With immense gratitude to Dr. John Thatamanil for the invitation, I’d like to share a talk that I gave last week at Union Theological Seminary in New York (well, virtually in New York). The talk explains some of the theoretical skeleton that holds the book, Inner Animalities together. After a 25 minute monologue, John Thatamanil and I talk for a while about the theological claims and moves that the book works out.
In a few weeks (September 20-22), I’ll be participating in a conference at the University of Fairfield. The conference will discuss the politics, traditions, and possibilities of theology’s future. My paper rather narrowly addresses these questions by focusing on solidarity and subsidiarity: for whom and with whom does theology have a future? And, as you might have guessed, my answer to that question is not confined to a single hominid species.
In short, my argument is that solidarity and subsidiarity with poor and marginalized communities is always undermined by the exclusion of animality from theological consideration. I’m eagerly anticipating a weekend of conversation with friends and colleagues.
Over the weekend, I was in Pittsburgh for the annual meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The theme of the conference this year was “Another World is Possible: Violence, Resistance, and Transformation,” a timely and important central theme chosen by current CTSA President Maria Pilar Aquino.
I gave a paper in the Anthropology section working through some ideas around human dignity, violence, and the boundary between humanity and animality. My paper was titled, “The Recursive Violence of Human Dignity: Rethinking Creaturely Dignity as Vulnerability and Struggle.” In the time span between proposing the presentation and writing the paper, I shifted from vulnerability and struggle toward the concepts of shame and gentleness, which bear some relation in my mind.
I’ll be writing this up at greater length for an upcoming issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, so these ideas will see the light of day for a broader audience.
I’ve recently been given the unspeakably wonderful gift of extended intellectual engagement with my writing in the form of a book event organized and hosted at An und für sich. I’ve collected links for all the posts in the event below.
The book has been out for a few months now, but I’ve yet to make an announcement here. Divinanimality: Animal Theory, CreaturelyTheology came out of Drew University’s Transdisciplinary Theology Conference. The handsome book was edited by Stephen Moore (of Drew University) and features a range of essays. Personal highlights for me were the chapters written by Denise Kimber Buell, Beatrice Marovich, and Stephen Moore. I am honored to have a chapter in the volume: “The Logos of God and the End of Humanity: Giorgio Agamben and the Gospel of John on Animality as Light and Life.” Working from the prologue to John’s gospel, my chapter argues for an understanding of the incarnation that undermines anthropological exceptionalism rather than supporting it. In other words, I am working to refute the notion—heard commonly enough in Christian circles—that human beings are the most important creatures on earth because God became human. I engage briefly with Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus along the way. I also venture a more synthetic reading of Derrida and Agamben on “the animal question” than is normal in critical animal theory circles.
One of the benefits of posting this announcement a bit late is that I can link to a blog post by Adam Roberts on my essay. His summary is accurate and his critical questions are on target, so far as I am concerned. I have a response posted in the comments. He has a few other posts on the volume, which can be found here.