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Drew Theological School Hosts 19th Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium

Scholars and students examine the relationship of religion to economy, ecology and democracy.

November 2020 – Scholars and students dove deep into the relationship of religion to economy, ecology and democracy at the 19th annual Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, hosted by Drew Theological School.

This year’s theme was Assembling Futures: Economy, Ecology, and Democracy, which was explored by scholars in religious, theological and biblical studies seeking to activate the fresh perspectives needed in assembling possible futures in these challenging times.

The virtual event, rescheduled from April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured a student panel on October 16, 2020, followed by the scholar panel event on November 9, 2020.

“By gathering virtually, we were able to welcome scholars and Drew community members around the globe into the conversation."

“Although we needed to reassemble at a later date than initially planned because of COVID, the papers were even more timely this fall, when addressing topics related to democracy, the economy and ecology press with ethical urgency,” said Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies Jennifer Quigley. “By gathering virtually, we were able to welcome scholars and Drew community members around the globe into the conversation.”

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Hyo-Dong Lee, Drew Theological School

Hyo-Dong Lee, associate professor of comparative theology at Drew, presented his paper “Jeong, Civility, and the Heart of a Pluralistic Democracy.” Lee proposed reinterpreting the Confucian concept of Jeong as a core political notion of a pluralistic democracy. “Humans are good because they’re fundamentally creatures of empathy,” said Lee. “People’s natural possession of mutual empathy enables them to be civil to one another, even across differences.”

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Marion Grau, Norwegian School of Theology

Drew alumna Marion Grau T’01, professor of systematic theology and missiology at the Norwegian School of Theology, explored the connections between the love of money and the love of petroleum through her paper “Regifting the Divine Economy – Countering Blowout Petrotheologies.” Grau challenged the assumption that an ethics of grace contradicts an economy of reciprocity, “What if we could re-read grace as an undeserved gift that invites and depends on reciprocity, and is that a way we can think differently about economy and ecology?”

Visiting scholars also presenting papers included:

  • Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of religion at Columbia University, “Making Democratic Socialism American: History, Politics, Religion, and Economic Democracy”
  • Paulina Ochoa-Espejo, associate professor of political science at Haverford College, “Our Place on Earth: Property, Territory and the Sources of Human Entitlement”
  • Joerg Rieger, distinguished professor of theology at Vanderbuilt Divinity School, “The Immanence and Transdendence of Christianity, Capitalism, and Economic Democracy: Alternatives to Ecological Devastation”
“The sudden political opening of possibilities that could have been slammed shut may refresh for us all the questions of what futures to assemble now—and how?”

Catherine Keller, the George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology at Drew Theological School, responded to the scholar presentations and their timeliness, “The sudden political opening of possibilities that could have been slammed shut may refresh for us all the questions of what futures to assemble now—and how?”

Drew Theological School Graduate Division of Religion students presenting papers included:

  • Hunter Bragg, “Caravans, Christianity and the ‘Eye of CNN’: Globalatinization, Immigration, Localization”
  • Hilary Floyd, “In Whose Interest? Matthew 25:14-30 as a Theoeconomic Parable Hard at Work”
  • Eunchul Jung, “Amourous, Agonistic, Unable Community: An Alternative to Apathetic, Antagonistic, Able Community”
  • Jennifer Maidrand, “Exegeting Christian News: The Hermeneutics of Evangelical [Financial] Support of Israel”
  • JD Mechelke, “A Child of the Anthropocene: Greta Thunberg and Queer Negativity”
  • Dan Siedell, “Curating Futures at the Museum of Modern Art: The Curator and Theological Discourses”
  • O’neil Van Horn, “Undecidability & the Anthropocene: On Making Decisions in the Midst of Climate Crisis”
  • Kelsey Wallace, “From Pharaoh to Yahweh: Grace, Debt, and the Dark Side of the Gift”

The conversation will continue with an additional Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium meeting, to be scheduled during the spring semester.

Cutting-edge contributions from past years of the Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium at Drew are available in a series of volumes published by Fordham University Press.

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