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.
I usually don’t like to blow my own horn, but I’m prepared to make an exception today. The KBBC that awaits you in the coming weeks and months far surpasses anything yet seen. In fact, it is itself at least equal to – and I think superior to – all the KBBCs that have come before, combined.
The 2010 KBBC is comprised of three sets of week-long mini-conferences. Or, you can think of it as three conference sessions. The overarching theme is ”Karl Barth in Conversation with…”, where the blank is filled by some significant thinker or field. Each conference session contains plenary posts and responses that cluster into sub-conversations. So, the first session – which begins tomorrow! – deals with Barth in conversation with dogmaticians, the second session puts Barth in conversation with broader fields or disciplines, and the third session puts Barth in conversation with (mostly) contemporary and more philosophical dialogue partners. Posts with a preview of each session, as well as biographical information on that session’s contributors, will go up immediately prior to that session’s commencement. Watch for another post later today with that information about the first session.
Now, there is one further official announcement that I need to make (although some rumors about this have already been bouncing around). Thanks to the forward thinking of Wipf & Stock Publishers, a revised and expanded form of the 2010 KBBC proceedings will be published as a book! The interest generated in comments by the various KBBC contributions will play a part in determining which portions of the conference make it into the book, so be sure to get in there and participate in the conversation if you see something that interests you. In any case, I’d like to give a special thanks to our friends over at W&S for being willing to take a shot on this sort of a project.
However, the publishing industry is not today like it used to be. Authors must sometimes be expected to contribute to the cost of production, for instance. So, I am asking that you faithful and new KBBC readers consider contributing to the cause. You can follow this link, or use the “Donate” button on the top of the right side-bar, to make a secure donation through PayPal (let me know ASAP if something is not working properly). A dollar here and a dollar there really helps, so don’t hesitate. I’m thankful that our plenary authors and respondents have already been very generous. If by some miracle you all donate more than we need, the remainder will be donated to an appropriate charitable cause.
Finally, I want to conclude this lengthy introduction by thanking my good friend and colleague, David Congdon, for helping me coordinate this year’s conference. David and I have plotted and schemed together about all manner of things in the 6 years that we’ve been at PTS together, and I couldn’t have pulled off this year’s KBBC without his help.
So, to recap:
- This year’s KBBC is going to be awesome!
- The first session starts tomorrow.
- Another post later will give the session line-up and biographical information on the session’s contributors.
- We’re making this into a book! Please donate.