November 18-20 // San Antonio, Texas
CALL FOR PAPERS 2021
Theme: "World Disrupted, World Revealed--
Ecology and Theology in an Age of Pandemic"
“When a large disturbance shakes a complex system, the weakest parts of the system collapse first” (Gorbis). Such evidence can be seen as the COVID-19 virus impacted the most vulnerable within society—the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions. Likewise, the pandemic exposed the fragility of social, economic, and political institutions, such as the brokenness of the healthcare system, racial injustice and economic inequality, to brittle supply chains, climate threats, political corruption, all of which has unraveled our social fabric. Indeed, if pandemic has revealed anything, it is the global interconnectedness of all things, and the instability of seeming certainty. Conversely, and more positively, pandemic has shed light on the ingenuity of human creativity in devising a vaccine and the resiliency of community to overcome.
This pandemic must ultimately be placed in a wider context, an ecological and theological one. Ecology and theology share a unique connection. Ecology is not only a branch of biology concerned with how organisms interact with their environment, in its broadest sense ecology (oikos) is the science of relationships. This includes both scientific as well as human ecology. As for theology (theos), Scripture is steeped in ecological language from Genesis to Revelation, from the creation narratives to the prophetic hope of a world restored. These narratives are about relationships: Yahweh as the God who is always in relationship, the One who is with us and all of creation.
Though the COVID-19 virus is still in its infancy, we already know that pandemic is far too complex to be naively conceived as a manageable problem. Nevertheless, it has afforded us a “strange stillness” for reflection, “to consider our broken relationship with the natural world, and our alienation from a deeper sense of purpose and meaning” (Hampton & Thiessen). Whether the cosmos is careening towards collapse or transformation, placing oikos and theos into respective discourse (logia) with each other is not only long overdue within Adventist theology, but paramount if there is any hope of the latter. To not address pandemic as a community of religious scholars would be to miss a moment of opportunity.
The 2021 ASRS conference theme thus spotlights the oft-neglected intersection of ecology and theology. Paper proposals for the 42nd annual conference is encouraged within the domain of any religious area and method including, but not limited to, biblical, textual, historical, cultural, doctrinal, philosophical, spiritual, missiological, social, and ethical. Proposals advancing a constructive thesis will be given preference over merely descriptive treatments. With this in mind, inter/cross/trans-disciplinary conversations with other fields of study are strongly encouraged to further define and explore concepts and practices in a more holistic way that honors human wholeness. This type of collaboration and dialogue can also shed light on gaps within the realms of religion, theology, and Adventism.
Papers proposals should have a working title and not exceed 200 words in length. The deadline for submission is March 31, 2021. Proposals should be sent to Anne Collier-Freed (Anne.Collier-Freed@kc.edu) in MS Word format. Notifications regarding proposals will go out in May 2021. Presenters are limited to twenty minutes for presentation (approximately 2,500-words), with additional time for questions and discussion of the paper. Presenters are expected to submit a complete draft of the paper by November 1, 2021. It is yet to be decided whether the conference will be held in person, online, or a combination of the two. For this reason, all presenters should be prepared to potentially video record her/his presentation in the event of a virtual conference. Further details will be forthcoming as the pandemic is a fluid reality.