Dispatches: Turning Points in Theology and Global Crises

Dispatches is a new book series to be published by Fortress Press, which I am co-editing/advising with my colleague, collaborator, and friend, Scott A. Kirkland.

Dipatches draws on the legacy of early twentieth century theological responses to the crises of the two world wars. During World War II, Donald M. MacKinnon contributed two slim volumes to the Signposts series, which sought to offer an interruption of a theological malaise in the midst of mass violence and destruction.  Drawing on diverse resources, MacKinnon was able to harness the apocalyptic political urgency of the dialectical school within the theological grammar of a more traditional Anglo-Catholic Thomism. Similarly, this series draws on diverse theological resources in order to offer urgent responses to contemporary crises.

While the title of the series conveys the digest nature of the volumes, the subtitle, Turning Points, indicates the apocalyptic urgency of the issues addressed, and yet reserves any prescriptive judgment on the manner in which the tradition can be re-appropriated by our authors. In this way, we seek to offer a genuinely creative and disruptive theological-ethical ressourcement for church in the present moment. With conceptual agility and faithfulness this series will provide intelligent and yet accessible reflections on the shape and form of theological life in the present.

Key to the diagnosis of the late-modern world’s condition is the sundering of metaphysics from epistemology, and the consequent refiguring of knowledge as power. An attentive theological imaginary will provide a way through the deadlock that is competing narratives of power and desire, embodied in the crises of the good in the liberal nation state, the market, mass surveillance, ecological catastrophe, and various other everyday concretizations of this radicalized immanentism. As such, the series offers a venue in which various arenas of late-modern life can be re-thought on the ground of an alternate economy of desire and grace. Drawing on both ancient resources within the Christian tradition, and the best of contemporary scholarship, these pieces will seek to offer provocative interventions into the current moral and political landscape for the formation of the church as the embodiment of an alternate order. Hence, the pieces will engage arena diverse as the biomedical sciences, the crisis of race and mass incarceration, impending ecological apocalypse, displaced peoples in a radically entangled world, the manifestation of state power as surveillance, and other such issues of pressing concern. The urgency and complexity of these issues require, in the same way as in the wake of the two word wars, thoughtful theological dexterity to be displayed for the sake of the church, and, crucially, for the sake of the healing of the world.

Dispatches will, as presented above, illuminate and explore, creatively and concisely, the implications/ relevance of theology for the global crises of late-modernity. To accomplish this, the series will introduce succinct and provocative arguments to be released periodically over the next several years (beginning 2017), and will seek to offer deep reflections on the problems confronting our present age. The series is, therefore, intended to provoke dialogue and exchange of ideas, while setting in relief the implications of theology for political and moral life.

We have so far gathered a very fine group of scholars to contribute to this series:

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Tentative Titles Contracted:

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Published Titles:

John W. de Gruchy, The End is Not Yet: Standing Firm in Apocalyptic Times (October 2017)

Cyril Hoverun, Political Orthodoxies: The Unorthodoxies of the Church Coerced (October 2018)

John C McDowell, Theology and the Globalized Present: Feasting in the Presence of God (April 2019)

Marcus Pound, Theology, Comedy, Politics (September 2019)