A conversation about the psychology of disgust, Camden New Jersey, Spirituals and Hip-Hop? What's the common denominator?
Want more clues? Try games, movies, eucharist, superheroes, mystics, forgiveness, theology! So, yes, of course! The common factor has to be mimesis, the root human capacity for imitation, a capacity for violence and ultimately for love, a capacity of which the first sustained analytic account is found in the bible
The fifth annual conference of Theology & Peace took place in Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore, June 5-7. We continued our exciting journey as an organization, following a path into diverse places and settings which make up the Christian cultural web of North America. The conference represented the latest chapter in an ongoing commitment to shift our theological and practical landscape. We long spiritually to affect a cultural fabric constructed out of violence, learning a way to be both human and peaceful; something at least as central to the meaning of Christianity as getting to a supposed extra-terrestrial heaven.
Our speakers gave us rich fare. Richard Beck showed us the psychological components helping create scapegoats, playing out so quickly we do not even see them--unless of course we begin to glimpse and interrupt the process in the light of a gospel "will-to-embrace". Chris Haw narrated his Christian journey taking him to Camden, New Jersey, a place with a devastating rate of violent crime, but within it finding a Roman Catholic church community offering meaning and truth in the midst of despair. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan told the story of Black American music, from Spirituals, through Jazz and Blues, to Hip Hop and Rap, an amazing creative odyssey of words, gestures and music exorcising, lamenting, echoing a world of violence, but always moved by deep transformative hope.
The workshops set before us a springtime of Mimetic Theory. Together they demonstrated a broad range of contexts in which this enormously fruitful way of understanding our 21st century world may be applied. Thanks and congratulations to their leaders, representing various communities of practice and service. They included Michael Hardin, Brad Dyche, Tom Nicoll, Tony Cicariello, Heather Scanlon, Josh Kaufman-Horner, Betsy Hansbrough, Maya Burtin, Sammy Patterson, Lisa Hadler, Joel Nau, Suzanne Ross, Susan Wright, Andrew Marr, Wendall Holmes, Tony Bartlett and Melanie Weaver.
Our Friends at Newborn Ministries
The African-American membership of Newborn Ministries based in Sandtown, Baltimore, provided an exceptional presence at the conference. Under the leadership of C.W. and Amelia Harris Newborn has been working to reverse and repair the damaged life of this city area and its inhabitants for over thirty five years. Their willingness to share the journey of T&P, including a stunning music ministry at the liturgy, is testimony of their deep faithfulness. It has deeply enriched our organization.
More material from the conference will be posted as it comes available. This is an early first response celebrating our joy and thanks for such a marvelous and fruitful occasion!
Christian Community Amid Cultural Chaos
June 5-7, 2012
College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore
Report on Fifth Annual Conference