International Conference of the Center for the Academic Study of Christian Spirituality (CASCS) and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS) from 26-29 June 2017
The scientific conference Pray Without Ceasing: Perspectives for Spirituality Studies is both a Swiss/European and global event. Continuous prayer is the central theme in the conference’s discussion between theologians, scientists of religion, sociologists, eco-theologians, psychologists of religions, and counselors involved in spiritual care. The title of the conference is a New Testament text from the Apostle Paul from Thessalonians 5:16-18. While the text itself is central to the Christian faith; it is an open text that animates both practical and philosophical discourse. Each of the disciplines working in the area of spirituality can find access and participate in a discussion of the notion of continual prayer and its impossibility or possibilities. From the Early Christian Church to the Desert Fathers and even in contemporary research on contemplation and health benefits, praying without ceasing is a topic that brings all areas of spirituality studies and practitioners in the church and public spheres together – theoretically and as the basis for empirical research and thought.
Precisely the discussion of prayer and contemplation, metaphysics and transcendence, have particular socio- and psycho- cultural relevance, which lies in the very practical aspects of the spiritual lives of people with and without religious convictions or affiliations. Thus, what may seem to be a topic that is only relevant to a certain religious group proves to be not only ecumenical but simply human. At an even deeper substratum, the topic of praying without ceasing relates and connects the ideas of interfaith, inter-religious awareness, and the social and cultural realities of the twenty-first century. The ecological issues that we face in our global community are other pertinent aspects, which are essential to all humans, that several scholars will be addressing in light of spirituality and prayer.
The conference begins with local, Swiss and German, experts presenting their research findings in the area of prayer and spirituality studies. On day two, the local ground work that also celebrates 500 years of Swiss Reformation will have been established. It sets the stage and shapes the foundation for comparing and contrasting the empirical, practical research presented by international scholars from the United States and Australia on their prayer and spirituality studies in context. The day ends with the presentation of two studies on ecological spirituality and the practice of praying without ceasing and an experiential workshop. The third and fourth days of the conference are a medley of lectures by top ranking global specialists on the subject of spirituality and prayer. Sixty twenty-minute parallel paper presentations in panels will provide ideas to fire discussions in the formal group setting as well as in the relaxed atmosphere of meals. An outing on the Lake of Zug is another opportunity for discussion on day three. The final day includes keynote speeches by the world’s foremost spirituality scholars: Prof. Dr. Kees Waaijman (Nijmegen) and Prof. Dr. Sandra Schneiders (Berkeley) as well as an international panel discussion.
Pray Without Ceasing: Perspectives for Spirituality Studies promises to open new categories for further study of spiritualit(ies). This conference will connect a large group of global scholars in the field of spirituality. The outcome will be more synergy and focus for spirituality studies in practical theology, theology proper, the science of religions, spiritual care, sociology, and psychology, among other disciplines. The goal is to further global cooperation and the position and importance of the academic study of Christian spirituality, and how to honor relationships and interaction with other religions and the secular world.