I’ll be presenting a paper titled, “Northern Ireland, America and the Emerging Church Movement: Exploring the Significance of Peter Rollins and the Ikon Collective” on Sunday 12 May at the Clinton Centre, University College Dublin, in a panel from 12.00-1.30 pm.
The paper is based on my forthcoming book, co-authored with Gerardo Marti of Davidson College, NC, The Deconstructed Church: The Religious Identity and Negotiated Practices of Emerging Christianity (Oxford University Press).
It is part of the wider programme of the second annual conference of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, which is meeting 10-12 May at UCD. All talks on Sunday are free and open to the public. The fee for the entire conference is €75 waged, €35 unwaged. Please register here and pay on arrival.
A paper focusing on Ikon and what we see as its unique influence on the wider, transnational Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is appropriate for the conference, the theme of which is ‘Ireland, America and Transnationalism: Studying Religions in a Globalised World.’
This is the abstract of the paper:
The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is a growing phenomenon in Western Christianity that takes on diverse forms, including pub churches and arts collectives. In this paper, we explore the unique influence of Belfast-born philosopher Peter Rollins and Belfast’s Ikon collective (of which Rollins is a founder) on the transnational ECM.* Since 2006 Rollins has published five books of popular ‘pyro-theology’ – three since his move to the US. We analyse how Rollins’ use of Continental Philosophy underpins a profound reworking of theological questions including what is the church (ecclesiology), what it means to be human (anthropology), and how life is to be lived (ethics). We argue that Ikon’s ‘transformance art’ provides a liturgical ‘safe space’ for explorations of these questions. We conclude that Northern Ireland’s edgy, violent context – and religion’s perceived role in its conflict – has in important ways made Rollins and Ikon amongst the boldest and most provocative expressions of the ECM. This has pushed them further than most of their North American counterparts in their advocacy of a ‘religionless Christianity.’ Rollins and Ikon thus provide key insights on the possible future directions and limitations of the ECM – subjects explored in our forthcoming book, The Deconstructed Church.
(* we do acknowledge that Ikon does not identify specifically with the ECM but conceive of the movement broadly enough to include them in our analysis – and note the empirical evidence of their influence on other groups, collectives and congregations in the movement)
(Image of Ikon at Culture Night, Belfast, 2011, sourced at http://ikonbelfast.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/culture-night-belfast-2011-the-evangelism-project/)