Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Significant new article from Michel René Barnes

I was pleased to find a new article by Michel René Barnes in the latest issue of Nova et Vetera. His 40 page essay, "Irenaeus's Trinitarian Theology" intends,

"to describe Irenaeus's Trinitarian theology as thoroughly as I can, short of a monograph, by close readings of what I regard as key passages in Irenaeus's writings, and by situating that theology within the context of Trinitarian theologies of the second half of the second century A.D." (67).

The essay was apparently written during his recent sabbatical and in relative seclusion from university libraries, so that a band of his Marquette students are acknowledged in a note for their research assistance. Barnes is also working on two books, one on Augustine's trinitarian theology and one on the Holy Spirit in the early church. I don't know what a sabbatical away from libraries means for these projects, but apparently he's managed to complete a pretty substantial study nonetheless.

This article will be a great benefit to Irenaeus scholarship as it fills a significant gap in the literature; it follows Barnes' general interest in both trinitarian theology and pneumatology as they develop during the patristic period. From what I've read so far, Barnes has emphasized the Stoic influence on Irenaeus (while recognizing that this doesn't preclude the more obvious influences, such as the Johannine tradition), and has already coined a term, "Spirit Monarchianism", to distinguish a particular theological branch of thought (I take this sort of coining to be somewhat of a past time for Barnes).

This is also a significant event for Nova et Vetera, I would say. The journal was not launched all that long ago by Ave Maria, and a thick contribution of this sort marks the English edition of this international journal as a place to go for significant scholarship in historical theology.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

Caritas in Veritate is apparently finished and signed by the pope. It is not currently available to the public, and will apparently become available on July 6th or 7th.

There are some leaked excerpts available- follow the above link. The encyclical will discuss various social themes, and presumably build upon the theological foundations of Benedict XVI's first two encyclicals.

UPDATE: Caritas in Veritate has been published and can be viewed at the Vatican website. Ignatius Press will distribute the English translations in three different formats.

Hegel study out in paperback

Dale Schlitt's Divine Subjectivity: Understanding Hegel's Philosophy of Religion is out in paperback for the first time. Schlitt is, along with Peter Hodgson, one of the best places to go for good work on Hegel's theology. His dissertation, Hegel's Trinitarian Claim, was published with Brill in 1984, and if you can get your hands on it, it's also worth reading.

Friday, June 26, 2009

French, German, Russian academic matters...

  • Michèle Lamont discusses reform measures proposed by the Sarkozy government for French universities, reactions from faculty, and comparison to some aspects of the U.S. system. Be sure to read her earlier guest posts as well (here, here), which discuss academic disciplines in light of her recent book.
  • An article in The Economist on "Germany's mediocre universities" and what needs to be done about them. Be sure to read the comment section, however, as there are some good critiques of where the article falters.
  • The AHA has written a letter to the Medvedev government criticizing a recently created commission with a mandate to control history damaging to "the interests of Russia".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fun facebook group on Elsevier...

Last post for the day, I promise. There is some traffic coming through facebook to my latest Elsevier post, so apparently I've been linked by someone (hello, Londoners! Feel free to drop me an email, whoever you are!). While you're on facebook, you might want to check out this group that I just found:

Friends don't let friends publish in Elsevier journals.

Speaking of which, I did end up writing a note and emailing it to the Centre for Intellectual History... we'll see what comes of it.

Miguel Díaz picked as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

This news is a little old, but somehow I missed it... Obama has chosen Miguel Díaz as the next ambassador to the Vatican. Díaz is a rising theologian, studied at Notre Dame, teaching now at St. John's. This is great news, following the aborted (yes, that was intended) possibility of Caroline Kennedy taking the post. Bush had also made a good appointment with Mary Ann Glendon... what I appreciate about these sorts of choices is their ability to understand the issues implicit in diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Maybe it's just my bias about people in academia, but someone like Díaz seems much better positioned than a politician or a businessperson to get this particular job done. The concerns of the Vatican are just different than the concerns of other states, and I think the ambassador should reflect such differences as well.

I don't know when the confirmation will take place, but I can't imagine there will be any great difficulty for him. The loudest (and they haven't been very loud) grumblings have been from conservatives, but a Rahnerian nominee isn't a bad choice for anyone with a serious concern about U.S.-Vatican relations, whatever their theological differences may be. Another interesting aspect of Díaz's nomination is that he is not only Cuban-American, but was born in Havanna. Perhaps this choice will follow in the footsteps of John Paul II's Cuban ties and expose a new face of U.S./Cuban relations, which I take to be currently a bit overly determined by pervasive public perceptions of who "they" are, in the same way that places like Iran are commonly viewed through various stereotypes.

