Watch: Mini-Conference Unsettling Otherness

26 February, 15:00-17:00 CET (Online)

Unsettling Otherness
Theopoetics and the future of interreligious encounter

Catherine Keller, Paul Hedges, and Laura Schmidt Roberts in conversation
with Marius van Hoogstraten, Jean Ehret and Chris Doude van Troostwijk

The Chair of Inventive Theology at the Mennonite Seminary/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Luxembourg School of Religion & Society are proud to invite you to the online mini-conference at the occasion of the book launch of Marius van Hoogstraten’s Theopoetics and Religious Difference (Mohr Siebeck, 2020).


Much of postmodern thought revolves around deconstruction and critique. Hardly, it would seem, the necessary tools for reinventing a contemporary and affirmative faith, nor indeed for building the social connections across differences that we so dearly need in this time.

Yet a contemporary strand of theology under the name of theopoetics finds in deconstructive suspicion and critical unknowing especially life-giving resources for thinking faith in the 21st century.

Might these also prove life-giving for building interreligious relations? Can the role of suspicion and critique in theopoetics help Christianity subvert its existing ideas and understandings of the “others,” opening the way for interreligious relations that depend on neither totalizing affirmations of sameness, nor on rigid and unbridgeable difference? Might the traditional Mennonite emphases on community and peace have a special perspective on this? And if more is inevitably also required – a shared story, a shared sense of planetary belonging, a shared vision of togetherness – can theopoetics integrate this affirmation with an attitude that ensures such a shared vision remains open?

In his book Theopoetics and Religious Difference, Marius van Hoogstraten argues that precisely this makes theopoetics so fitting for addressing interreligious encounter: on the one hand, its capacity to embrace unruliness and critical unknowing, and on the other, an affirmation of hope for an unforeseen future that is still becoming.


For a conversation on these and other questions, we are proud to welcome in this online conference: Catherine Keller (Drew University), Paul Hedges (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), and Laura Schmidt Roberts (Fresno Pacific University).With a ‘critical’ word of welcome by Chris Doude van Troostwijk (chair Inventive Theology at the Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary/Luxemburg School of Religion & Society) and Jean Ehret (Luxembourg School of Religion & Society) and a brief introduction by Marius van Hoogstraten (Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary).

The event will take place on Zoom (max 300 participants).

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