The Apocalypse Will Blossom: The Launch of ERTN
Nov 13, 2019
Last weekend in the medieval city of Utrecht, a centre of Christian thought since the 8th century, a group of Europeans (plus one invited American guest, Maria French, Hatchery Director) to launch a new venture. Attendees, all of whom are thinkers, theologians and practitioners, from The Netherlands, U.K., Norway, Sweden, Romania and Ireland came together to participate in the European Radical Theology Network (ERTN).
ERTN is committed to re-framing radical theology in the European context, to supporting existing work and to fostering new projects across Europe. The state of religion across Europe is vastly different from North America, church attendance and interest in traditional religion, though varying slightly from country to country, is virtually non-existent. But there is renewed interest in alternative spirituality, and with questions concerning meaning coupled with a growing hunger for a different way of life that meaningfully addresses the issues challenging our times. Part of ERTN’s goal is to nurture theological responses to the particularities of European questions and to bring together those already trying to address these issues. Radical theology is interested in all of life and presents unique opportunities for tackling the unique challenges of 21st century life and ERTN is committed to taking radical theology out of its often academic environment and engage with real life in new and innovative ways.
One of the great challenges for many people is a sense of isolation, given the low percentage of religious involvement many of the people engaging in this kind of work find themselves largely working in vacuums and ERTN is a way to connect people to exchange ideas, develop strategies and discuss the theological challenges.
The meeting was framed around a talk given by Barry Taylor, called The Apocalypse Will Blossom, which challenged the notion that the apocalyptic is necessarily destructive and instead is an invitation to participate in the creation of a new way of living, of being in the world. To quote Srećko Horvat, “To act now means to create the conditions for our own future, not to follow the already written script from the past: it means to produce a crack in the present, a disruption in the imposition of capitalist temporality, the rhythm of power.”
The main goal of the meeting was to launch the network and begin to connect people with each other and to develop a plan for moving forward. Part of the challenge in any group is how to accommodate diverse opinions and still stay true to the vision so an umbrella statement was crafted by the group that offers plenty of room for particularity while not sacrificing the aims and goals of both radical theology and the ERTN.
“Radical theology is an embrace of the deadlock in reality, an openness to novelty, and an affirmation of the lack at the heart of human existence.” This short statement will provide the framework for ongoing ERTN projects and be the impetus behind the work it seeks to do with regard to the intersections between radical theology, European contexts and the challenge presented by current conditions.
As with all good meetings, this one ended with a catered dinner with a menu inspired by radical theology-it was tasty, creative, experimental, just like radical theology!
You can find out more about ERTN by following their Instagram
(a more expansive website is coming) and stay tuned for more information and stories about ERTN and Hatchery’s support and involvement in this exciting new venture.