Speaking (Or Not Speaking) Of God – Call For Proposals

Speaking (Or Not Speaking) of God

An Interdisciplinary Conference On The Dialectic Of Divine Presence And Absence

When:  October 6-7, 2017

Where:  University of Denver, Denver, Colorado

Sponsors:  Department of Religious Studies, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory

Deadline for Proposals:  July 15, 2017


Since the philosopher Nietzsche announced the “death of God” over a century ago, the specter of divine absence has hovered over Western civilization.

The importance of this theme has not been limited to atheists.  Since at least the 1960s, the “death of God” movement has captivated the imagination of theologians and philosophers alike, and as a result has been an ongoing – and contentious – issue for the public as a whole.  The  box office success in recent years of such Christian films as “God’s Not Dead” and “God’s Not Dead 2”), which to date have grossed around $80 million, attest to a profound, popular interest in Nietzsche’s famous saying, even if it has become a focus of the culture wars.

Whether God is dead or absent, however, the question of whether the divine continues to manifest in some way – as a “still small voice” or as felt presence – is a question that preoccupies religious believers and philosophers and theorists of religion alike.  Theologian John D. Caputo contends, for example, that God may not exist, but still “insists” in certain mysterious ways. A long spiritual tradition running back to the early Middle Ages known as “negative theology” holds that even if the divine itself is beyond human reach, one can still ”speak” of God – paradoxically – by “not-speaking.”  Likewise, God can also “speak” in the same way.

The symposium will address a number of questions from an interdisciplinary perspective concerning the relationship between the presence/absence and the voice/silence of God.  For instance: What does it imply (theologically, linguistically, existentially, psychologically, etc.) to invoke the expression “God speaks”?  If God is dead, does God still “speak from the dead” in some extended sense of the word, and what does that in itself say about God?  What does it mean to talk about divine “presence” and “absence”, or about God “speaking” or “remaining silent”?  Are we simply utilizing metaphors when we talk about the “voice of God”, or does such a locution have more palpable as well as empirical ramifications?

The conference organizers invite proposals for papers, panels, or presentations.  Proposals should be a maximum of 500 words (full papers may also be submitted) and include the full names and affiliations of each presenter along with their email contact information and a 2-3 sentence bio.  Proposals must be submitted as an attachment in Microsoft Word, or Word-compatible, format no later than July 15, 2017 to  Notification of accepted proposals will be sent no later than August 1, 2017.

The symposium is designed not just exclusively for academics, but also extends an invitation to religious professionals.  Select contributions will be published as a special issue of JCRT.

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