Weekend before last was the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, this year in San Diego. Since Amy is a member of SBL and I am a member of AAR, it's always a fun time to get away for a weekend and hear some interesting papers.
While SBL often has some solid biblical scholarship, AAR can be a hit or miss affair. For example, last year in Washington, D.C., I was treated to an awkward conversation with the head of an arts and theology department, a great talk by N.T. Wright, and an interpretive dance based on the works of Kant and Hegel.
This year, however, was a fabulous year for my own interests. First I attended a session on the arts and theology which examined Andy Warhol's Sixty Last Suppers. The panel, which consisted of an art historian, a theologian, a Catholic and a Protestant, agreed that it seemed not ironic, and an interesting discussion followed, with Frank Burch Brown among the respondents. I left that session before a film discussion to catch the Baptist Professors of Religion's discussion of Just War.
That afternoon I caught a 19th century theology section, including a discussion of Ritschl, Nietzsche, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and some other 19th century feminists. I was hoping for some help for my dissertation, but it wasn't that helpful, although still interesting, since I've been living in the 19th century.
Following that was a fabulous Hebrews paper by Amy, which she delivered well and fielded some hard questions.
On Sunday I attended a discussion on Eucharistic origins with Andrew McGowan (his paper is posted at his blog), who has continued Bradshaw's calling for the rethinking of a unified early Eucharist. It was a fabulous round table, although I didn't agree with all conclusions that were made (also, it was unfortunately somewhat hard to hear). After that was a session on early depictions of worship, which included slides. Since it was late on my third day and dark, I don't quite remember everything about it.
My other favorite session was one on Monday, regarding Music and Theology. While the papers I heard weren't incredible, I am excited to see this group getting going at AAR. However, I did skip out on the middle couple of papers to hear my friend Justin's paper in the Mark section, which also turned out quite well. It looked like the stronger papers at Music and Theology happened while I was gone, but I was happy to support Justin. It seems as if it's going to become a regular program group, for which I would be grateful.
In all, it was a great conference this year, both for the papers I heard and for the people I got to see. Our OBU religion faculty was there, as well as friends from Princeton, Drew and elsewhere. I don't know what we'll do next year, though, because AAR and SBL are splitting. We'll have to see whose papers get accepted, I suppose.