It’s the end of AAR as we know it… and I feel fine

Well… another year of the American Academy of Religion conference has come and gone. This time in San Diego. As I have said, if a remake of Freaks and Geeks was put on PBS where all the kids went to grad school in Critical Theory and Media Studies, you would have an AAR conference. This year’s event went well – some good papers and some no-so-much.

Highlights? As to be expected, some of the key moments took place outside the panel discussions – connecting with folks I haven’t seen since University of Glasgow days, getting time with publishers (I have just finished a MS on critical theory and cultural identity and another on youth ministry), and relaxing with Diana. Additionally, hearing Charles Taylor reflecting on his latest tome – A Secular Age – as well some other luminaries is always a gift.

Downside? Well, I am just weary of the way religion (in my case Theology) is continually a content item for consumers rather than a transformative agent of our culture. The annual trip through the bookhall is testimony to this. I think someone needs to write a version of Jorges Louis Borges’ “The Nothingness of Personality” (from 1922) that replaces his playful overturning of the self with the cipher of the theologian : “[the theologian], as I write this, [is] only a certainty that seeks out the words that are most apt to compel your attention. That proposition and a few muscular sensations, and the sight of the limpid branches that the trees place outside my window, constitute my current [CV].” OK… that is a bit cynical and brash… but there you go.

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