Ecumenical Ecclesiology- available for pre-order discount

My 2008 article in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal is being reprinted this fall as a chapter in the latest volume of the Ecclesiological Investigations series at T&T Clark. At $130 for 240 pages, I don't imagine that this volume will sell too much further than academic libraries, but there is a substantial pre-order discount available at Amazon.com. You would end up saving almost $50, but the volume would still be a hefty $80. For those who do research in ecclesiology, however, you might decide that it's worth the cost. Just a heads-up (and a plug for my own contribution, of course!). The book is due out October 31st.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More scandal from Elsevier...

I mentioned a number of well-publicized scandals from the publisher Elsevier here in my recent call to urge a good journal to take their work elsewhere. Had I waited a few days, I could have added this one to the list of Elsevier's transgressions. Apparently Elsevier offered to pay people who gave 5-star reviews to one of their textbooks on the Barnes & Noble website.

As the company seems to be hemorrhaging ethical scandals, I suppose I really should get around to drafting that letter to the Centre for Intellectual History.

Ecumenical Recognition of the Anglican Church of North America

The following is from a fellow parishioner, now attending the ACNA provincial assembly and live-blogging on it. I've included this section in particular to highlight a very important point about the ecumenical legitimacy of the new province. All those who think that the current actions are the result of renegade conservatives unconcerned with church unity or even outright abandoning it, this is important to read:

One of the major developments I think has gone virtually unnoticed. During the ratification process, we heard greetings delivered by representatives of those Anglican Provinces which had sent delegations to the assembly in support for the ACNA. The six GAFCON provinces were represented. Kenya and West Africa sent their primates. Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and the Southern Cone sent official representatives since the dates for the ACNA assembly coincided with their own synods.

All this was to be expected, since those six primates had called for the forming of the ACNA nearly a year ago at the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem. What was not expected was the addition of three new provinces that have sent official delegations (and de facto recognition) of the ACNA: Myanmar, Southeast Asia and Jerusalem and the Middle East. These last two are highly significant. ++John Chew of Southeast Asia and ++Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East were the two Global South primates who attended Lambeth and not GAFCON. They indicated at the time that they would work for reform through the structures of the Anglican Communion as constituted in the instruments of Unity (Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meeting). These two, ++Chew and ++Anis, have now indicated their willingness to support developments outside the present structures of the Anglican Communion. The "inside strategy" of ++Chew and ++Anis and the "outside strategy" of ++Akinola, ++Orombi, ++Kolini, ++Nzimbi, ++Venables and ++Akrofi have come together in support and recognition of the ACNA as fellow partner in the Anglican Communion.

It was also interesting to note that the Church of England sent unofficial observers and that the Anglican Communion Office sent a Pastoral Visitor, presumably at the request of ++Rowan Williams. I'm not sure exactly what that signifies, but I do know that there will be some consternation in the leadership of both TEC and the ACoC that Lambeth Palace recognized that something important was going on in Bedford, Texas.

The list of ecumenical guests was surprising, both those who are present -- and those who aren't. Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America will give one of the plenary addresses. The Roman Catholic bishop of Fort Worth is here along with Bp. Walter Grundorf of the Anglican Province of America. The Missouri Synod Lutherans sent a representative along with Saddleback Church. Apart from Rick Warren of Saddleback, all of the ecumenical observers are from the historic liturgical churches (Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran). Missing in action are all the mainline denominations. Somewhat surprisingly, there are no observers here from the conservative, non-liturgical denominations like the Southern Baptists and the PCA.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ACNA Provincial Assembly information...

The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) Provincial Assembly is meeting this week to ratify the constitution and canons of the new province. Below are some helpful places to learn more about what's going on:

  • a three-minute introductory video on the ACNA Provincial Assembly, which will meet in Bedford, Texas, next week. The gathering of the Common Cause Partners will mark both "the end of the beginning" (Fr. DaveRoseberry) and at the same time the creation of "a sturdy skeleton on which the body of a church can be built" (Bp. Bob Duncan). All are agreed that the ACNA will be a missionary church focused on bringing many to Christ.

