Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads
Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania
The Grove City English Department invites participants and presenters to an in-person Lilly Fellows Program Regional Conference: “Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads,” held on campus at Grove City College on April 7-9, 2022. The conference will include plenary addresses by graphic novelist and artist Gene Luen Yang and scholar Dr. Susan Van Zanten.
Describing the vexed position of the Christian in a postcolonial nation, Ghanaian theologian Mercy Amba Oduyoye writes, “What is specifically Christian is irresistible. But Christianity in Africa began by confusing Christianity with European culture” (Inheriting Our Mothers’ Gardens 39). Christianity has often been mistaken for and sometimes presented as a purely Western phenomenon, but this has never been the case—Christian communities like the Ethiopian Church and the Saint Thomas Christians of India trace their roots back to the time of the apostles. This fact is becoming ever more apparent today as the demographic center of even Western Christianity shifts eastward and southward. If, as St. Paul says, the Gospel is “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles,” then Christianity presents a challenge to the conventional wisdom of any culture or nation. Christianity is not inherently more compatible with Western culture than it is with any of the cultures of the East or the Global South. How might American scholars and American students, especially those who also find Christianity “irresistible,” understand and learn from Christian thinkers and treatments of Christian communities in these global texts?
We invite scholarly or pedagogically focused 15-20 minute conference papers centered on the relationship between Christianity and a primary text or core text from a non-Western tradition, including works of literature, philosophy, theology, history, and the fine arts. Proposals (250-300 words) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 14, 2022, and center around one or more of the following approaches:
- Approaches to teaching global/non-Western texts that engage with Christianity in a church-related academic context: How might global texts defamiliarize the Christian faith or broaden students’ perspective on Christianity?
- Approaches to reading global texts in a diverse classroom: How do our pedagogies engage students from diverse backgrounds, including Black, indigenous, Latinx, and other students of color, in an American classroom?
- History of Christian missions and texts/reading practices: How have readings of primary texts from global traditions informed missions or the global church body? Can a text be a substitute or a motivator for an encounter with a Christian community from a different culture? What might make these approaches fruitful or problematic?
- Christianity and Culture: How do global communities interpret the gospel within their own cultural contexts and historical moments?
- Missions and Colonialism: How has Christianity been presented in colonial and other contexts as a “Western” religion, and what have been the effects?
- Postcolonial Theories and Theology: How might postcolonial theories and understandings of colonial subjects invoke harmonies and/or tensions with Christian understandings of the human person, human flourishing, etc.?
- Global Scholarship and Christian texts: What is the benefit for scholars to be engaging with non-Western assessments of Western Christian works? For instance, what can we learn from studying the reception of Dante in India or Aquinas in Japan?