives and human relations be interpreted theologically?
Connected with this is another important – and more critical – point of the theological analysis of the post-modern society, namely identification of those of its tendencies which lead to the loss of many vital social and communal links and relations, especially due to the growing “virtualization” of our life. We are more and more losing the sense of belonging to a real – not virtual – community, with the related notions of solidarity, engagement, openness, self-sacrifice, etc. One of the causes of the surging of popularism that we can witness today is a distorted need of security and “belonging” connected with the fear of the other that makes us replace real community relations with virtual communication through social networks, internet messengers and the like. The recent “lockdown” all over the globe can perhaps serve as a sad but prophetic illustration of the growing atomization and virtualization of our social life. How can theology react to this challenge? Is there any way of “rediscovering” real community life, the social dimension that has always been an integral part of the human being? These are some of the issues to be discussed at the forthcoming conference.
Papers and Publication
Those who wish to present a paper should send a summary (400–500 words) by email to St. Andrew’s Institute by 1 June 2021. The Organizing Committee selects papers for the Conference and sends invitations to the speakers. The working language of the conference will be English.
Upon arrival at the conference every participant will receive summaries of all the papers and the conference programme. Papers are scheduled for 20 minutes each. Some of the papers will be published in St. Andrew’s quarterly Pages: Theology, Culture, Education. The registration form can be found on St. Andrew’s website www.standrews.ru. Registrations, summaries and papers should be sent to:
Organization and Accommodation
The Conference will assemble on Tuesday 28 September for the opening ceremony and the first session in the evening. Participants will depart after breakfast on Friday 1 October.
The Conference will be held in the well-known spiritual and academic centre, the Monastery of Bose. The organizers will provide accommodation and meals.