SARTS panel gathers in San Francisco to honor Alejandro García-Rivera.
Pioneering theologian Alejandro (Alex) García-Rivera (1951-2010) was a committed scholar to the end. During the last weeks of his life, as Alex met with colleagues and students who came to his bedside, he constantly expressed the hope that the “paradigm shift” he had begun would continue to gain momentum. Shortly after his passing, his current and former students and colleagues began to think of ways to honor him while moving the scholarly conversation about theological aesthetics forward. This had been his last charge to them.
The result was the collaboration “New Frontiers in Theological Aesthetics: Taking Stock and Charting Courses via the Sketches of Alejandro García-Rivera.” The work for the session included the collaborative sharing of papers leading up to a public presentation on November 18, 2011 during the AAR Annual meeting. The standing room only crowd was regaled by accounts both intensely personal and theoretical about Alex’s far reaching impact. Scholars explored Alex’s insistence onthe potential theological aesthetics holds for becoming aunitive discourse for respectful and fruitful engagement among diverse fields and communities.
The session, chaired by Mia Mochizuki, included brief looks at the work of theological aesthetics and the liturgy (Thomas Scirghi, SJ), art and religion methodology (Cecilia González-Andrieu), the impact on the dialogue with science (Oleg Bychkov and Mark Graves), and aesthetics and ethics (William O’Neill, SJ). Additionally, although unable to be present in person, papers were read on behalf of Ronald Nakasone addressing interfaith questions and Frank Burch Brown who offered his wise assessment and vision for the future of the field. The session, designed as a round table,included short responses from doctoral students from the Graduate Theological Union, many clearly still grieving the loss of their revered teacher. Student responses were given by Larry Fraher, Patricia McKee, April Lynch, Jenny Patten, Elaine Belz, Peter Doebler and Trung Pham. Participants were also presented a copy of the Cithara Journal, Volume 51, No.1, a memorial issue also dedicated to García-Rivera. Many of Alex’s close friends and colleagues were in attendance and the gathered community was particularly moved by the presence of Alex’s wife, Kathryn.
The session was sponsored by SARTS with organizing support from the AAR’s Arts, Literature, and Religion Section, the Graduate Theological Union and Loyola Marymount University.
- Article written by Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, PhD.
Further information about Alejandro García-Rivera is available at:
Journal of the American Academy of Religion: http://jaar.oxfordjournals.org/content/79/2/280.extract
Religious Studies News: http://rsnonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&;view=article&id=742&Itemid=836