Projects in Progress

There are a few updates on ongoing work that I thought I should post as 2015 draws to a close.

1. Zwickau Press work has been on hold since Gerald Ens’ book Boundaries Thick and Permeable came out early in 2015 (available for purchase on Amazon). In January I will begin editing Isaiah Ritzmann’s book More Than Atonement: Anabaptist Mennonite Discipleship Ecclesiology and then Chris Brnjas’ book On Idolatry. After these are ready to go we’re hoping to have a launch event at Conrad Grebel University College sometime later in 2016, with all three books for sale, and some time to talk about the content of each book.

2. After much time and energy, application season has come to a close, leaving me with no significant due dates other than a few reviews (Steiner, Thacker, Lacoste, MBK, Romano; and the Reimer review should be out in the next issue of the Conrad Grebel Review). Preparing applications also allowed me to revisit my MTS thesis and my paper on Marion and hermeneutics, both of which I was able to refine as writing samples for different schools. Looking back on both pieces – each written almost eight months ago – I feel like I can now see their limitations more clearly, but also their strengths (more on the future of these pieces of writing as things unfold).

3. I’ve resumed working on Being & Chiasmus and editing each chapter in such a way that brings out the continuity of the book. Chapter 1 is on identity, Chapter 2 is on division, Chapter 3 is on ontological violence, Chapter 4 is on the Two, Chapter 5 is on dialectics, and Chapter 6 is on chiasmus, and I’m trying to ensure that each chapter builds on the previous one in such a way that holds up the ontology of identity I’m trying to develop. As I wait for Punctum to get back to me about review details, I plan to fill out the manuscript a little more by adding sections on Grace Jantzen and Christian Jambet.

4. In January I still want to revisit Notes on the Compendium and add sections on Blanchot, Foucault, Groys, and Lyotard. After that writing project I’m hoping that I can do some work on Mennonite Metaphysics in the summer, and maybe take an online course at AMBS.

5. Soon I’ll submit my abstract for the next TMTC Mennonite grad student conference, “Power in Perspective(s).” I’m torn between my earlier idea called “The Critique of Power: Epistemological Foundations in Modernity,” and an extension of my talk at McMaster that would compare Lowith and Taubes on the connection between Enlightenment progress and Reformation-era chiliasm.

6. And finally, I’m wrapping up the Advent season at Rainham Mennonite Church and contemplating what my final sermon of the year will look like. I’ve been reading Richard Kearney’s work, and I think his concept of Anatheism might make its way into the Christmas sermon next week.

Thanks everyone keeping an eye on this space!


New Projects on the Horizon

Cover Art

There are a few new projects in the works that I should note for those who pass by.

1. Gerald Ens’ book Boundaries Thick and Permeable is available for purchase on Amazon. It’s the first print title offered by Zwickau Press, with more to follow. The next two titles that we aim to release later this year include Isaiah Ritzmann’s book More Than Atonement: Anabaptist Mennonite Discipleship Ecclesiology and Chris Brnjas’ book On Idolatry. Both of these books are in editing right now, and should see a print launch before the end of the calendar year.

2. Having finished up my masters thesis, with a bit more preparation to do for my defense in mid-August, I have returned to work on Being & Chiasmus which is coming along quite nicely (there’ll be sections on Katerina Kolozova, Alexander Garcia Duttmann, Paul Ricoeur, Alenka Zupancic, and Clement Rossett). I just have a handful of expository sections to fill out and then I’ll send it to Punctum for review (remaining sections include Merleau-Ponty on chiasmus and Grace Jantzen on violence). Beyond that, I still have some material that I’d like to transform into the next iteration of Notes on the Compendium (with sections on Blanchot, Foucault, Groys, and Lyotard), but that will have to wait for September. After that, I want to take the year to read and write a new draft of Mennonite Metaphysics, but that’s a ways down the road.

3. A short piece I wrote for the FDTF will soon be published, in revised form, in the new issue of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology. It’s called “Technology in the life of faith: A call for critical engagement”. And beyond that I have two conference papers out with reviewers (or close to it) – one on Mennonites and literature, and the other on phenomenology and hermeneutics.

