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Special seminars

ALC welcomes distinguished visitors to the campus, who share their latest research in theology.

Presenter: Dr Eric Trozzo

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

Seminar 1

  • Topic: Cyberspace as a dimension of life: a Tillichian analysis of digital infrastructure
  • 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.
  • Delivered: Tuesday 17 September 2019
  • View the video:  Seminar 1: Cyberspace as a dimension of life

Seminar 2

  • Topic: Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects as an extension of eco-theological object relations
  • 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.
  • Delivered: Thursday 26 September 2019
  • View the video: Seminar 2: Hyperobjects and eco-theology