CFP: Christian Atheism (5/19/05; RSA, 3/23/06-3/25/06)

full name / name of organization: 
John Parker
contact email: 

Call For Papers: Christian Atheism (5/19/05; RSA 3/23-5/06)

Panel Proposed for the 2006 Renaissance Society
of America Annual Meeting in San Francisco, March

Proposals are invited to consider the extent to
which early modern atheism, such as it was, was a
sub-species of Christian thought. To what extent
does Christian theology, in any of its various
formulations from the New Testament to the
Reformation, anticipate or even necessitate the
atheisms that have sometimes been found in the
politics of Machiavelli or Hobbes, the skepticism
of Montaigne and Descartes, the plays of Marlowe,
the rise of empirical science? Is there a
pre-modern tradition of what has been called, by
Thomas Altizer and Slavoj Zizek (among others),
"Christian atheism"? I am thinking in particular
of Christ as the "emptying of God" (kenosis),
crucifixion as the death of God, the empty tomb,
Christianity in its worship of a hidden, unknown
God as a form of atheism vis-à-vis the
identifiable pagan gods, non-being or nothingness
as a name for God in the negative theologies of
Pseudo-Dionysius, Eriugena, John of Damascus,
Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, and Luther's theology
of the cross. Does this field of inquiry bear on
the broader question of secularization? Are
there modern cultural theorists whose atheism
might be used to better understand the
Christianity of early and pre-modernity, having
themselves grown out of it? Or is there,
alternately, a radical break between the
godlessness on which Christianity thrives -
atheism as "the thought of another" (Greenblatt)
- and atheism proper?

Please send abstracts (max. 150 words) to John
Parker ( by May 19, 2005.

John Parker
Assistant Professor
Department of English and American Literature and Language
Harvard University
Barker Center
12 Quincy St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Received on Mon Apr 11 2005 - 21:11:20 EDT