Monday, April 04, 2011

Blogosphere Karl Barth Blog Conference

Discovered that Travis MacMaken, a PhD candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary has been organizing Karl Barth Blog Conference (KBBC) on his blog Der Evangelische Theologice (DET) since 2007. I am made aware of this by following the links provided by another promising PhD student, Sivin Kit from Malaysia (HT Sivin) who have just started his PhD journey. Since reading this I am looking forward to the KBBC 2011.

Much has changed over the past few years. When I organized the first KBBC back in 2007, it was a much more parochial undertaking. Students at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) have, from time to time, joined together to form “reading groups” as a supplement to the official course offerings. Such groups are comprised of like-minded individuals who want to tackle a certain theological text or thinker, and who expect to come to a better understanding of the material through communal discussion rather than mere independent reading. The first KBBC was simply to be an online, blog-y version of this phenomenon. Thus, a number of my friends and colleagues took turns writing on the various chapters of Barth’s Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century (index).

The second KBBC in 2008 was much in the same vein (index). This time the text up for consideration and exposition was Jüngel’s God’s Being is in Becoming. However, something important began to happen. Whereas the first KBBC was authored almost exclusively by PTS folk, the second KBBC saw contributions from authors from other corners of the theological education and theo-blog worlds. Although PTS folk have remained central to the subsequent KBBCs, I’m glad that this trend toward wider participation has continued. Also, the plenary posts this second year began to be more exploratory and innovative – no longer content to explicate the text in question, KBBC authors were deploying complex arguments, often with constructive goals. Finally, this second KBBC was when the theo-blogosphere stood up and took notice. Traffic increased significantly and, consequently, so did the number of comments.

One of the themes to which the discussion surrounding the 2008 KBBC repeatedly returned was that of natural theology. So, I set the 2009 KBBC (index) theme as Romans 1 and the possibility of natural knowledge of God. For the first time in KBBC history, the theme was not bound to a particular text by or about Barth. Once again, plenary writers and respondents were drawn from various spheres, although some mainstays also returned. The plenary posts and responses were well done, the conversation in the comments section was heavy, and this KBBC continued to surpass its previous records for traffic and comments. It was an unqualified success, and I began to plot and scheme to ensure that the trajectory continued to trend upwards.
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Der Evangelische Theologe: 2010 KBBC: Welcome and Introduction

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