It’s been over a week now since I spoke at the annual Wheaton Theology Conference. Again, let me say that I was honored to be asked — although Al Hsu reports that several theologians with whom he spoke were disgruntled and felt I had no right to be on the slate of speakers, much less in a keynote role. I guess if they want to maintain the purity of academic conferences, I can understand. But I think that the conference organizers are wary of the internecine battles that often result from academic inbreeding — not to mention that very few academicians can speak with any credibility on the emergent church. So I gave it my best shot, and I took some criticism — more on that tomorrow.
Due to Tanner’s birthday on one end and the Emergent Theological Philosophical Conversation on the other, I couldn’t stay at Wheaton for more than the day on Friday. This was a great disappointment, and it’s not the way that I like to be at conferences.
The folks at Wheaton treated me with the utmost hospitality, particularly my friend, Vince Bacote. And I also want to give a shout-out to Karen Sloan, a true phenom in the emergent church. There she was, as she is at every EC event in the States. She reported to me that some of the other speakers were disgruntled because they’d heard that I was using powerpoint. (What’s funny is that while my use of this Microsoft product seemed intimidating and out-of-place among academicians, it draws almost universal ridicule from all my Mac-happy co-emergers.) Another speaker reportedly scoffed at the emergent church with some derogatory comment about powerpoint slides. The problems with this assumption that academic discourse should (can?!?) be purely verbal are too numerous to post, so I won’t.
John Franke was also there, and he was supportive throughout. I took a long walk with Jason Byassee of the Christian Century. He’s an excellent and thoughtful guy who later in the day presented a paper on the emergent church. He was relatively fair, though he took a couple of cheap-shots at Doug; and his deconstruction of Mark Driscoll was devastating.
I ate two lunches: first with Collin Hansen of Christianity Today, who’s working on a profile of Driscoll, and then with Andrew Bronson of InterVarsity Press, active in the Chicagoland Emergent Village cohort, up/rooted. Finally, I was graciously invited to the IVP author dinner, even though I’m not an IVP author. Seated amidst members of the Hauerwasian Mafia, it was fight or flight. I chose flight. Fortunately, Karen Sloan loaned me her car, and I got back to Wheaton without broken kneecaps.
Tomorrow: The Speech…