Highlights from ‘Radicalism, Violence and Religious Texts’ Day 1 #RVRT2015

Caroline Blyth:

Here at Auckland Theology and Religion, we have just spent the past two days hosting a Radicalism, Violence and Religious Texts colloquium, with some fabulous international scholars delivering a range of fascinating papers. Our very own Robert Myles has offered a pictorial commentary on Day 1 of the colloquium over at his own blog, The Bible and Class Struggle, so I thought I’d share it here too. We look forward to the news about day 2.
Also, don’t forget, Erin Runions’ lecture on Darren Aronofsky’s movie ‘Noah’ brings the colloquium to an official end on Monday 14 September, 5.30pm at the University of Auckland. Further details can be found here.

Originally posted on The Bible & Class Struggle:

A number of biblical and religious scholars are currently meeting in Auckland, New Zealand for an academic colloquium on the theme of Radicalism, Violence and Religious Texts. The proceedings began on Wednesday night with a public lecture by Roland Boer exploring the question: “What does Marxism have to do with Religion?” A video recording will be available on Youtube in the coming weeks.


The next morning, Erin Runions launched the day with her insightful paper on the Biopolitical Bible: Conservative Christianity, Capitalized Bodies, and the Subject of Interest in the U.S.


The radical Reverened James Harding then spoke on Homophobia and Masculine Domination in Judges 19-21 while also posing for some hilarious photographs.


Next up, Yael Klangwisan gave a superb paper on the notion of the militarized woman, with a focus on exploring biblical echoes and allusions in the recent release Mad Max: Fury Road.


Then it was my turn to shine. In “The Fetish…

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Erin Runions public lecture

Erin portraitAs well as being seriously excited about our upcoming Radicalism, Violence, and Religious Texts colloquium (10-11 September), Theology and Religion and Auckland are delighted to announce another public lecture as part of this project. Professor Erin Runions (Ponoma College, California) will be delivering a public lecture titled ‘The Temptation of Noah: The Debate about Patriarchy in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah‘ on 14 September at 5.30pm. Erin’s work draws together contemporary issues of biopolitics, culture, race, gender, and considers these in light of the Bible’s reception. Her previous books include How Hysterical: Identification and Resistance in the Bible and Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty (Fordham University Press, 2014). She has also been an activist for many years, working on issues of police brutality and prison injustice, globalization, antiwar activism, feminist and queer organizing. We are absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Erin to Auckland and feel very honoured she has agreed to do this lecture for us. Full details are below, as well as a link to the poster. Everyone is welcome so we hope to see you there!

Erin Runions, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Affiliate Faculty of Gender and Women’s Studies, Pomona College, California
The Temptation of Noah:
The Debate about Patriarchy in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

Monday 14 September, 5.30pm
Room 315, Arts 1 (Building 206)
The University of Auckland

Noah, the biblically inspired film co-written and directed by Darren Aronofsky uses violence toward women to fuel its plotline, even as it heroizes a patriarchal figure.
Yet just how the film judges its protagonist is unclear. Attention to its Jewish pre-texts and to the composition of the film raises questions about its seemingly positive evaluation of Noah and his mission. The film’s mostly visual subtext about temptation, when read alongside a rabbinic critique of Noah suggests that Noah’s violent response to his visions, the flood, and his family perhaps cannot be called righteous after all.

noah_scream Click here to download lecture poster

Psalm writing 101

This semester, I’m teaching a class on Wisdom Literature and the Psalms. Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve looked closely at different types of psalms found in the Psalter and considered the various literary techniques used by the psalmist to convey their particular rhetoric. And, for today’s class, the students are going to apply what they’ve learned to a creative exercise, and will try their hand at writing their own contemporary psalm.

To give them a sense of what I’m after, I wrote a psalm myself, which contains some literary features common to the psalms (e.g. parallelism, alliteration, similes, metaphors, chiasm, inclusio, etc). It is an ode to the Kea, the ferry I get every morning from North Shore to Auckland’s CBD. I thought I’d share it with you, and, once the students have finished composing their own psalms, I’ll share some of these with you too in the coming weeks.


Psalm to the Kea

1 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!

2 You sashay through the breakers like a great sea dragon,

Like Leviathan, across the waves you stretch and prance.