  • here is the website devoted to the ACNA Assembly which will post lots of photos and reflections. You can also follow the Assembly on Twitter as well as download the Constitution and Canons that delegates will discuss for ratification. Lots of fact sheets, too.

  • Anglican TV wil be live streaming much of the ACNA Provincial Assembly, including the plenary sessions with Rick Warren and Metropolitan Jonah (OCA). Of special interest will be the installation of Bp Bob Duncan as Archbishop and Primate of the North America (Wed. 7:30 pm CDT). You might also want to catch the Anglican Primates' Panel (Tues. 8:45 pm CDT). More than a dozen Anglican provinces are expected to send representatives. All events will be archived for future viewing as well.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Does anyone use academia.edu? My brother pointed it out to me a little while ago and I have a personal page, but haven't done too much with it except load some information up on it. The site strikes me as sort of an academic version of facebook, where people can network and post various social-network inanities. I figure it doesn't hurt to be up there, though, and it's easy to load your papers and research interests so that other people can see them.

I'd encourage you to start an account, and if you do, be sure to add me as a contact! I believe they ask for an insitutional email address to confirm your identity, but I know I've seen independent researchers on the site, so there must be a way to give your personal email if you aren't tied to an institution as a student or professor.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lias: Sources and Documents Relating to the Early Modern History of Ideas

Lias covers early modern intellectual history, with a focus on sources and documents. While it doesn't appear to have a wide circulation and the website (see here) is rather uninformative, the first 31 volumes (1974-2004) are available in fulltext. There is also an index volume available in PDF covering 1974-1998, which may make searching easier. I came across this because of a recent article that my professor published in the journal, so I don't know how widely this journal is used by intellectual historians. But the work in it looks superb, as far as I can tell from my brief experience.

UPDATE: APA, the publisher of Lias, has kindly provided further information on the journal, which can be found here. Many thanks for this assistance.

UPDATE (May 2010): Lias is now being published by Peeters.

Clavi Non Defixi turns 1

On this day a year ago, the first post of clavi non defixi went up.

Some stats since then:
  • this is post #199
  • 8,702 Visits
  • 14,215 Pageviews
  • Visitors came from 87 different countries/territories
  • This blog has 25 subscribers, and 2 followers. Thanks for your interest, everyone!

I've very much enjoyed my experience with blogging over the past year, and look forward to year #2. I hope that my focus on theology from the perspective of research and scholarly work has been helpful to readers; I think it works well for me and that's how I plan on continuing. Please let me know if you'd be interested in hearing about anything in particular over the next year- I'd be happy to visit or revisit certain topics that are of special concern to people. As regular readers have probably noticed, I stray into philosophy often enough and the blog has become more interdisciplinary over the course of the past year... I imagine it will stay that way. Also, I have posted a good bit lately on some problems in academia that someone needs to start fixin' (specifically with periodical literature of late), and I hope to continue with more of that as well.

Also, thanks to Ben Myers... having a link from you always makes a difference, and I appreciate the hospitality of F&T as somewhat of a center for many theological bloggers. Also thanks to everyone else I've met over the past year- it's been a great time getting into blogging.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An article by Melody Layton McMahon on the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

You may remember the flurry of commentary on the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, edited by George Kurian, published and then withdrawn by Wiley-Blackwell after the board of editors raised concerns about the encyclopedia's objectivity and scholarly appropriateness. I blogged on the issue (see the posts here) and attracted a good deal of attention to clavi non defixi, mostly because letters from George Kurian (the editor) and Susan Spilka (from Wiley-Blackwell) were posted here.

Melody Layton McMahon, of Catholic Theological Union and ATLA, has just published a wonderful article on the matter in Theological Librarianship, the journal of the American Theological Library Association.

"Librarians, Publishers, and Theological Reference Resources: A Way Forward" discusses not only the current problem of the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, but also the World Christian Encyclopedia and the New Catholic Encyclopedia, to reflect on the perils of inadequate reference materials and how librarians should deal with publishers on these matters. McMahon discusses two primary problems with theological reference works: "bias in the content and a lack of transparency about how the content of a given work relates to the marketing of the work." One might add to these the problem of, "stuff that's just plain crappy scholarship", but McMahon is much too professional to phrase it this way, and in any case covers that base well enough in the two categories that she addresses. ;)

McMahon offers a helpful look at librarians active in managing these problems for theological research, drawing from conversations on a theological librarian listserv and from various blogs. This is especially good to see for those who haven't worked in libraries... it has been a great experience for me, heading towards professoring, to work here at a college library and gain a better perspective on some very important parts of scholarly work that researchers can sometimes ignore. With the proliferation of academic literature and a lot of corners being cut by editors and publishers, there's a huge need for discernment and discrimination, and this is what McMahon lays out.

