Peter Rollins, a popular scholar who bridges the disciplines of philosophy and theology, joined us on campus last week to teach a course and speak at The Forum’s most recent town hall event. Both events were open to the public.
Rollins is no stranger to The Seattle School community, and each visit offers provocative ideas and reflections that inspire continued conversation at the intersection of text, soul, and culture.
Nearly 100 people attended last Wednesday’s town hall event, where Rollins spoke on “Figures of Transgression: The Trickster, the Cynic, and the Fool,” cautioning listeners against both ideology and apathy. He instead invited them to wrestle with ideas and assumptions through practices of de-centering and continuous conversations with those whom they consider “other.”
Rollins’ three-day summer course at The Seattle School followed last Wednesday’s town hall event with 25 students and 11 members of the community in attendance. During the course, “Unconscious Gods: Radical Theology, Psychoanalysis, and the Critique of Religion,” participants engaged developments in contemporary critical theory that have shaped Radical Theology’s conceptions of theology and church practice.
“Unconscious Gods” specifically focused on the theories that inform, influence, and shape Rollins’ developing theological project pyrotheology, where he draws from post-Hegelian theory, Radical Theology, and Lacanian psychoanalysis to further develop what Bonhoeffer called a “religionless Christianity.” Students also received a sneak peek into the material for his next book.
Rollins’ hope in both the town hall event and the class was to challenge Christianity to move toward acknowledging and mourning the loss of God as a deus ex machina—a device that inexplicity solves complex dilemmas and overcomes the gaps in our understanding. Rollins believes this concept of God is an idol that Western religion has embraced in order to avoid a more humble, unfamiliar, and undefined faith that engages the unknown mystery of an imminent God.
Before leaving Seattle, Rollins was able to sit down with Dr. Dwight J. Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, to discuss The Seattle School and the future of theological education. Find out why Rollins chose to teach at The Seattle School in the video below.