From this Thursday through Sunday, more than 200 theologians, professors of religious studies, scholars from other fields, and interested individuals will be gathering at the University of Portland for the annual meeting of the College Theology Society.* The CTS began with a society of Catholic teachers of theology and religious studies in 1954, and while we are not only Catholic – the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion has been meeting with us for over 20 years – many Catholic professors have found the CTS an important home in the past 60 years. Beyond that ecumenical openness, one thing that distinguishes the CTS from our sister society, the Catholic Theological Society of America, is our focus on pedagogy – we were explicitly founded as a society for those teaching undergraduates at the rich variety of Catholic undergraduate institutions in the United States, and not primarily at seminaries and doctoral faculties.
So what does this have to do with Daily Theology? Well, part of the history of the CTS has always been looking for new and different ways to share theology and religious studies with others – through our journal, Horizons; through our annual volumes published with Orbis Press; and through teaching workshops and regional meetings. This year, we’re trying something new – bloggers from Daily Theology, some of whom will be at the CTS meeting in Portland, will be writing before, during, and after the meeting, and on Friday, May 29, between 2:00-3:30 pm Pacific Time, we’ll be hosting a colloquium and conversation at the CTS meeting about social media, blogging, theology, and our place in the church, the academy, and the public sphere. We will be taking questions and comments from attendees, but also from anyone else via twitter – more details on that as the week goes on, but good place to keep an eye out is the Daily Theology twitter feed.
The title of our reflections in the next few days will be “Blogging in an Unexpected Wilderness” – a play on words on the overall theme of the CTS meeting, “Finding God in an Unexpected Wilderness: Seeking God on a Changing Planet.” Our three plenary speakers – Agnes Brazal of the St. Vincent School of Theology in the Philippines; Catherine Keller of Drew University; and Brent Olson, a farmer, writer, and columnist from Ortonville, Minnesota – will be focusing on issues related to ecology and theology. But our posts and Friday’s colloquium will focus on another sort of “wilderness”, the internet and social media landscape of 2015, which can sometimes seem as rich as a national park and sometimes as arid as a California drought or as dangerously flooded as a typhoon-ravaged coast. Some of our posts will be about how we understand our own role as theologians, teachers, and/or bloggers in that environment; others will provide some reports on the papers and talks at the conference; and other ideas will likely bubble up both from our conversations over the weekend and your contributions to that conversation via comments and twitter.
So join us for a virtual trip to the University of Portland and the College Theology Society Annual Meeting – and block off 2:00-3:30 pm Pacific time on Friday to be part of the livetweeted conversation.
*Full disclosure: I’m the Treasurer and a member of the board of the College Theology Society.