Posts Tagged ‘ambition’

I’m here at my first AAR conference. I could never afford to go as a grad student, and feel giddy and blessed that the journal has enough funding to pay for me to be here this year. Josh and I are presenting a panel tomorrow, along with several of our esteemed board members, on the “promises and challenges of inter-religious dialogue.”

Earlier today I saw a preview of the film Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. Dr. McGuckin was my advisor when I studied Byzantine history, and I was honored to get to hear stories of these monastics and desert fathers in person. The film looks so good– it’s hard to believe, especially having flown from NYC to Atlanta, that there is, for example, an entire island where only male monastics live, eating what they grow, cut off from the modern world, and praying day in and day out as they have for hundreds of years.

Then, I went to a panel discussing the work of Rita Gross, who I had only read in school. In fact, I had only read nearly everyone on the panel, except for Professor Paul Knitter, who is a favorite of mine.

Here are some notes I took during the panel:

“dialogue is not about at arriving at homogenized views”

the teacher presents each religion empathetically…teacher should be committed to what is most life-giving…so that the students can come to their own evaluation

empathy is aligned with accuracy

regarding Gross as an editor: “…once she made a decision, she never wavered”

Rosemary Radford Ruether on feminism: resistance of scholars to pay attention to the ways half of humanity participates in religions

androcentrism–bias toward elite male; assumption that he is the “normal” human being = bad empiricism

Max Miller: “to know only one religion is to understand none”

Matt arrives late tonight. I’m hoping to bring him along to a morning session, a panel talking about the impact of Serene Jones’ book Trauma and Grace. I interviewed Jones earlier this week about her participation in a seminal Muslim/Jewish closed door conference. She briefly mentioned some of the work around this book in a panel on Monday night, and I couldn’t keep up with the notes I wanted to take.

There are some art museums and old churches nearby, and Matt has a new camera, so I’m hoping we can walk and explore around lunch time, before getting ready for my panel in the early evening.

I’ve never been to an academic conference, and was a bit nervous beforehand. During the Gross panel, though–especially after hearing Knitter speak, which made me feel right at home as a student–I realized that it is like being a student. You choose presentations that appeal to you, you listen attentively and get excited, note-take furiously, and ask questions. You meet people that have similar ideas, or excitement, or questions. Instead of asking which hall they live in, you exchange business cards.

I was surprised when two different people saw me walking around afterward the Gross panel ¬†and struck up a conversation beginning with, “I really liked your question.”

I’m looking forward to another day of questions that have never even crossed my mind.


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