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.
Just the kind of encouraging thing to read first thing on a Monday morning…
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 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.
- Mental health and higher education: ‘I won’t let depression hold back my academic career’ | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional
- There is a culture of acceptance around mental health issues in academia | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional
- Dark thoughts: why mental illness is on the rise in academia | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional
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:
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.”
Symposium: Doing Theology in light of the Trinity
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 email@example.com by 31 March 2014.
More details available from the link below (PDF)
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.
- Death should hold no fear, says dying doctor – Life & Style – NZ Herald News
- Stephen Wealthhall: Let’s talk openly about death – Life & Style – NZ Herald News
- Rev Brian Brandon: Let’s look on bright side and talk about heaven – Religion and Beliefs – NZ Herald News
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard 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.
PDF Flyer available here: Richard Egan Lecture.
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.
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
A few links on how people’s perception of the future (incl. theological eschatologies) might shape environmental ethics.