At this week’s Theological Research Seminar, Dr. Michael Knowles will be presenting, “Online Proclamation? McLuhan, Baudrillard, and Verisimilitude in Preaching.” Read the abstract and bio below.
All are welcome to attend in Hurlburt Hall (room 136) at McMaster Divinity College at 1:00pm or via livestream at the link below:
Join the Livestream
Password: z00m (Note that the password has zeros rather than “o”)
Electronic communication of the Christian message—online preaching—raises distinct theological challenges. Notwithstanding the convenience and geographical reach of “virtual church,” electronic media have the potential to separate preacher from congregants, congregants from one another, and—potentially of greatest concern—the church from God. Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan argues provocatively that virtual representation is at the cost of authentic human identity (in which case it is inimical to community), while French sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard warns of substituting representation for reality, especially in matters of theology and the identity of God. The paradigm of Jesus’ Incarnation, by contrast, mandates un-mediated divine-human and human-to-human communication, requiring engagement between persons themselves rather than their avatars or provisional simulacra. With respect to electronic communication itself, acknowledging divine initiative in the formation of identity and of understanding countermands the more dehumanizing and anti-theological influences that McLuhan and Baudrillard both identify, encouraging direct engagement with God in the person of the Holy Spirit.
A graduate of Wycliffe College and the Toronto School of Theology, Dr. Knowles holds the Hurlburt Chair of Preaching at McMaster Divinity College. His research and teaching interests include homiletics, spirituality, and biblical interpretation, focussing in particular on the theological foundations of Christian ministry. Dr. Knowles is ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada.
The MDC Theological Research Seminar (TRS) is a bimonthly gathering for all MDC students and faculty. TRS meets over the lunch hour on Wednesdays, and includes about thirty minutes for the paper presentation and twenty minutes for discussion.
All advanced degree students are invited to present a paper and share your research with your colleagues. TRS is an excellent opportunity to “test drive” a paper you will be presenting at an upcoming conference and receive helpful feedback on your current research projects. Thinking about submitting an article to a journal and want some interaction first? TRS will provide it. Just published an article or an essay and want to share it us? TRS is an excellent opportunity to broadcast it.
This year the organizing committee consists of Dr. Francis Pang, Dr. Wendy Porter, and Dr. Steve Studebaker. To submit a paper, contact a member of the organizing committee.