Sunday, November 12, 2006

Theology is the drawing card for 10,000 academics who will gather this week at the Washington Convention Center. A double conference of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) will bring 2,800 speakers for 600 sessions beginning Friday morning and ending Nov. 21.

Workshops range from the academic to the arcane, such as one Saturday morning session, presided over by Florida State University professor John Corrigan, on “The Washington D.C. Mall: Living Civil Religion or Museum Artifact?” Other workshops explore subjects such as “Non-Traditional Histories of Black Islam,” “Catholicism and Sex,” pagan studies, Coptic monasticism and sexual desire in the theologies of Saints Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa.

Fourteen sessions at the convention center are open to the public, including:

• “Young African American Men: Policy, Culture, and Faith,” in Room 145A at 1 p.m. Friday.

• “The Bible and Human Rights,” in 146B at 9 a.m. Sunday.

• “The Role of Scripture in the 2006 Elections,” in 202A at 1 p.m. Sunday.

• “Teaching the Bible in the Public Schools,” in Ballroom C at 1 p.m. Sunday.

• “The Enduring Appeal of C.S. Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity,’ ” in Ballroom B at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Other sessions open to the public can be located at the academy’s Web site (

The AAR neither endorses nor rejects any religious belief or practice, and the SBL says it supports “critical investigation of the Bible.”

The Black Religious Scholars Group will meet 7 p.m. Friday at Covenant Baptist Church in Southwest to discuss the black church’s “radical tradition.” The Rev. Gayraud Wilmore, former church history professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, will speak.

Several hundred members of the Evangelical Theological Society will meet Wednesday through Friday at the Hilton Washington to listen to their rising stars deal with topics more in line with their theology. A list of topics, ranging from religious studies, history, philosophy and psychology to law and separation of church and state, is posted at

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