On the morning of Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Starr King School for the Ministry hosted Thinking Out Loud: An Experimental Colloquium on Freedom, Destiny, and Authenticity. It was a special opportunity for the SKSM community to hear and celebrate recent academic work from three members of its accomplished faculty.
Presenters included the Rev. Dr. Meg Richardson (Interim Dean of Faculty), the Rev. Chris Schelin (Dean of Students, Director of Contextual Education, Assistant Professor of Practical and Political Theologies), and Dr. Andrea Vestrucci (SKSM Research Scholar). SKSM President Rosemary Bray McNatt added a closing benediction.
“The Colloquium on Tuesday was an experiment,” explained Dr. Richardson. “Before there was Symposium, there was Colloquium, and distinguished speakers would be brought together at Starr King, like a conference. We don’t often have an opportunity to celebrate the research of our faculty and research scholars, and hear it for ourselves, so this seemed like a great opportunity to bring this knowledge into our community.”
Watch the full colloquium here. The times for each speaker are listed below.
[00:00:00] F.W. Newman in the Ottoman Empire: Journey Towards Freedom of the Multi-Textured, Multi-Layered Authentic Self
By The Rev. Dr. Meg Richardson
A tribute to Ibrahim Farajajé, this paper explored Francis William Newman’s conversion from Evangelical Anglican Christianity to a faith resembling modern Unitarian Universalism. In 1830-1833, Newman gave up the prestige of an Oxford Fellowship to travel to the Ottoman Empire with an eclectic group of Plymouth Brethren. At one point, he was left for dead after being stoned for distributing Bibles near Antep: Newman later commented that if he had actually died, he would have been considered a Christian martyr. Instead Newman lived to write “Why Do I Not Call Myself A Christian?” which is in the Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism, required reading by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
Based on a chapter from the Rev. Schelin’s upcoming dissertation, The Contestable Church: southern Baptist Ecclesiology in Conversation with Radical Democracy, this presentation was essentially an exploration of comparative theological and philosophical anthropology; namely, conceptions about the nature of the human person that justify democratic polity. “Now we’re in a state of so-called mature democracy,” he explained, “where we’ve taken it as axiomatic that all citizens are intrinsically capable of involving themselves in the political process… So what is the understanding of the human person that allows or requires the modern belief in an emancipated populace?”
[1:45:46] Freedom, Destiny, Predestination: Theology and Aesthetics
By Dr. Andrea Vestrucci
Dr. Andrea Vestrucci offered a reflection on the relationship between freedom and the theological concept of predestination. His thesis, in essence, was that it is possible to think of the connection between freedom and predestination only in terms of a connection between theological and aesthetic language. “I think that from this parallel one can formulate a theological way of thinking about freedom, which is not the self-election of one’s own destiny, but the submission of the now. The possibility to concede myself as the object of election is a form of freedom because it is a consequence of God’s freedom of electing me.”
Next month, Starr King will celebrate the work of another research scholar, Dr. Charles Garfield, along with Cindy Spring, at Stories from the Threshold: A Joint Book Release Celebration on May 1st.