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Featured research

View featured research in theology from distinguished visitors to the ALC campus and ALC’s senior researchers.

Professor Wendy Mayer

(Associate Dean for Research, ALC; Dean of Research Strategy, University of Divinity)

Topic Patristics and the 21st Century in Conversation
Presented
Saturday 18 April 2020
Video Patristics and the 21st Century in Conversation
Abstract In the 21st century, across universities, theological schools, and countries, Patristics as an academic discipline is under pressure. The increasing secularism of western countries, the pressures of business- and vocationally-driven educational models, a deep suspicion of institutionalised religion in the wake of nation-wide sex-abuse scandals, and fundamentalist movements are all having their impact. Here Prof. Mayer argues that these same factors are in fact an opportunity for re-energising and re-investing in the field. A case can be made to governments, society and university or college administrators that Patristics is relevant and has something vital to contribute. Her own experience, gained through working in a collegiate university comprised of 11 theological schools, is that application of a Patristic lens to contemporary religious and social challenges can prove particularly fruitful. In her work, she is continually encouraged to bring her research on the society, psychology and culture of early Christianity and Patristics into intersection with the 21st-century world.

Dr Eric Trozzo

(Director, Lutheran Study Centre, Sabah Theological Seminary, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)

Topic Cyberspace as a dimension of life: a Tillichian analysis of digital infrastructure
Presented
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Video Seminar 1: Cyberspace as a dimension of life
Abstract The challenge of describing cyberspace ontologically is a vexing one. Some early theorists framed it as a disembodied realm of Platonic forms, while others argued that it is simply a group of physical computers with data inscribed on physical hard drives that happen to be able to communicate with one another. More recent studies, recognising both streams of thought, have begun to focus not only on screened content but rather a wider range of implicated systems, including electronic infrastructures, power supplies, maintenance workers, and the ways it shapes users' affect. Given this broader understanding of cyberspace, this paper argues that it meets the criteria laid out by Paul Tillich for determining a new dimension of life. If it is a dimension of life, then by Tillich’s concept of the interpenetration of dimensions, cyberspace is also then a locus for a unique manifestation of the dimension of Spirit, thus calling forth the need for new metaphors for speaking of the divine within the experience of cyberspace.
Topic Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects as an extension of eco-theological object relations
Presented Thursday 26 September 2019
Video Seminar 2: Hyperobjects and eco-theology
Abstract Much modern Protestant theology is significantly influenced by Martin Buber’s concept of the ‘I-You’ relationship. While this philosophical framework is helpful for accounting for a personal encounter with other humans and with the divine, it is less helpful in attributing intrinsic value to the more-than-human world. In response to this deficiency, Lutheran theologian and eco-theology pioneer H. Paul Santmire has suggested the addition of the ‘I-Ens’ relationship, which values objects without either instrumentalising or personalising the object. This paper argues this addition is still insufficient because it frames too sharp a distinction between subjects and objects and does not account for larger-scale natural forces. The paper thus argues for employing contemporary eco-critic Timothy Morton’s concept of ‘hyperobjects’ as a means of enfolding and expanding both Buber’s and Santmire’s object relations theories into a broader concept of object relations for theological use.