Monday, November 19, 2007

1st blog from AAR in San Diego...

Update of AAR activities so far:

I arrived in San Diego Friday evening and grabbed a shuttle over to the hotel where I'm staying with three other students
(Todd, Phil, and Josh) from Fuller NW. At the King’s Inn, I found out that my request for a room on the 2nd floor “away from the noise” had paid off: The room where Todd and I are staying is quite a bit nicer than the other room -– a difference I am attributing to the hunch that our room is in a newer addition/upgrade to the hotel. Score!

Saturday: So, here's the short version of the conference -- TONS of lectures by various scholars, both in the convention center and in the surrounding hotels. This means LOTS of walking –- which isn’t so bad, except that I’m carrying my laptop bag with me everywhere, so by the end of this trip, I’m sure my shoulders will feel like jelly-filled donuts... and speaking of donuts... :-) Actually... waffles! The hotel has a great little breakfast joint, called the “Waffle Spot” (hey, the name doesn’t matter if the food’s good). Good stuff, even if it is greasy breakfast food.

Anyway, Saturday... I actually attended several lectures, but one really stood out, IMO. It was a paper given by Brian Robinette from St. Louis University in the Christian Systematic Theology morning session. Brian’s paper, “Transfiguring the Victim,” examined the thought of Jon Sobrino, who, according to Robinette, makes use of a dialectic approach in describing the duality of the victim/victimizer relationship. He points out what seems to be a circular appropriation of violence, whereby the victims of violence often become victimizers themselves in response to the violence they have experienced. In this way, Sobrino makes it clear that we are all in some sense both the victim and the victimizer.

Robinette adds to the thought of Rene Girard, who, in his work, points out that humanity has always apparently needed a “scapegoat” of sorts, an other who can take the brunt of a group’s guilt, fear, or hatred, and becomes the victim of that group in order that the group itself might remain cohesive. But in Girard’s estimation, Christ is the ultimate victim, because Christ is not only crucified by a collective group made up of various sub-groups (religious leaders, political leaders, the crowd), but in Christian theology Christ is also understood to be a victim of humanity’s sin – we are all responsible, in a sense, for Christ’s death. Christ is therefore the archetypal scapegoat. But if Christ is a victim, then God is also a victim of our sin, which leads to Robinette’s statement that God is a God of victims – and that includes everyone, including the ultimate victim, Jesus Christ.

Robinette adds to these ideas the conception of the atonement known as Christus Victor, in which the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ is seen as a final decisive victory of God over the forces of the devil, sin, and death. Christus Victor is the best way, Robinette claims, to assist Christians in understanding both the realization that everyone of us is both victim and victimizer, and the view that the ultimate forgiveness was given by the ultimate victim (Christ) in order to adequately respond to sin and violence. This model can assist us more fully in responding to the sin we find in our world, by reminding us of our own culpability and the forgiveness which God offers to both victim and victimizer. As recipients of that forgiveness, we should see others with new eyes – eyes of hope that both victims and victimizers might be redeemed through the forgiveness offered in Christ.

Other highlights from Saturday:

Attended lectures by S. Mark Heim, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and others, on some of the issues surrounding the critique of the traditional views of the atonement as too focused on violence, and possible new approaches to the atonement. I didn’t agree with everything they said, but it was thought-provoking.

Met briefly with Dr. Kevin Hart about the Ph.D program at the University of Virginia. It sounds like a great school, from what I’ve heard so far... although it’s quite tough to get into! (and ending my sentences with prepositions probably isn’t a good start... hehe!) Dr. Hart was very gracious, and as silly as it sounds, I was actually a bit intimidated by his British accent – there’s something about a British scholar that just seems to say: I’m much more intelligent, cultured, and well-regarded than any American! I dunno, maybe I’m just projecting my own insecurities.

Finally, Sat. evening I went to an Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting panel discussion. It was a response to Dale Allison’s book, “Resurrecting Jesus,” which is, obviously, a new book about the historical veracity of the resurrection of Christ. Allison, who is a Christian and believes in the resurrection, responded to critiques from Stephen Davis, William Lane Craig, and Gary Habermas. It was a case of evidentiary philosophers and a skeptical historian speaking past each other in terms of methodology, but all agreeing that faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a necessity. In other words, although a lot of interesting points were made, I felt that a lot of the critiques were all smoke and no fire. But, I did learn quite a bit, and enjoyed the lively discussion.

Oh, and in the lobby of the Marriott hotel we saw John Schneider (of Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville fame) getting a shoe shine. That was slightly odd. I don't think he was there for the conference. :-)

Ok, that’s it for now... I’ll post about Sunday and Monday soon.


Roy said...

So no drinking, topless girls or naked pool stunts at the hotel? Disappointing.

Geoff said...

Whatever! :-)