McMahon also discusses blogging at some length, and I think her point is an important one to make:
Should we be surprised [...] to read current blog and online news source headlines such as “Christophobia on the March?” or “Too Christian for Academia,” or “Encyclopedia Project Stirs Heated Argument” with reference to the new Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization? What has changed is that none of these commentaries offer review at the same serious level of the earlier examples by Malcheski or Brennan. The new discussion forums such as blogs have made it even easier for bystanders to take up a cause without taking a serious look at the real issues involved. Immediately some bloggers and their commentators jumped to the conclusion that Wiley-Blackwell, the publisher of Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, was “anti-Christian” as were the members of the editorial board. One blogger, for example, concluded that the aim of Wiley-Blackwell was to sanitize it of any pro-Christian statements. One uninformed commentator even suggested that secular publishers do not or will not publish works on Christianity. (12)

The extent to which this phenomenon was present during the course of February and March was really astonishing. Bloggers were either 1) livid about imaginary godless conspiracies of the publishing elite or 2) more concerned with pushing an eye-catching story of controversy than discussing what was really important about the affair. Clavi non defixi was repeatedly cited in order to quote Kurian or Spilka (usually Kurian, because his words fanned the flames better), but no one was much interested in my assessment of the matter (I at first simply brought it up as a possible cause of concern, and as more information came out I sided with Wiley-Blackwell and urged sensibleness about the editorial process and objectivity in scholarship). There was some good conversation in the comment boxes where some contributors voiced their opinions and knowledge, but in the blogosphere and the news, this story was all about the intrigue.

Within such a context, the work of people like McMahon is very much needed, and I commend her article to you. Theological Librarianship is worth bookmarking too; it is an open-access journal with peer-reviewed articles as well as essays, columns, bibliographic essays, and book reviews. The book reviews tend to cover the sorts of reference works that McMahon discusses here (not "bad" ones, but encyclopedias and dictionaries and such... also, there are reviews of online resources). While the journal is geared towards theological librarians, it will also benefit theological scholars more generally by offering an awareness of what is out there and how libraries work as research institutions in their own right.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A few items...

  • Some information on Benedict XVI's third encyclical (Veritas in Caritate), to be published at the end of the month.
  • An article written by a friend from Wheaton who's also at Chicago now; James interviews Jean Bethke Elshtain about Václav Havel, politics, language, and the public sphere.
  • An interview from 2007 with the co-executive editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas. This interview is a part of "Periodical Radio", a series of interviews with journals and magazines of all sorts... worth perusing the other interviews as well.
  • A new venture for those in the Chicago area, the Chicago Consortium for German Philosophy. The consortium will host lectures, reading groups, and connect faculty and students in the Chicago area to discuss the German philosophical tradition, beginning with Kant and German Idealism.
  • Also, a helpful comment from Anonymous about a search engine for free e-journals, at my recent post on institutional pricing for theology journals. I plan on posting about open access next in my (what seems to be evolving into a series of) posts about academic journals, so stay tuned. I'd also add to Anonymous' suggestion that DOAJ is a good place to go to find open access periodicals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Elsewhere than Elsevier... more on the crisis in academic journals

A few days ago I posted on the burden of incredibly expensive periodicals, noting that while we humanities folks don't know the half of it, our own situation is still very problematic. In addition, if budgets are stretched by science journals, it hurts all of us, even those who aren't involved in these fields. Institutional resources are unfortunately a zero-sum game.

But what can we do about it?

Maybe not much as individual scholars, although I noted in my previous post that we could choose where to publish with a bit more discrimination. I think a lot of the heavy lifting will have to be done by committees, libraries, and associations working with publishers to make the situation more manageable. It may be helpful, however, to write to editorial boards or scholarly associations that put out a journal, letting them know that we value the work they do and would like to see it in good publishing hands. I imagine that voicing some concern would go a long way in getting people moving on this.

I think I may do just that for a journal that isn't specifically concerned with theology, but that I think might benefit from a word of encouragement and concern:

A little while back I shared two journals in European intellectual history that I thought were worthwhile places to do research. One of them, History of European Ideas, is (unfortunately) published by the notorious Elsevier.

