Thursday, January 12, 2012

Die Evangelischen Theologen

Attentive readers may have noticed that there's something different about DET. Indeed, there is something very different. For DET has transformed from "Der Evangelische Theologe" to "Die Evangelischen Theologen."

You may ask, Why the change?

While I was in Princeton to defend my dissertation, circumstances and conversations lead me to reminisce about the "good ol' days" of theo-blogging and the current decline in the practice. Put simply, all the old theo-blogs that were my fellow travelers have ground to a halt and - indeed - my own work here at DET has slowed considerably under the strain of assuming the rigorous responsibilities of full time academic teaching.

This saddens me.

My experience as a theology blogger has been profoundly positive. For instance, I have "met" (both online and in the flesh) interesting people that I would not have otherwise connected with, and I have ceased to be surprised when an e-mail lands in my inbox from some heretofore unknown theological student who reads the blog and wants to discuss something with me or is interested to hear my thoughts on this or that institution to which they are applying.

But most importantly, theology blogging provided me with a community of theological fellow travelers at precisely the stage in my intellectual development that I needed them most. Through web interaction, a group of us identified each other, formed a sort of inchoate group identity, and proceeded in a dynamic and free-form way to shoulder the ever-important burden of discerning what we believed to be the pressing theological issues of our own time.

This was an overwhelmingly positive and incalculably valuable development. But when I look around at theology blogs today, it is precisely this that I miss. Perhaps this continues to occur and I just don't know where to look, but it has all but disappeared if what makes it through the web to my terminal is any trustworthy indication (and quite a bit of things make it to my terminal from the far-flung reaches of theo-blogging-dom). So I decided to take action and foster such theological development in whatever small measure I could.

The changes here at DET are the fruit of that determination. Rather than remaining only my personal blog, I have invited a number of theological students from various stages of their academic careers to join me here in a communal endeavor to foster theological community through blogging. You can read about these intrepid individuals on the new Contributors page in the top menu. You may also read more about this renewed vision for DET in the new About page, also accessible in the top menu.

These contributors will be introducing themselves in the coming weeks (most of them are first-time bloggers) as we begin the task of theological engagement with one another. I hope that you, gentle reader, will join with us and make yourself an integral part of that undertaking. It can be hard work, but I believe that we are all up to it, and that the cost/benefit analysis is highly favorable.

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7 comments:

Jon Coutts said...

Right on. Looking forward to more.

david driedger said...

Fantastic. I have been mourning the decline for some time. And current conversations, where they do occur, have not been very satisfying. I also wonder sometimes if there is some hot bed of theo-blogging that is somehow unknown to old-schoolers . . . but I doubt it.
And it seems that whatever I am doing does not garner very broad interest so I hope this proves successful.

Evan said...

Great idea! Best of luck with the endeavor.

W. Travis McMaken said...

Thanks, all, for the encouragement. Spread the word!

Kevin Davis said...

Ah yes, I remember those days! I've really enjoyed getting some insight into what other schools are doing/thinking, especially with the dominance of all you Princeton folks in the blogosphere.

Blogging seems to follow certain trending issues that excite our intellectual creativity (e.g., Barthian critique of cultural idols). But, I'm interested to know if we can actually just do straight-forward dogmatics in our blogging, as I tried to do earlier in my blogging days (von Balthasar's aesthetics, Forsyth's doctrine of Scripture, etc.), instead of just expounding upon points of cultural contact. That may be less exciting, but probably healthier for the theo-blogging world.

W. Travis McMaken said...

Hi Kevin,

You're right to point out the institutional factor in the theo-blogs and how they are a good way to keep track of up-and-coming developments. DET is somewhat unique in this as while there is a strong PTS presence, there are other schools represented as well.

I think you're right that theo-blogging can lend itself to being tossed by every wind of doctrine, but I don't think that is necessarily the case. That might be the best way to go if you're gunning for commenting numbers, but I've always been more interested in the educational aspects of blogs - teaching myself first and foremost, and (perhaps) teaching readers as a secondary consequence of that. In that sense, I think there is definitely room for more sober reflection.

Michael Leyden... said...

Great idea! I'm pleased you're doing this. I've been greatly encouraged by your blogging in the past - as a full time minister and part-time academic keeping up with blogs has been one way of keeping my mind active. Thanks, and I look forward to what's to come.