3 Carrying your people aloft from the Great North Shore,

You deliver us across the expanse to the CBD coastline.

4 Every morning we wait for you to visit us,

Like the rising of the golden sun, you never fail to appear.

5 Every evening we stand, tired and thirsting for you,

Like the silver moon, you lead us home to rest.

6 When stormy seas surround you, slashing at your bows,

You push them aside with ease – your strength is so great!

7 Though mighty winds attack you, I do not fear,

For I am nestled in your womb, and know you will prevail.

8 Your café bar brings succour to the weary,

Your wines and expressos revive their shattered souls.

9 You, and you alone, deliver us from the trials of traffic torture,

From tooting horns and car fumes that conspire to choke us.

10 Instead, you revive our spirits with salty breezes and soft sunshine,

You delight us with panoramic views of the Auckland skyline,

Our hearts leap with joy as you soar over the breakers.

11 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!

Is Housing a Human Right?

State houses at Arapuni Hydro Works

Dr Zain Ali of the Islamic Studies Research Unit, along with the Auckland Interfaith Council and the Child Poverty Action Group have organised this meeting on a subject that affects most Aucklanders (and mostly in a bad way for the young, those on even middling salaries, and those who are renting):

Is Housing a Human Right? A Public Dialogue

  • Paul Barber, New Zealand Council for Christian Social Services
  • Dr Clair Dale, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Rau Hoskins, Te Matapihi – National Māori Housing Organisation
  • Professor Paul Morris, UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations, Victoria University

7pm, Monday 31st Augusts, Saint Matthew in the City, corner of Hobson and Wellesley Streets.

For more information contact Zain Ali, zali003@auckland.ac.nz, 021 164 0093

(Feel free to share the attached Poster)

August seminar: Escaped Nuns and New Zealand Religious History

For those of you in the Auckland area, here are details of our August Theology and Religion seminar, presented by our very own Dr Nick Thompson. Not to be missed.

The Escaped Nun: Taking the Sectarian Temperature of
Nineteenth Century New Zealand
3-4pm, Friday 14 August, 206-201 (Arts 1).
Maria MonkBetween October 1885 and March 1886 the “Escaped Nun,” Edith O’Gorman, lectured her way around the cities and towns of New Zealand on a tour hosted by the Grand Orange Lodge. When O’Gorman arrived here she was already a veteran of the international circuit for anti-Catholic lecturers. Her career began in 1868, when she left her convent in New Jersey, and she continued to make a living on the anti-popery platform almost until of her death in London in 1929. Her exposé on the horrors of convent life and perils of the confessional was a best-seller, which ran into dozens of editions, and was still being published in the 1950s.In New Zealand, as in the US and UK, O’Gorman’s lectures drew large and apparently appreciative audiences. The international scope of her activity allows us to make comparisons between her reception in New Zealand and elsewhere in the English-speaking world at the same time, and thus to assess whether 19th century New Zealand was quite as religiously tolerant or indifferent as has sometimes been claimed.

Auckland Religion Podcast

Click here to subscribe to the all new Auckland Religion podcast which will showcase audio recordings from selected seminar talks and public lectures in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Auckland. The first episode is now live, and features Dr Sean Durbin’s (University of Newcastle, Australia) talk from last week to the Theology Research Seminar.

Upcoming Theology Research Seminar Presentation by Dr Sean Durbin

Information about an upcoming Theology Research Seminar presentation next Friday at the University of Auckland by Dr Sean Durbin from the University of Newcastle in Australia. All are welcome to attend…

‘It is what it is’: Myth-Making and Identity Formation on a Christian Zionist Tour of Israel

Dr Sean Durbin, University of Newcastle

Date: 2-3pm, Friday 17th July
Location: Arts 1, Room 201

235This talk will critically examine the ways that evangelical pastors and Israeli tour guides employ religious language at various sites of interest on a Christian Zionist tour of Israel. It argues that applying religious discourse to descriptions of seemingly ordinary sites such as landscapes serves to mystify and naturalise what are otherwise highly contested political realities, by reframing them as manifestations of God’s will. Second, the talk will consider the way these rhetorical techniques work to reframe the touring group’s identity as more authentically Christian in relation to other Christian groups who visit different sites of interest in the region.