Elsevier has a portfolio of over 2,000 journals, mostly in the sciences. A good deal of controversy has surrounded the publisher, especially concerning numerous fake medical journals propped up by Big Pharma money. There has also been some raised eyebrows about the quality of Elsevier journals more generally, including a mathematics journal with a controversial editor who publishes a prolific amount of self-citations and (apparently) nonsense. Apparently the publisher has even supported arms fairs (wow.), bringing the military-industrial complex to our academic doorstep.

Some organizations have made strong calls for Elsevier to reform this sort of corruption, and there were boycotts of Elsevier titles six years ago over high prices. More recently, boycotts have been effective against the arms sale funding with which they were involved.

I come to this a bit late in the game, then, and my interest is not in any of Elsevier's main subject areas. So I'm not intending to propose anything radical. But History of European Ideas is a good journal. It is a publication of the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History, which also publishes the journal History of Science. Interestingly, History of Science is not put out by Elsevier, but rather by the smaller Science History Publications Ltd.-- and at a fraction of the cost to libraries. History of European Ideas has a yearly institutional subscription of $753, while History of Science has a subscription of $255.

I see no reason why a good journal like this needs to be burdened by an association with Elsevier. As Henry Farrell of The Crooked Timber put it, "friends don't let friends publish in Elsevier journals." Yet this Elsevier journal strikes me as one that is genuinely worth keeping around. It may be worth writing to the editor of History of European Ideas and to the Centre for Intellectual History, suggesting that they consider the possibility of publishing elsewhere than Elsevier.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Changes in the editorial board of the Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie

The March 2009 issue of the Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie announced some significant additions to the editorial board of the journal. New members include Sarah Coakley, Werner Jeanrond, Risto Saarinen, and Miroslav Volf.

From the opening editorial:

As in earlier years, the new Editorial Board comprises many ecclesial and theological traditions. A common link between all members of the Editorial Board is that they see the theological insights of the Reformation, especially Luther’s theology, as a constant critical and constructive reference-point of their theological work. In this way they try to do justice to the fact that the Reformation never intended to create a purely confessional church and theology but claimed that its insights had a common Christian significance which today we have to express in all contexts of our globalised Lebenswelt. In this way the Editorial Board continues the profile of the Neue Zeitschrift in a new and transformed situation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception

A very exciting new reference is starting to make its way into print from Walter de Gruyter. The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception is a projected 30-volume work covering all aspects of biblical formation, development, and interpretation. The history of exegesis is one of the most important new developments in theology and religious studies over the past few decades, and a resource like this is a welcome addition to the literature.

The following is from the useful introduction to the background of the project:
There currently exists no encyclopedia that summarizes and synthesizes the vast current knowledge of biblical studies and allied disciplines while creating links, identifying problematic areas and lacunae in scholarship, and stimulating new research. Nor has any encyclopedic effort been made to take stock of the major shift that has occurred in most disciplines of the humanities during the last two decades of the 20th century and the initial years of the 21st to an orientation informed by what has come to be called “cultural studies.”

Biblical studies have participated in this interdisciplinary exchange and have been further enhanced by a burgeoning interest in reception history, a scholarly enterprise whose literary-historical roots extend back to late 19th-century Stoffgeschichte (the study of themes) and its expansion into 20th-century Wirkungsgeschichte (the study of effects), and whose development was abetted by the popularity of reader-response theory in literary studies during the closing decades of the 20th century. Today, aside from the classic historical questions about the conditions and circumstances of the Bible’s origins, inquiries into the reception and culture-forming influence of the Bible draw considerable attention. As a now wellestablished branch of biblical studies, Auslegungsgeschichte (history of exegesis) continues to contribute to the debate about the meanings of the biblical texts as they have been expounded in the histories of Judaism and Christianity. In addition, there is increasing attention among scholars to the reception and adaptation of biblical themes, motifs, and characters in music, art, literature, and film, as well as in Islam and various non-monotheistic religious traditions and new religious movements. Such studies have shown how biblical traditions have transcended the realms of church and synagogue and entered the cultural consciousness not only of Western societies but of other cultures as well.

