My First Time at the SCE
January 10, 2011 Leave a comment
This past weekend The Society of Christian Ethics had their annual meeting in New Orleans. Not only was this my first time attending the conference, it was also the first time I have presented a paper at one of the major academic societies that I am a part of. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the conference – who can complain about catching up with old friends and making new ones, eating lots of cajun food, introducing my wife to the beignets at Cafe du Monde, and hours and hours of conversation about Christian theology, ethics and academic life – and plan on attending for many years to come.
My paper, which I wrote and presented with K. Christine Pae (who is a wonderful scholar and has done extensive research on the moral agency of military prostitutes in Korea and the implications of military prostitution for Christian social ethics) and was responded to by Irene Oh (a scholar of both Christian and Muslim ethics), was entitled “The Unavoidable Burden of Race: In Search of Justice-Oriented Asian American Christian Public Discourse.” The paper was presented during the Asian/Asian American Working Group session of the meeting. It was a well-attended paper and Christine and I received nothing but good and constructive feedback on the paper. Hopefully, we will find a forum in which we can publish the paper.
I must say, I enjoyed this meeting more than I did the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion this year; primarily because of the way the conference is structured. The paper sessions are devoted to one paper. This means that authors present about a 20-25 page paper rather than a 10-12 page paper, and also means that there is a more extended time for Q&A. With this format you get to hear a more extended account of people’s research and arguments, and have a much more fruitful Q&A session.
I heard multiple papers that were engaging and led to wonderful conversations afterwards. John Kiess, a doctoral student at Duke, presented a theology of moral agency of victims in violent conflict that drew on ethnographic research he conducted in a village in Congo; Karen Guth, a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia, presented a feminist reappropriation of Martin Luther King’s understanding of agape as mutuality and creativity (which I think she nailed right on the head!); and my friend and advisor Ellen Ott Marshall presented a paper dealing with the question of responsibility in pacifist conviction by drawing on interviews she conducted with four women in historic peace churches, to name a few. In addition to the papers presented, James Gustafson was honored with the first ever lifetime achievement award in a moving presentation that included his dedication to his wife and a kiss on the cheek from longtime friend and antagonist Stanley Hauerwas, Hauerwas was inducted as the new president of the SCE, Stacey Floyd-Thomas was introduced as the new exective director, and Miguel De La Torre was elected as the new vice president (which means he will be the next president after Hauerwas). The intriguing grouping of Hauerwas, Floyd-Thomas and De La Torre as the society’s leadership as a wonderful embodiment of the diversity (theological and otherwise) present in the society.
So, in the end, I give two cheers to my first experience of the main event of life in the SCE!