Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When non-priests pray: A conversation between Sarah Coakley and Bono

Today I delivered my paper – When non-priests pray: A conversation between Sarah Coakley and Bono Vox regarding incorporative pneumatology and priestly prayer.

In sum I was holding a conversation between the evolving performance of a U2 song, Mysterious Ways, and exploring themes around what it means to talk of the Spirit present at a pop culture event like a rock concert. While Bono is often called prophet, I began to trace some lines by which he might be called priest, not in a captured by church way, but in the sense of a Melchizideck in Genesis or a Balaam in Numbers or the Magi in Matthew, all outside the church yet offering blessing.

The paper stimulated some energetic and thoughtful conversation, so that was encouraging. In fact, the whole 2 day conference has been a delight, with Sarah Coakley a delightfully engaged listener as we talked about her work. The only surprise, for me, was the absence of many Anglicans – Sarah is both an Anglican priest and Systematic Theologian at Cambridge University, UK, and I really thought her presence would have seen them out in droves.

In light of my current interest in Wordle, here is my paper “wordled”.

Update 1: A highlight for me of the conference was the excellent papers by two younger women theologian; both so poised, so respectfully engaged, so clear in their articulation. It was a delight to behold and a real sign, for me, of hope for the church.

Update 2: An excerpt from my paper is posted here – in which I explore how a theology of Spirit allows the Christian to celebrate pop-culture artifacts.

Posted by steve at 04:30 PM


  1. Hi mate. Well done. I’m pleased it went well. Was thinking of you. Funnily enough I’m not surprised there weren’t more Anglican’s there, but I am a little disappointed. The kinds of thinking and interaction suggested by the papers and the kind of people there would have been really useful.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — July 13, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  2. Clarifying why I’m not particularly surprised that so few Anglican’s were there – remember which diocese you were in and their attitude to and acceptance of women priests… let alone that its reformed evangelical and that regrettably for them Sarah Coakley probably isn’t regarded as an “insider” in those circles. Sad I know, but that’s the reality. Of course, I could be completely wrong in my assumptions.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — July 13, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  3. Hi Paul, I realise the diocese, but am also aware that Australia does have airplanes :); and for a Cambridge theologian?


    Comment by steve — July 13, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

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