The first two volumes of the encyclopedia are coming out either this month or next... I've seen some conflicting dates. Volume 1 will cover Aaron–Aniconism, and Volume 2 will cover Anim–Atheism.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Institutional pricing for theology periodicals

I was just speaking with co-worker that had been to a CARLI (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries of Illinois) meeting on monograph collections. Apparently the meeting turned towards periodical collections because of the extent to which periodical pricing is putting strain on research library budgets. Some schools said that at the rate prices were going, they wouldn't be able to sustain any monograph budget at all if they remained subscribed to the same journals that they are now. Things are that bad.

As I understand it, the problem is much worse in the sciences than in the humanities. Things aren't as bad in places like Wheaton, where we don't require materials for the sciences that would sustain a doctoral-level program. But the pricing still adds up, and in bible colleges, seminaries, or Christian liberal arts colleges that might not have to deal so much with the scientific periodicals, there is on the other hand a lack of money on the scale of research universities... so the crisis, if smaller by the measure of raw numbers, can still be just as problematic when the proportions are taken into account. It's worth considering these sorts of things as theological writers when we decide where to publish- and this goes for monographs as well as articles.

Below is some quick work that I did searching around for institutional subscription rates for some prominent theology journals, trying to get a good spread from the big publishers and some sampling from the smaller publishers or self-published. The list is obviously just a fraction of what's out there- I tried to stick with general theology, tried to hit the big names, and I only covered English-language periodicals (and Brill is the only continental house... I included it more because of its importance as a publisher, although I think that the quality of Brill stuff can be of very uneven quality depending upon the series or subject). There is also no discussion of journal databases and how this would effect libraries, mostly because I'm not knowledgeable enough to speak to it. The numbers below are the institutional print & online prices, and I've also included the publishers of each journal. I've only posted the price for North America.

Please let me know what you think of all this. I'm refraining from comment in the post as there's already a lot of information here, but I do plan on revisiting this some more.

Modern Theology (Wiley-Blackwell), $700
International Journal of Systematic Theology (Wiley-Blackwell), $582
New Blackfriars (Wiley Blackwell), $230

The Journal of Theological Studies
(Oxford), $399
Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Oxford), $193

Vigiliae Christianae
(Brill), $466
Biblical Interpretation (Brill), $435
Ecclesiology (Brill), $263

Harvard Theological Review
(Cambridge), $108
Scottish Journal of Theology (Cambridge), $180

Journal of Religion (Chicago), $233*

Theological Studies
(Sheridan), $40** (print only)

Westminster Theological Journal (self-published), $35 (print only)

Concordia Theological Quarterly and St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, both published by their host institutions, appear to only offer individual print subscriptions at $20 (CTQ) and $50 (SVTQ).

*The Journal of Religion had some confusing pricing. This is the price for "Tier 2" (1,000-2,999 full-time students) institutional access.

**Theological Studies also has a special section for "Global South" individuals and libraries, making their periodical much more affordable to seminaries around the world. Blackwell offers "Developing World" subscriptions for institutions, but not for individuals. Oxford offers similar subscriptions (for JTS, not JAAR) to developing world institutions, but with no online access.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Names and Blogging... thoughts on the outing of John Blevins

A lot has already been written on this since Ed Whelan of the National Review exposed John Blevins, who has blogged under the pseudonym of "publius" at the blog Obsidian Wings. I'm not a reader of Whelan's blog or the one to which Blevins contributed, but it hasn't been that difficult to run across discussion of this in the blogosphere since Saturday.

The spat that ended in the outing apparently concerned criticisms of Judge Sotomayor made by Whelan, and Bevins' responses to them under the name "publius". Eventually Whelan had had enough, decided that Blevins was abusing pseudonymity in order to mount unfair attacks and criticisms, and should be exposed. Whelan has been harshly criticized for outing Blevins, and has issued an apology.

I'm not sure exactly what I think about this, but I at least sympathize with Whelan, even if exposing Blevins was the wrong thing to do. Brian Leiter offers a great extended discussion on this, pointing out:

There are obvious limits upon the intuitively plausible idea that "people should be able to decide for themselves what facts about themselves to reveal." A person should be entitled to decide what facts to reveal when they make reasonable efforts to keep those facts private, but what happens when someone enters the public realm, for example, by writing on a highly-trafficked blog? Is the presumption always as strong?
Given the self-interested reasons that the anonymous and pseudonymous have for overstating the reasons why they can not reveal their identity, it hardly seems reasonable to suppose that one should always err on the side of 'caution,' especially if fairness or other considerations support exposure. (Professor Blevins himself admits he doesn't really know if his being 'outed' will cause him any harm at all; and Jonathan Adler [Case Western], who used to blog under a pseudonym at the Volokh blog, allegedly because he was untenured, in fact wrote and blogged under his own name at The National Review at the very same time, thus belying the idea that his secrecy about his identity served any meaningful interest--and the professional risk is, in any case, non-existent in the case of law faculty, almost all of whom get tenure if they don't fall asleep for six years [there are a handful of schools, Chicago among them, that conduct actual tenure reviews, but even they tenure most candidates].) Surely it is reasonable to expect some independent evidence supporting the claimed need for secrecy.

