When John Cobb and Jim Robinson accepted an invitation to play a decisive role in establishing a new graduate theological center in California,  I was deeply tempted to join them.  We had worked together in planning a new religious studies graduate program at Emory, and were committed to a truly new theology, but the only opening then at Claremont was a professorship of homiletics, and while I was willing to accept it, their dean wisely refused.  Despite my alienation from the Church, I was and am deeply committed to preaching, but we overwhelmingly need a truly new preaching.  As Bob Funk, a former boy evangelist himself, continually remarked, the gospel has been literally repeated so many times that it has lost all of its original or fundamental meaning.  Hence it has become what Nietzsche identified as dysangel, a reversal of the original gospel, and nowhere more so than in America.  I first became aware of the rumbling that was to become the death of God controversy while visiting to give a lecture at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, the professor of homiletics there initiated me into the new world of preaching and the mass media, and sensing what was about to happen to me, he gave me excellent advice about how to respond to the mass media.  The practical wisdom that I then learned, and practiced ever more fully as time went on, was how to respond to questions of a television interviewer; and the trick is to look the camera fully in the eye while answering the question, but to ignore the question itself altogether in responding.  For this makes possible speaking what one intends, and I knew that I intended to preach in that situation.

 Already Kierkegaard had taught me that true preaching is inevitably a profound offense, it is precisely that which most deeply offends which is authentic preaching, so the good news of the gospel can only be heard by us as bad news.   It is a reversal of everything that is immediately our own, of everything that is actuality for us.  Once the death of God controversy fully broke, I was continually on television, as I traveled about the country, I was invariably interviewed for local television, and I always responded with preaching; perhaps I was the first television evangelist, and I preached by declaring that everything we know as God is dead, and that this death is the gospel, is the good news, I would pronounce this with as much passion as possible, and proclaim it as the full and final advent of an absolute joy.  What I intended was to seek out what the listener-viewer most deeply knew as God, and to call that forth in such a way as to make manifest its death, so that the viewer-hearer could experience that death if only momentarily, and could know that experience as life itself.  Even in the innumerable university lectures which I gave, and in the many debates in which I engaged, I preached the death of God, believing then and now that this ultimately redemptive event is the very essence of the Christian gospel.  If nothing else, I succeeded in giving offense, and this traveling evangelist did experience joy, but only insofar as joy is awakened in others.  To what extent that genuinely occurred I cannot know, but I did experience an intense response in others, and a response to what I was proclaiming; for while there was certainly nothing original about this, it may well be the first time that it was enacted as preaching through the mass media.

 I think that I became one of the most hated men in America, murder threats were almost a commonplace, savage assaults upon me were widely published, and the churches were seemingly possessed by a fury against me.  Yet Archbishop Hallinan of Atlanta publicly and forcefully defended me, and did so in large measure because his confessor was a Trappist monk, Bernard Johnson, who was a dear friend of mine, and who is now the Abbot of the Conyers monastery.  The truth is that I was given deep support throughout this period, and while I offended many permanently, and lost every hope of a foundation grant or a major academic appointment, I have never regretted the offense which I gave.  A new community opened to me, a community of a wide variety of people, for this country is passionately religious, and at bottom in rebellion at what it has been given as religion.  Perhaps the South is most paradoxical at this point, never did I experience the violent rejection there which I experienced in the North; as epitomized for me when I appeared on the Merv Griffin show in New York, and when I was given exactly two minutes to speak  before a live audience in an old Broadway theater, the response was a violent one, forcing the director to close the curtains and order the band to play forcefully, and after this event a crowd greeted me at the stage door, demanding my death, and I was only saved from assault by a canny editor who had briefed me for the occasion and then had his taxi backed up to the door.

 Let it also be said that the Atlanta newspapers also supported me, just as did many journalists and commentators throughout the country, innumerable pastors and priests were a source of deep sustenance, and I sensed that I was only saying aloud what many of them knew more deeply, so I became a kind of talisman, of little or no importance in myself, but important to others as their surrogate, or, as many suggested at the time, like the little boy who said aloud what others dared not say, that the emperor has no clothes.  Of course, I deeply offended virtually all older theologians, even including Reinhold Niebuhr, but not Paul Tillich, Tillich was my master in meeting and reversing such assaults, but so, too, were Barth and Bultmann, and while I was far from their level as a theologian, I was meeting something like the offense which they provoked, and mine had occurred as a media event, thus if only for this reason it was far more widely known.  Of course, this has all now been forgotten; media events vanish almost immediately, but it cannot be denied that for whatever reason theology has subsequently undergone a deep transformation.  It is now deeply at the periphery of our culture and society, deeply alien if not simply invisible in our world, and just as at that time many theologians insisted that it was not God but rather theology that had died, this is openly true now; but it is also true theologically that rebirth can only come through death itself, and it remains my hope that theology is even now being reborn through its own death.

