A Chat with Philip Clayton

A Chat with Philip Clayton April 29, 2010

One of the great joys of the last year of my life has been forging a wonderful friendship with Philip Clayton.  When we were at Columbia Seminary in January, we were invited by Jeff Straka to talk to the robust Atlanta Cohort of the emergence movement.  Dan Ra video recorded it, and the Nick & Josh Podcast is releasing it bit-by-bit.  Here’s part one:

Philip Clayton and Tony Jones, Atlanta 2010 (Part 1) from Nick Fiedler on Vimeo.

Dan Ra (nextgenerasianchurch.com) was at the Atlanta Cohort filming when Philip Clayton and Tony Jones came to host a conversation.

This is Part 1 of that discussion.

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  • “I sold a million books because I wrote a book people could read” – brilliant

  • tom c.

    I appreciate Philip Clayton’s move away from his earlier academic ambitions and focusing on his fundamental reasons for being a theologian. Probably all of us in academia, and elsewhere, would benefit from contemplating our fundamental sense of purpose and call in what it is we do. I see his recent turn as a reminder of this…I also like what I hear him saying about setting theology on a more practical footing for helping the Church (and churches) contemplate current and future possibilities (theology after google, etc). For many, like myself, who are trying to scale the walls of academia, tenure-track positions are dwindling; perhaps all institutions are inherently conservative, and to land a position at an academic institution requires (conservative) work that matches expectations for the field in question. This is probably why one finds theologians and graduate students who look down on or are oblivious to the popular media.

    The idea (mentioned in the video) to bring queer theory to bear on Emergent reflects the ways in which graduate students have been trained to engage with other theories or social movements (use the hermeneutics of suspicion, criticize hegemonies, etc). Tony’s 0% remark is perhaps accurate but also flippant; I know of someone who made good use of gender theory in practical ministry — but this was a small congregation. So, yes, perhaps 0.00001%. Actually, I suspect there are a good many people who have given up on Christianity because of sexism, heterosexism, and hypocrisy related to sexuality; one imagines that greater sophistication relating to gender in both theology and practice might help lure them back. Perhaps the percentage of the Church interested in gender theory is near 0, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea — I’d just find my own way of owning it. That said, I am neither a theologian, nor a pastor, so what do I know? I guess I just want to point out that what we dismiss or what may seem out of place may still be useful to someone in some unexpected setting.

    (I actually kind of like what I’ve read of liberal theology. Everybody seems to hate it these days. It seems to me like a dream, now lost, of a consonance between an Enlightened Christianity and democratic society. Reading these texts feels like reading someone’s prayers from a long time ago.)