Don’t worry if you missed it, but the NuDunkers had their first hangout. Five theologian practitioners connected on a live Google Hangout to talk about this emerging collective. You can find a great summary on Dana’s blog here- http://www.well-yah.blogspot.com/2012/11/hanging-with-nudunkers.html
I will be honest, I had a whole other post in response crafted last night. I was planning to come back, write a conclusion and do some editing before posting. All that intention, however, vanished after a train wreck of a morning in other theological discussions around the web- both in the comments and in my own horrible culpability in furthering of the vitriolic and acerbic “conversation.”
These events, and the presenting questions of gender in theology and academia, forced me to ponder just why NuDunkers is so energizing for me.
Though our initial conversation hovered high above the ground, a necessity for the purpose of introduction, we are working at the intersection of thinking and doing, theology and ministry. Having a foot in both the academic and church worlds, I often find myself torn in two directions. Or, more concretely, criticized for being too heady in the church and too practical in school. Such a binary, or false distinction, is draining and combative in a way I am simply too tired to engage any further.
Second, as Matt noted, the relationally of the whole project is central. Seeing faces, and talking together across the distance is the central way of doing good theology and good ministry. In todays media landscape it is too easy to write, and accuse, and berate others without ever having to see into their eyes. Even more to the point, it is all too common to talk across others without ever having to see them as real persons- replete with real desires, real fears and passions, and doing good work. For me NuDunkers begins to break that down through this process of slowing down the conversation and bringing the ideas and the people together. I have literally been cussed out by both friend and foe in the last six weeks, and I for one am done with ideological reflection that justifies such behavior.
And last, this is an open forum. Our writing is out there, and the conversations we are having are live as well as recorded. There is no hiding behind ivory towers or back rooms. Some have raised concerns that NuDunkers was a closed group of people deciding the trajectory and questions. That is why the video conference is so important to the project. As you can hear us say over and over again, anyone can raise the questions, lead the conversation, and join in (although the limits of Google Hangouts right now is a functional, and not intentional, limitation). In the early conversations between Dana, Brian, Andy and I, we constantly repeated that we wanted more people in on this. We were benefiting from the dialog and want to learn and hear from others as well. With new media options that is possible. So why not do it! All the four of us have done is outline a process for how that can happen.
All of this is to say that I find more excitement in this collective project than I do in many other theology and ministry forums.
You can find other reflections on the first NuDunker hangout
Hermes Table (Andy Hamilton)- http://hermestable.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/where-the-wind-blows/#comments