Open Calls for Submissions
Topic: “Flesh & Blood”
"Flesh and blood" is a concept of great signficance both literally and figuratively in the human imagination. The Christian tradition is rich with the imagery of human bodies—for centuries people have shown their fidelity to God by performing ritual acts of circumcision or penance; God is claimed by many Christians to intervene in matters of daily health as well as birth and death; God shows God’s self to us most clearly through the incarnate Christ—whose “body and blood” are an integral part of Christian worship and remembrance. Conservative Christians are strong advocates of the strengthening of flesh-and-blood family networks, sometimes to the point of disavowing "nontraditional" notions of family entirely. Why? And to what ends?
In the scientific world, we are learning new things every day about what flesh and blood are—the complexity of our bodies is profound and incredible. The vast systems of cause and effect within us are also home to whole ecosystems of microbial life, which can even exert influence on what we eat and how we behave (cell for cell, the science tells us, we are mostly bacteria). This issue of God & Nature magazine seeks to explore the topic of bodies scientifically and theologically to understand more clearly why bodies are so crucial to the story of Christianity, and what recommendations for the treatment of human bodies (our own and others’) might arise from uniting the above lines of questioning.
Topic: “Cosmology & Theology”
Astronomy, cosmology, and theoretical physics are in some ways more sublime and also more speculative than other fields of science. Physicists often describe biology as a “messy” discipline because their own academic and experimental work seems by comparison more clean (fewer uncontrolled variables), more systematic (less noise from said variables) and more logical (theory and observation are closely connected). Yet much ongoing work in cosmology and physics cannot yet be tested experimentally—which has caused some scholars to argue that they are more akin to philosophy than science. How do notions of mathematical beauty, logic, and sublimity affect whether we label academic projects as scientific, philosophical, or even theological? How has humanity’s reigning understanding of the cosmos affected its reigning understanding of God in any given age? What should Christians take or leave from notions of quantum mechanics, the multiverse, string theory, time, gravity, etc. when contemplating the questions of faith?
Topic: “Race & Inheritance”
Genetic heritability. Cultural heritage. White Jesus. Black Jesus. Along with our DNA, each of us has inherited certain religious understandings and traditions, certain economic resources and/or obstacles, certain family traits and foibles that arise separately from our genetics. The social and material conditions of our birth affect how human beings mate with each other, where we live or migrate, and how we treat each other both personally and as a part of larger social systems. Given the important nature of the topic, how can Christians come to talk more productively about issues of race and inheritance? What do Christians inheriting privilege owe chronically oppressed and underserved populations—especially those their ancestors have directly abused or mistreated? What might a radical redistribution of wealth do for cultural relationships and the idea of Christian charity?
In an age of science and technology, how do biological notions of evolution and population ecology serve us—or mislead us—about the responsibilities we have towards preserving difference and diversity, especially in the face of unavoidable niche deterioration? What basic “facts of existence" have the sciences illuminated over the past few hundred years that were wholly absent from our pre-modern religious fathers’ and mothers' notions of Christian identity? What popular or traditional ideas in the church should change on account of these realizations, if any? What does it mean to be a member of the global body of Christ?