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.

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
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 or contact Christina Partridge at

The Big Bible Project

I’ve started following The Big Bible Project out of Durham in the UK (and not to be confused with Tim Bulkeley’s equally excellent and blog SansBlogue). It’s well worth a look.

Some recent things that I’ve looked at over there include:

Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All

One of my new colleagues forwarded this link to me today. Intriguing project comparing past and present activities in the same geographic location to see if mobile devices have changed the way people interact in that space. See Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All –

Mobile devices & Learning Management Systems – Random Thoughts

Over the past year or so I’ve been using an older model iPad in my tertiary education environment to access various information and learning management systems and have, on the whole, been disappointed. The iPad works well for consuming media (provided it comes from a ‘kosher’ source), for reading email (but less so for responding to it), for looking information up online and carrying the various documents I need at meetings. It does not work as well for content creation – I have various office suites and an external keyboard and wouldn’t replace my laptop with it – and often doesn’t ‘play nice’ with web systems that have been developed ‘in-house’. And in some cases, e.g. accessing course materials or web-based email systems, it can be a real pain.

In my next job I’ll be working much more with the Moodle LMS (which I haven’t used much since 2006-7 when I was installing and configuring it for distance courses), and I’m wondering with the plethora of mobile devices out there what is the best way to use them with Moodle and the other institutional IT systems. In the last year I’ve tended to start with the app for things like Moodle, Facebook and Endnote and then shifted to the web versions when the apps have begun to struggle or frustrate what I want to do. So this year, I’ll be tracking sites like the ones below and looking for examples of LMS to mobile device connections that work well, what works best for academic staff and what works best for students. (And hopefully getting to try out Android, Windows 8 RT/Phone and iPad/iPhone systems with what we do to see how it all works.) Stay tuned.

Summer reading…

Pottering through a number of books this summer break – dipping into them for a bit before moving on to another book for a while. On the go at the moment or just finished include:

“Happy Hour In Hell” (Tad Williams)

So far not as good as it’s predecessor, “The Dirty Streets of Heaven”. It feels more formulaic and in places the flippancy seems a little forced. Still it keeps up the research into angels in popular culture. Heaven and Hell here seem to be more reflections of human existence than the other way around though.

“The Left Hand of God” (Paul Hoffman)

One a range of fantasy fiction that I’ve come across in the past year or so that very much seem to be on the Church (or just religion) as an evil (or misguided) empire. Seems to be a common theme at the moment – I’ve also just finished the two below that also have a similar theme in them.

“Theft of Swords, Vol. 1(Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)

“Rise of Empire, Vol. 2 (Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)

I’m also dipping into the following two books and quite enjoying them. Both different to each other but well worth the time.

“Eating Heaven: Spirituality at the Table” (Simon Carey Holt)

“Religion and Science Fiction:” (James McGrath (ed))

And finally this arrived in the mail at Christmas, which looks like it’ll be helpful for teaching this year.

“Beginning Theology” (Lucienne Breingan)

Future visions and environmentalism

A few links on how people’s perception of the future (incl. theological eschatologies) might shape environmental ethics.

Writing, reading and (religious) imagination

Two links here which both connect to the idea of ‘world-building’ – in the first case on the importance of fiction in engendering imaginative, thoughful people, while the second contemplated different ways in which one might deal with religion in fantasy writing.

For more on world-building, including some material in JRR Tolkien’s idea of sub-creation, see THE PERFECT PLANET: Comics, Games and World-Building.

Denominational branding and public identity

The post below by Jeremy Smith (from back in July) raises some interesting points about how local churches promote (or don’t promote) their connection to their wider denomination (in this case United Methodist) on their web sites etc. I’m thinking this would make a good project for an MMin student looking across denominations in NZ (include how many don’t have a web presence). Would also then be good to follow up on the branding and theology aspect.

See: Why do the Top 100 #UMC’s shun Methodism?.

On Ian Barbour

The following link is a reflection on Ian Babour and his work in the area of science and religion interaction. Barbour (who died just before Christmas) was hugely influential upon my own thinking about the relationships between science and religion and theology and technology. I often talk about his four-fold typology of relationships in theology classes, and his idea of ‘appropriate technology’ informed one of the thrusts of my PhD thesis.

See Farewell to Ian Barbour by Connor Wood over at Patheos: Science on Religion.

Here are a few of his many books:

“Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series)” (Ian G. Barbour)

“When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?” (Ian G. Barbour)

“Myths, Models and Paradigms” (Ian G. Barbour)

“Religion in an Age of Science (Gifford Lectures 1989-1991, Vol 1)” (Ian G. Barbour)

“Ethics in an Age of Technology: Gifford Lectures, Volume Two” (Ian G. Barbour)

“Issues in Science and Religion (Torchbooks)” (Ian G. Barbour)

Religion and Digital Media links (from the clean up)

Various religion and media links that have been sitting in the drafts folder. Cleaning things out so can think about what other things to do with the blog this year/