On April 20th and 21st there will be a meeting of the inaugural (and hopefully first annual) meeting of the Cornerstone University Society for Philosophy. How did I hear about this event? Well, the president (Dean Dettloff) and vice president (Jazz Salo) of the society are coworkers of mine here at Baker Book House. Yesterday they asked if I would mention this historic event on the blog. I am more than happy to pass on the news of this event.
These two guys are infectious in their enthusiasm about this project. The theme for the society is “Thinking Christianity in the Present Tense” and this year’s theme will focus specifically on “The Politics of Discipleship.” The inspiration for the theme comes from a book by that same title by Graham Ward, The Politics of Discipleship. I asked them both for some comments about what they hoped to accomplish through this event. Dean said, “We want to explore the political dimensions of engaging in intentional and meaningful discipleship.” Jazz was not quite so succinct but was anxious to jump in. He commented that he hoped that they could “deconolize the word ‘politics.'” I asked for more and he didn’t miss a beat. “When we think of politics,” he said, “we think of GOP debates. Politics is bigger than that. By politics we mean acting with power.” Now he really had my interest up. “Can you explain what that means?” I asked. He quickly ran and got a copy of Ward’s book (one of the advantages of working in a bookstore) and turned to page 27. He read me the following passage:
“By ‘political’ I mean an act that entails power–that is, an act the effect of which is (a) subjection (an act that puts things into hierarchy that favors the individual or institution that is acting), (b) liberation (an act that deconstructs the hierarchy that is involved in subjection), or (c) maintenance fo the status quo. Power in this sense is not an entity as such although it can be measured as other material forms of power are conventionally measured in watts, the force of gravity, or the strength of horses. Power in its political sense can be measured by what supports and invests in it–money or an electorate, for example. It is this support and investment that render such power material and its operations visible.” (27)
Jazz was breathless as he finished. Clearly there is passion in what he and Dean hope to do in this conference. There are three incredible speakers lined up for the plenary sessions. J. Matthew Bonzo, Associate Professor of Philosophy and head of the Institute for Christianity and Cultural Engagement at Cornerstone University, Lee C. Camp, Associate Professor of Bible at Lipscomb University, and James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Congregational and Ministry Studies and Calvin College.
The conference will be held at Cornerstone University. There has been a call for papers and the deadline has been extended to April 2nd. The conference is targeted to pastors, students, ecclesial leaders but is open to any who may have an interest in the discussion. On the home page you will see an icon of Martin of Tours and Emperor Constantine. I asked Jazz why these two were selected. He explained that Martin of Tours represents the early church pacifists while Constantine represents the movement forward of the great emperor which tried to find room for a more active role of the church in the role of the emperor. Jazz and Dean said they wanted to ensure that both positions would have a fair representation and a voice at the conference. The guys are thirsty for dialogue and I hope their efforts are well rewarded. If this is something that might interest you visit the website or send an email to email@example.com .