Workshop 1A esthetics and education

Dr. Rinke van Hell – Film as Laboratory for a Theology of the Future: The Value of Film and Television as Sources for Religious Identity Construction.

In a plural society that is changing fast, religious identity is not a given but it becomes a construction that needs to be individually developed, based on a plethora of different sources (bricolage). Based on empirical research, this paper will discuss the important role that narrative films and television shows can play in this process.

The growing diversity and plurality in Western Europe presents challenges for religious education because it is difficult to find a common ground among all students. Furthermore, traditional sources as the Bible and Christian tradition have become unknown or suspect, with a growing uncertainty as a result. Recent research has confirmed that religious identity construction can be problematic in Christian institutes of higher education (Erwich, 2012) and that many religious education teachers in the Netherlands struggle with the challenges of plurality, individuality and secularization (Praamsma 2014). In such plural and secularized societies it becomes crucial to educate future theologians — religious education teachers, church leaders, and academic theologians — with a thorough hermeneutical competence (Erwich and Praamsma, 2016; Ganzevoort 2014; Erwich, 2012). Erwich and Praamsma state that theologians, among which also teachers of religious education, should be seen as “commuters” between faith and culture (Erwich and Praamsma, 2016).

This paper will explore how film is suited to ‘train’ this hermeneutical competence that is needed to travel back and forth and to navigate the terrain on the border of culture and faith. Narrative films have found to be a powerful instrument in religious identity construction before (i.e. Hoover 2006). They form fictional laboratories (Ricoeur, 1992; Streib, 1998) where viewers can explore the challenges they face in real life in a safe environment (Lyon and Marsh, 2007). Film functions through a process of involvement so that the viewer becomes immersed in the fictional universe and can explore different roles and situations (Barker, 2000; Lyon and Marsh, 2007). When such involvement occurs new possibilities are disclosed, which need to be answered to in real life.In other words, these fictional experiences help to deal with situations in real life and to grow in one’s religious identity.

The paper will use both the outcomes of earlier empirical research and examples of films and popular television shows such as Blue like jazz (Steve Taylor, 2012), The Leftovers (2014) and Game of Thrones (2011) to show how these forms of popular culture function as sources for religious identity formation but also how they can be used to train theologians in their hermeneutical competence. By exploring these examples the paper will show how films and television shows help theologians to become interpretive guides (Gerkin, 1984; Osmer, 2008; Erwich 2012) who are able to commute between faith and culture and who speak both the language of religious tradition and the language of culture fluently —a crucial ability for the future of our society.

bibliographic sources

Erwich, René, ed. 2014. Theologie als beroep: verhalen van hoop. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok.

Erwich, René and Jan-Marten Praamsma, eds. 2016. Grensgangers: Pendelen tussen geloof en cultuur. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok (forthcoming).

Ganzevoort, R. Ruard. 2014. ‘Hoe Leiden We Anno 2014 Goede Theologen Op?’ Handelingen. Tijdschrift Voor Praktische Theologie. 41 (3): 20–30.

Praamsma, Jan-Marten, ed. 2014. Klassikaal geloven. Verhalen uit de wondere wereld van het godsdienstonderwijs. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Kok.

Streib, Heinz. 1998. ‘The Religious Educator as Story-Teller. Suggestions from Paul Ricoeur’s Work.’ Religious Education 93: 314–31.

Prof. Dr. René van Woudenberg – What is it ‘to Interpret’ a Sentence or a Text?

In many fields of scholarly activity people talk about ‘interpretation’: philosophy, theology, literary studies, jurisprudence. It is surprising, however, how little has been said about what it is to interpret a sentence or a text (or what counts a s ‘an interpretation of a text’) that is not truly baffling. It is said, for example, that interpretation should not and cannot aim at identifying the author’s intention. And Umberto Eco has said that to interpret a text is like a picnic to which the author brings the words and the reader the meanings. Also it is said that whenever we read something, we inevitably ‘interpret’ what we read—even such a sentence as “The earth has one moon”.

The aim of this paper is to specify as clearly as possible what it is to interpret a sentence or a text. Assuming that ‘an interpretation’ is at least a statement, the specific question I will be addressing can be put as follows: How must a statement be related to a sentence or a text, in order for the statement to be ‘an interpretation’ of that sentence or text?

bibliographic sources

William P. Alson, Illocutionary Acts and Sentence Meaning

Umberto Eco, Interpretation and Overinterpretation

Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation

K.J. Popma, Heersende te Jeruzalem

Arjan de Visser – Bavinck, Willmann and Von Humboldt on the Purpose of Education

Education is preparing children for our future society. In current debates about education many contributions claim that the economic goals are to dominant as if our future society is just a place for competing individuals. As a reaction on this biased vision the concept of Bildung is introduced as a form of education which can overcome this instrumental vision. In my contribution to this conference I want to explore the possibilities of using this concept of Bildung in schools with a religious denomination. I therefore compare three main theorist of three separate educational traditions; Von Humboldt, Bavinck and Willmann. Wilhelm Von Humboldt is a key figure in the Bildung-tradition as it developed around 1800 in Germany. Herman Bavinck is theologian in the Netherlands who developed educational theories for schools in the Calvinist tradition around 1900. Otto Willmann is a German educational theorist who is important for catholic education (in several countries included Belgium and the Nethelands) around 1900. First I introduce the method of Bildung (in contrast with other methods of education) and then I will focus on the purpose of education. To which extent are the aims of these three theorist the same or differ and what are social, philosophical or theological sources for these differences.  The main topics I want to explore are individuality and selbstzweck (is perfection of the pupil the ultimate goal of education). In the end I will reach conclusions about possibilities and limits of the concept of Bildung in our education.

Key sources
  1. Bavinck, H. 1904 “Pedagogische beginselen”, uitgeverij Kok, Kampen
  2. Bavinck, H. 1917, ” De Opvoeding der Rijpere Jeugd”, uitgeverij Kok te Kampen
  3. Humboldt von W. , 1965 „Bildung und Sprache“ in „Schöninghs Sammlung Pädagogischer Schriften Quellen zur Geschichte der Pädagogik“ besorgt durch Clemenz Menze, Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn.
  4. Kant,2006, ”Kritiek van de Praktische Rede”,Boom, Amsterdam
  5. Willmann O, 1912/1931 “Didaktiek of Theorie der geestesvorming in haar verband met sociologie en de geschiedenis der vorming” (translation of De Hovre), Brussel