I’m putting the finishing touches on my paper presentations for two sessions at the American Academy of Religion conference this coming weekend in San Diego. I’m really excited to share my research and ideas, although I’m also feeling anxious and nervous about it. Both papers relate to ecotheology, but to different audiences and with different types of research. The first will be about Quakers and ecotheology, while the second is about living out environmental care based on ecologically informed theological education.
On Saturday, Nov. 24, 2019, I’ll be presenting to a joint session of the Quaker Studies Unit and the Pentecostal–Charismatic Movements Unit on the topic: “Friends and Watershed Discipleship: Reconciling with People and the Land in Light of the Doctrine of Discovery.” I’m really excited about this, because it brings together two of the communities I’m mainly involved with, theologically speaking. I care deeply about Quakers really paying attention to the ways many of us in the US, Canada, and Europe (in a predominantly white denomination) have benefited from colonialism, and how that has impacted land and natural resource use, and the social and environmental injustices that have occurred based on the colonial assumptions of empire. Friends have stood against imperialism in Christianity in many ways, but have still benefitted from it, and we have a lot of work to do to decolonize Quaker theology and to reconcile with God through reconciling with people, land, and other creatures. This will be a “friendly” (pun intended) group of folks, and I hope that the ideas I discuss will not only be appreciated in the session (as I’m sure they will, knowing who is likely to be present) but be implemented among Friends—which is a taller order.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, 2019, I’ll be sharing for the first time the preliminary findings from my dissertation research. The title of my paper is: “Environmental Care in Action: Experiences of Seminary and Divinity School Graduates from Environmentally Focused Programs,” and I’ll be giving the presentation to the Religion & Ecology Unit, the Class, Race, and & Theology Unit, and the Open & Relational Theologies Unit. I’m excited to begin sharing my findings based on 50 initial interviews with those who have focused on ecology, environment, food, sustainability, and so forth in their master’s degrees at seminaries and divinity schools in the United States. This one is also rather intimidating, as many impressive scholars will be in the audience (and responding to my paper!), and I’m not sure if my research will be something they connect with. At the same time, it is such an amazing opportunity to share what I’ve been working on for the last several years! I’m looking forward to the other papers in this session as well.
Mostly, I’m excited to be at AAR to see people I haven’t seen for awhile! It’s a fun time to connect with people whose names I’ve heard but haven’t met, to see friends from my seminary days, and to reconnect with colleagues from other schools working on areas of similar interest. I will spend a majority of my time hanging out with people. It’s always a stretch of extroversion for many of us professorial types who are more likely to be introverts, but if it’s the one time of the year where we have to act like raging extroverts for days at a time, we’ll probably be okay.