4. My reviews of Francois Laruelle, Intellectuals and Power, Sam Steiner, In Search of Promised Lands, and A. James Reimer, Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology should each be submitted in the coming few months.

5. In the Fall I’ll present a paper called “The Secular, Secularism, and Secularization: A Conceptual Constellation” at the McMaster University Graduate Conference on Religion and Law on October 17-18. This presentation will expand upon part of the fourth chapter of my masters thesis, with a few more flourishes, and some Karl Lowith and Carl Schmitt.

6. For next year, from June 2-4 the next TMTC Mennonite grad student conference, on “Power in Perspective(s),” is being held at AMBS, and I’m hoping to submit a paper called “The Critique of Power: Epistemological Foundations in Modernity.” I’d like to have some fun with this one and use parts of Boris Groys’ On the New and Francois Hartog’s Regimes of Historicity to show how the critique of power often assumes a subject that can absent itself from all formation (by others, by institutions, by society, etc.). Still thinking about that one…

7. This year I’ll be preaching at Rainham Mennonite Church near Selkirk, and I’m excited to learn more about the 220 year history of the congregation. The June 2011 issue of Ontario Mennonite History (PDF) has a history of Rainham Mennonite in it, but I’d be curious if there are other resources out there (besides the Steiner and Burkholder books). If anyone has any thoughts feel free to send them on.

8. Feel free to email me if you have thoughts about any of the above, or if you know of future manuscripts for Zwickau Press. I’ll continue to post updates on these projects here, and I think that the genre of posts here will continue to be the same: brief updates on my writing projects, rather than reflection pieces. Thanks for reading and checking in!

MTS Thesis

I have finally completed writing my masters thesis, titled “We Have Never Been Secular: The Concept of the Secular and the Dutch Collegiants in the Radical Enlightenment”. For more on the Collegiants see here.


I will probably be defending in early August, and here is the abstract:

The following study examines the history of the seventeenth century Collegiant group in the Dutch Republic, focusing on their blending of Spiritualist and Rationalist influences. By reading Collegiant Rational Religion through the lenses of social history and the history of ideas, the following study makes explicit the ways in which the Collegiants were simultaneously a religious and secular movement. Being both religious and secular, the historical example of the Collegiant group challenges contemporary distinctions between religion and the secular.

Chapter 1 outlines the history of the Collegiants in the context of the seventeenth century Dutch Republic, from their first meetings in Rijnsburg in 1619 up to their period of Rational Religion. Through an examination of Collegiant ideas and practices, the first chapter describes the genesis of the movement after the Synod of Dordrecht, the early millenarian influence, and the Spiritualist period of the Collegiant group.

Chapter 2 then widens the scope of inquiry by situating the Collegiant group in the Early Enlightenment, focusing in particular on the Radical Enlightenment. The second chapter advances two concurrent arguments against a teleological reading of the Collegiant transition from Spiritualism to Rationalism, each concerned with preserving the dignity of the Collegiant blending of Rational Religion, rather than reducing it to a transitory phase on the way to Rationalism. The two concurrent arguments against the teleological reading of the Enlightenment include (1) the critique of the concept of Enlightenment as a normative ideal as provided by critical theory, and (2) the recovery of the role of religion during the Enlightenment period as provided by recent revisions to historical scholarship.

Chapter 3 narrows the scope of inquiry to the Collegiant transition to Rationalism, focusing on the ways in which the Collegiants blended together Spiritualism and Rationalism to form a Rational Religion that emphasized the compatibility of faith and reason.

Through an examination of Collegiants who belonged to the Spinoza Circle and Collegiants who were also Mennonites, Chapter 3 concludes by describing the schismatic effect of the Bredenburg dispute and the collapse of the blended approach in the late Collegiant Rationalist period.

Chapter 4 concludes the study by rethinking the contemporary divide between the categories of religion and the secular by drawing parallels between Collegiant Rational Religion and the contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion, the latter of which is represented by theologian and philosopher Daniel Colucciello Barber.