I spent a couple of years in this job avoiding the word theology. It’s all so….so theist. Not me at all. I like my philosophy and thinking those deep thoughts: Kant, Rorty, Habermas. You know? Philosophers. Real philosophers. Conversations about theology were beyond me because it meant talking about God-things and I can’t be having any of that. Theology was like philosophy’s older brother, so uncool and a fan of prog-rock. He’ll never understand what we know. As a friend of the cooler, younger sibling, I know that to engage in fantastically literate conversations (or ‘discourses’ if you will) is the valued currency of the post-’68 generation. This currency buys you the black turtleneck and the aspiration toward the life of Alain de Botton. It might even buy me into the cooler circles where supplicant women look on holding just-lit Gitanes while the men practice their verbal homoeroticisms on each other.
But what is theology then and what is a theologian? Katharine Sarah Moody is one and she is a doctoral student at Lancaster University. Katharine blogs about her studies and interdisciplinarianism. She will by giving a paper at a conference to be held here in Maynooth early next month. This is how she introduces her paper:
By nature, religious studies departments nurture young students of religion. These students might draw their markers of self-identity from any of the disciplines such departments incorporate. They might be(come) sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, textual scholars, scholars of culture, politics, sexuality, or gender. Perhaps, theologians. In my interdisciplinary doctoral studies…I balked whenever my supervisor either described my work as theology or suggested that I might even “be” a theologian.
Details of the conference can be found both on facebook and Francis (one of the organisers) the organisers also tweet about it. I’ll be there and I’m not a theologian; until we begin to engage with what we think makes us uncomfortable, we know very little about ourselves. Otherwise it’s all just another way of talking among our cooler, Gitanes-smoking selves.