Brian Leiter himself runs a number of high-traffic blogs, and he 1) blogs with his real name, 2) ain't afraid to be highly caustic with those he criticizes, 3) tends to insist or at least strongly advise posters to use their real name, and finally 4) has been known to expose anonymous or pseudonymous posters/emailers/etc. when he catches them... and this has included some well-known religious intellectuals being caught in the act (I'm sure Leiter would question my use of the term "intellectuals", and I suppose I wouldn't blame him for doing so).

I like this approach. I've never blogged pseudonymously, but I will post anonymously or with an invented name on a blog every once in a while... usually because having my name attached to a passing thought seems more trouble than it's worth, and never in a situation where I'd strongly regret being outed if that ever became the case. First names I think are fine when it isn't a situation where in real life you'd want to know any more than that... full names I suppose would be more helpful if there's really a collaborative or collegial relationship in the blogging situation.

But the value of posting with one's name seems usually to outweigh any benefit provided by pseudonymity. I can understand that hiding one's name provides a bit of license for speaking freely, but such a separation seems dangerous in general. Maybe to society, maybe to the health of discourse, maybe to some implicit ethical contract of blogging... but more than anything, I think it's dangerous to the person speaking through another name. What do we lose (and what new burdens do we bear?) by speaking out without that which indicates ourselves? To what extent can we become someone else, someone who might do damage to what we are seeking to become?

Of course, this doesn't answer the question of whether Whelan should have outed Blevins or not. But it seems that, even if he shouldn't have, his concern was legitimate. All of Blevins' reasons for pseudonymity- protecting family, employment, etc.- were on the line with Whelan as well, and Blevin did not hesitate in leveling criticisms at the risk of these things when he felt it was justifiable to do so against Whelan. In fact it's worth noting that all of these reasons for pseudonymity are extrinsic and based on one's perceived standing. There has been precious little mention of how the abandoning of one's name when speaking might affect oneself.

I agree with the conclusion of another good piece on the affair, that "Whelan committed a minor infraction of manners at worst." It's especially ironic, I think, that Blevins has said in response to his outing that "blogging is not for the thin-skinned," considering he's saying as much in a post where he bemoans his own outing. In Blevins' defense, he seems to have moved on (though only after an apology, which the thick-skinned presumably wouldn't need).

Finally, two quick comment on my approach here at clavi non defixi-

1. This sort of episode is part of why my blog is mostly concerned with the nuts-and-bolts of theology and scholarly work. My sense is that commentary-style blogging can easily get into arguments that we regret down the line and half-baked assertions now out there for all to see. Half-baked assertions are also what makes blogs so helpful... they lead us to sharpen these ideas. But in the case of any very extensive commentary, I feel that it's better to publish in a more established manner; to edit, to review, to get in print. That's just my approach- I'm not saying other approaches are wrong, but that's part of why I avoid such commentary here. Also because I'm simply more interested in providing tools for theologians and others involved in academia.

2. I don't have any sort of posting policy here at clavi non defixi. I don't like the idea of comment moderation very much, because of how it can frustrate discussion. I do of course reserve the right to delete comments that I think are inappropriate, but I don't know if that's really ever had to happen here. I'm also fine with pseudonyms or anonymous posts if that's what people prefer. My above statements on the Whelan-Blevins affair shouldn't be taken as a discouragement of those who disagree or do anonymous/pseudonymous posting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This explains quite a bit...

My sister-in-law is a fan of Pearls Before Swine and often shares the latest from the comic strip on Google Reader... I thought the one from today would be well-received here, from all of you that are involved in the publishing game.

A few items...

