What is Creaturely Theology?

First, just a “thanks” to aufs for hosting the livestream of our divinanimality conference at Drew this past weekend. While the event is still fresh, I also thought I might pose a couple of questions that began to gestate over the course of this four day conference. My ears are selectively attentive. So whatever I report will (naturally) be told a bit slant. But, nonetheless, I’m interested in broad questions, about how religious studies and theology might infect/intersect with the ever-expanding storehouse of scholarship in animal studies.

Of course there were theological questions, calling attention to the sticky relations between creatures, creators, creations. But I think one of the most fruitful conversations—one that kept coming up over the course of the weekend—was the ontological distinction between the “animal” and the “creaturely.” While the conference intended to foreground the challenges that animals and divinities pose to humanist orthodoxies, many pointed to the “creaturely” as a plane of engagement that seems to do something different. I’ve actually given a lot of thought to this question (and have a forthcoming piece about it, in the volume resulting from the “Metaphysics & Things” conference at the Claremont Graduate University last December). But it was interesting to hear this conversation broadening. Kate Rigby suggested that the creaturely is a more “democratic” conceptual space—inclusive of both humans and animals, as well as plants, monsters. Perhaps even machines. This space isn’t unlike that given to “actors” in Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory, Alfred North Whitehead’s “actual entities” or even OOO’s objects. But, of course, the creaturely has a theological genealogy. Which makes it easier to explore this concept in the field of religious ideas. In spite of the generic, egalitarian potential of the creaturely, however, Read the rest of this entry »

Trinity Sunday sermon: Deep Thoughts

The following is this Sunday’s sermon at Zion “Goshert’s” UCC; the readings are Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 8; and Matthew 28:16-20. An additional lection will be Revelation 21:1-5. This Sunday, the first after Pentecost, is the liturgical observation of Trinity Sunday.  The sermon is, as usual, a work in progress.  Thanks.

We all know the creation story that appears in Genesis 1 and the beginning of Genesis 2.  Many of us probably know that it is immediately followed, in Genesis 2:4b and following, by a second creation story, and some of you might know that there are at least two more creation stories in the Bible, most prominently Proverbs 8 and John 1.

If you’ve been in a Bible study, you might know some of the weird things happening in the creation story.  It’s interesting that God refers to ‘Godself’ as “we” and “our” when speaking about the creation of the humans.  It’s also interesting that the order of events is a little different than the second account of creation that follows the first.  If you look closely at the first words of the Bible, it is not “in the beginning, God created,” but “in the beginning, when God created”:  the difference of having the “when” in the first verse indicates that the creation story here is not an absolute beginning.  It’s just the beginning of earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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