All about angels this fortnight

I’m off to the ISMRC Conference: Media, Religion and Culture in a Networked World in less that a week, so my focus will be on angels (and the demonic) in popular culture for the next two weeks. I’ll be presenting a paper titled “Upside-down Angels: The Inverting of Supernatural Good and Evil in Popular Culture” on the Wednesday and really looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues from around the world.

So, I’ve been catching up on what is coming up in the world of angels and popular culture, and these look interesting. In particular, the new Constantine TV show looks like it will be much closer to the John Constantine of the comic books Hellblazer and Constantine (New 52 version here) rather than the Keanu Reeves US film version. The Dominion series looks average, but it could develop (though I don’t imagine either will make it on to NZ television), and still serves as some interesting research material.

Some angel popular culture trailers for those interested:

New Constantine TV Series

Dominion TV Series

Fallen TV Series

2005 Constantine film

Gabriel film

An Invitation to the Study of Cyborgs

I met with Prof. Toru Takahashi a week or two back, while he was here at the University of Waikato on sabbatical. Good conversations around cyborgs, religion, animé and manga. He’s written mostly in Japanese, but here’s an English version of a short article of his.

Online academia

A couple of interesting posts on online academia. The first looks at how PhD students might use online resources and networks to promote and resource their own research, while the second looks at developments in online theological education.

Mental health and academia

Mental health amongst academics doesn’t really get talked about to much. Constant change within the tertiary sector, continual creeping (and often accelerating) bureaucracy, and an ever increasing audit culture can and do reduce space for collegiality, fulfilling a sense of vocation and developing a kind of work life balance (e.g. spending your annual leave doing the research your job requires but doesn’t allow time for in your regular work schedule). In this environment, mental health issues are hard to manage and even seen as a kind of normality sometimes. These recent articles on the issue from The Guardian pick up on this.

Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul?

A while ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, theology and robots was a topic that generated a number of books and publications including the ones below:


“God In the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God” (Anne Foerst)

“God and the Mind Machine: Artificial Intelligence” (John C. Puddefoot)

Now it looks like that discussion is getting a new lease of life: See Apocalypse NAO: Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul? | Popular Science

“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.

“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”

Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: http://t.co/cw9On1JVgN) for the link.

Symposium: Doing Theology in Light of the Trinity

Symposium: Doing Theology in light of the TrinityTrinity and Method - Call for papers.jpg

Date: 21-22 August 2014
Location: Laidlaw College, Auckland, New Zealand

The resurgence of Trinitarian theology has been one of the outstanding developments of the recent decades of Christian systematic theology. From Barth and Rahner, to Pannenberg, Moltmann and La Cugna, to the programmatic suggestions of Colin Gunton, John Zizioulas and Stanley Grenz, to the recent essays of Kathryn Tanner, Sarah Coakley and Paul Fiddes, Trinity has been seen to be a creative clue to many aspects of the Christian theological discourse.This symposium will address the interface between understandings of the Trinity and theological method. What are the implications for the way in which the task of theology is to be approached? It is expected that a substantial publication on the themes will proceed from the symposium.

Proposals for papers are invited on related themes in biblical, systematic, and historical theology. Titles and Abstracts of up to 200 words should be forwarded to fsherwin@laidlaw.ac.nz by 31 March 2014.

More details available from the link below (PDF)

Trinity and Method Symposium and CFP

Theology and cancer discussions this week

Because of the Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium coming up that I’m participating in I was interested to see these NZ articles on the internet this week.

The first three are from the NZ Herald. In the first two Stephen Wealthhall reflects on death and then in the third Brian Brandon responds in part to those.

The fourth link is to a blog post by a (new) colleague of mine, Mark McConnell, written as he works on his paper for the symposium.

Public Lecture: Exploring the spiritual terrain of the cancer experience; stories and statistics

Public Lecture for the Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium

Exploring the spiritual terrain of the cancer experience; stories and statistics
Richard Egan PhD
School of Medicine, University of Otago

Cancer affects everyone differently but what is evident is that it turns most people’s lives upside down. For those with cancer, along with their family/whanau and friends, the cancer experience may challenge their beliefs and values, a sense of who they are, and their meaning and purpose in life. For many, the cancer experience is not only a reminder of their own mortality but it also provides a sense of connectedness. Our work with people who have experienced cancer suggests these are the elements that begin to define the spiritual terrain for people traversing the cancer landscape.

This presentation will consider people’s stories and will be supported by population based statistics, combined with contemporary ways of seeing health and well-being as a means to explore the often considered profound spiritual experience of cancer.

Thursday 20 February, 7.30pm
Library Theatre B10, Alfred Street, The University of Auckland
For more details contact: theologyadmin@auckland.ac.nz

061bb0bRichard Egan is a lecturer in health promotion at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago. Working in the Cancer Society Social and Behavioral Research Unit, Richard teaches Undergraduate and Postgraduate health promotion. His background includes five years working as a health promoter/professional advisor in a Public Health Unit and five years secondary school teaching. Richard’s academic interests centre on supportive care in cancer, health promotion and the place of spirituality in health and well-being. Richard is a mixed methods researcher, with a particular focus on qualitative research.

This lecture is presented in association with Theology at the University of Auckland and Laidlaw College, Auckland.

PDF Flyer available here: Richard Egan Lecture.

Reminder: Theology, Spirituality and Cancer Symposium

From the symposium organisers:

Just in case you were planning to come but haven’t registered yet we thought we’d send this quick reminder about the upcoming two-day symposium and public lecture on Theology, Spirituality & Cancer on 20-21 February 2014.

The Theology, Spirituality and Cancer symposium, jointly sponsored by Laidlaw College and Theology at the University of Auckland, is is an interdisciplinary meeting exploring dialogue between theological (including biblical), religious, philosophical, spiritual, healthcare and pastoral arenas, and will include presentations by biblical scholars Dr Tim Meadowcroft and Dr Caroline Blyth, and practical theologian Dr Stephen Garner among others. The symposium will be of interest to academics and practitioners, including religious ministers, chaplains, counsellors and healthcare practitioners in related areas. It will address topics such as theodicy, cancer therapies, end-of-life care and pastoral challenges as well as exploring the insights a theological, religious or spiritual perspective can bring to an understanding of all aspects of cancer. These areas will be explored through presented papers, keynote addresses and a public lecture.

Symposium
When: 20-21 February 2014 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Where: University of Auckland (City Campus), Arts 1 Building (Building 206), 14A Symonds Street, Auckland
Cost: $100 (includes morning and afternoon tea)
Register: Click here to register online. Registration will close on Friday 9 February 2014, but please register early as places are limited.

Public Lecture with Richard Egan, PhD
EXPLORING THE SPIRITUAL TERRAIN OF THE CANCER EXPERIENCE; STORIES AND STATISTICS
When: 20 February 2014 | 7:30pm
Where: Library Theatre B10, University of Auckland, Alfred Street, Auckland
Cost: Free

For further information about the symposium click here for schedule and registration form or visit theologyandcancer.org or contact Christina Partridge at cpartridge@laidlaw.ac.nz