  • Also from Princeton UP, the director of the press has an article out about the future of scholarly publishing. I haven't read it yet, but it's surely worth taking a look.
  • Blackwell has released a 2 volume Companion to the Theologians. Some interesting editorial decisions with regard to who is featured and who is not. The Companion has some good contributors, too. Ugly covers, though. Perhaps when it comes by my desk to catalog down the road, I'll be able to comment further.
  • The Annali della Classe di Lettere e Filosofia has issued a call for papers on the topic "Inquisitions", in honor of the publication of The Historical Dictionary of the Inquisition. My apologies for not mentioning this before... by now it's a little last-minute. But this looks like a wonderful opportunity, probably if you already have a suitable paper to submit. Please note, the due date for submissions is July 31st!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bullshit by any other name...

Not exactly a theological or research-oriented post, but I thought this was worth a mention.

My wife is a fan of Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit, and I was pleased to find Princeton UP blogging on its international reception. There are some great cover photos and title translations provided as the little book goes global.

On the right is the Russian edition... I thought I'd put it up since Russian is my wife's second language, and this version has one of the best cover designs (the Japanese cover may be just as sensational, but I think it's a bit creepy-looking).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

July issue of IJST is out...

See here. Also worth noting is Mark Weedman's article, which discusses the Spirit in the Church as well. Weedman won the 2007 Colin Gunton essay prize, for which I originally wrote my article. Weedman sets Barth in conversation with Volf as two poles through which to understand the pneumatological and Christological bases of Church unity, and then proposes his own way forward in an attempt to overcome the difficulties of Barth and Volf, drawing largely from Origen and Athanasius in proposing a universal Christ and particular Spirit as the adequate trinitarian underpinning of an appropriate account of Church unity.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New article...

I received the final version of my next article yesterday, and wanted to mention it here. It will be coming out in the next issue of the International Journal of Systematic Theology. I have a draft version up here that only differs from the final version in formatting and a few insignificant content details... apparently posting this is allowable with the publishing bigwigs.

Below is the citation and abstract. I think I'll be posting a bit more extensively on a few points that came up in the article when the ISJT issue comes out at the end of the month. Specifically I'd like to address the history of the sacrament of confirmation (my posts on Aidan Kavanagh allude to some of the problems that have been nagging me about this), and a question that came up during the review process concerning the relationship between official doctrinal teachings and the sensus fidelium.

Evan F. Kuehn, "'Fullness of the Spirit' and 'Fullness of Catholicity' in Ecclesial Communion", IJST 11.3 (2009), pp. 271-292.
In this article I will consider two terms central to post-conciliar
ecclesiology, both of which express different aspects of the ‘fullness’ of the
church. The ‘fullness of the Spirit’ is a biblical concept describing the pouring
out of the Spirit at Pentecost and in the historical sacrament of confirmation,
while the ‘fullness of catholicity’ is a more recent term employed in conciliar
and post-conciliar discourse to clarify the status of churches and ecclesial
communities within the church of Christ. After analyzing the origin and
development of each form of fullness, constructive interaction between the
two will allow for a critique of post-conciliar ecclesiological and ecumenical

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lovejoy on "God"

I think I may be adding some Arthur O. Lovejoy to my reading list this summer... he was a fascinating thinker, and I haven't yet read any of his work. Founder of the "history of ideas" school of thought and the journal, Lovejoy is provocative in defending what might be called a "positivism of ideas", and has been since critiqued quite strongly by Quentin Skinner and historical contextualist thinkers (see especially Skinner's essay "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas"). Skinner came up a good bit in the seminar I attended at the Committee for Social Thought this past semester, and I'm interested in pursuing some of these theoretical questions a bit more (Tim F, if you're reading you may be able to suggest some good reads... I'm still meaning to get to Fasolt since your discussion of him a while back). Apart from a real scholarly interest, however, Lovejoy just seems like a very interesting character from a bygone era of intellectual style.

In any case, I found a great anecdote on Lovejoy that I thought I'd share from Dale Keiger's article, "Tussling with the Idea Man":

Lovejoy once subjected himself to interrogation by the Maryland Senate, when he'd been nominated for the state's educational board of regents. A legislator asked Lovejoy if he believed in God. George Boas recalled, "I am reliably informed that in reply Lovejoy developed at length 33 definitions of the word God, consuming 15 1/2 cigarettes meanwhile, refusing to be interrupted or ruffled, and ended by asking the committee member which of these meanings he had in mind when putting the question." As the story goes, no one felt inclined to ask him another question, and Lovejoy was confirmed. Unanimously.