 It was also during the sixties that America discovered that it was not a Christian nation, to say nothing of being a Protestant nation.  Not only was this a time when a deep transformation of American anti-Semitism occurred, but the Jewish voice and mind were now first heard in America as integrally and authentically Jewish, and perhaps most forcefully so through my own deep friend and associate, Arthur Cohen.  My friendship with Cohen had begun when we were students at the University of Chicago, and just as I had to teach myself theology he had to teach himself Judaism, while both of us were deeply assisted by others, neither of us could find a home in our institutional religious worlds, nor in our academic worlds, but Arthur was even more fully alienated from the academic world than I was, perhaps because his brilliance was purer than mine, so he was forced to create his own world, and not only in the world of publishing and writing,  but in his own mind and imagination.  Cohen is a pure expression of the solitary theologian, and he is certainly one of our most important theologians; indeed, there are those in the Jewish world who think that he simply created Jewish theology, or if not Jewish theology, then an American or postmodern Jewish theology.  I believe that his novel, In the Days of Simon Stern, is our richest Jewish theological novel, and one of our most profound responses to the Holocaust.  Cohen is a truly paradoxical theologian who could know the death of God as an authentic epiphany of Yahweh, only when the Christian God is dead, and the God of the philosophers as well, can the voice of Yahweh now truly be heard, and it can even be heard in that Holocaust which is the final death of the West, the final ending of our history.  Cohen and I engaged in a long correspondence which he once wanted to publish, but I had lost his letters in a basement flood, yet I shall never lose his deep impact, or his voice and mind as a theologian.

 Even the Catholic world now recognizes that the Holocaust, and the subsequent Christian discovery of the Jew, has deeply transformed Christian theology, but so likewise has theology been transformed by its discovery of our deep underworld, the underworld of the poor and the oppressed, the deeply alienated and deeply forgotten, and while this most explicitly occurs in liberation theology, it has much more deeply occurred theologically in an opening to the depths of darkness and abyss.  So it is that the theological world has been deeply affected by both Marxism and Freudianism, and while I was never a member of the Communist Party, I was deeply engaged with Marxism for many years, and it is a wonder to me that this never was called forth in the days of my assault.  Even Anglicanism once had a Communist wing, just as did many of our churches, so liberation theology did not arise out of a void, and it was quickly and painlessly absorbed by our established theological world, and this occurred even as that world was ever more deeply becoming conservative and reactionary.  Despite all of this, there are genuine Christian Marxists, I was once one myself, and I am not an ex-Marxist in the common sense, I rather think that Marxism in now in a situation not unlike that of Christianity after the end of Christendom, and it may yet undergo its deepest rebirth.  Certainly Marxist theologians existed in the sixties well before the birth of liberation theology, many of them much affected me, and most of all the most creative of Christian Marxist scholars, Norman Gottwald.  And despite the fact that Gottwald is surely our most powerful American Old Testament scholar, he was never able to find a genuine university appointment, and as I soon discovered, it is our deepest scholars and thinkers who are most alienated from and alien to our academic world.

 Already this was true of Charles Sanders Pierce, by common consent our greatest American philosopher, it is as though America most scorns its deepest sons and daughters; hence the truly American thinker and visionary is by necessity in exile, and while deep exile is known and realized in Europe, it is never so common there as it is in America.  Indeed, exiles in the American sense are unknown outside of America, it is here and here alone that actually to exist in ones community is to exist in exile from that community.  Certainly I have known exile throughout my theological life, but this is true of all of my real theological friends, we could not imagine being theologians without being in exile, and if this makes possible a genuine theological negation, it is such negation alone which makes possible a true theological affirmation.  Obviously this is Hegelian language, and it is Hegel who has most deeply influenced me philosophically, and perhaps theologically as well, and yet I profoundly resisted Hegel for many years, largely under the impact of Kierkegaard, but once I became open to Hegel, I became overwhelmed by his thinking, and this occurred in my first real book, The New Apocalypse.

 My venture, however, demands a full union of Hegelian and Nietzschean thinking, and while something like this is accomplished by Derrida, and by the Buddhist philosopher, Nishitani, as well, mine is a fully theological rather than a philosophical project, even if it demands the incorporation of philosophical thinking.  I had never encountered an Hegelian in the theological world, this did not occur until I met Mark Taylor, and the one Hegel scholar with whom I had studied, Karl Loewith, condemned all possible theological appropriations of Hegel, a condemnation that is dominant in the theological world, again with the exception of the deeper Catholic theological world.  Yet the simple truth is, as J. N. Findlay points out, that Hegel is the only philosopher who incorporated the very center of the Christian faith into his deepest thinking, only here that incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection are realized philosophically, and only here that crucifixion itself, which Hegel could name as an absolute self-emptying or self-negation, is the center of thinking itself.  Not only was Hegel the first philosopher to know the death of God, but his philosophical realization of that death in the Phenomenology of Spirit created a philosophical revolution, our deepest modern philosophical revolution, and if only at this crucial point, Hegel and Nietzsche are united.  While they deeply differ in their understanding of the death of God, for each the death of God is apocalypse itself, or an absolute transformation, and the only absolute transformation which has ever actually and historically occurred.

 What could a theological appropriation of Hegel mean?  In one sense, and perhaps the deepest sense, this is a useless project, for it is already accomplished by Hegel himself, that one thinker since Augustine who fully united philosophical and theological thinking, and did so with such depth that here theology itself seemingly disappears, or is wholly absorbed by philosophical thinking, as even the deepest theological categories are now purely philosophical categories, and it is philosophy and not theology which is here all in all.  Yet what Hegel did not give us is an explicit systematic theology, and to the extent that this occurs in his lectures on the philosophy of religion his deeper thinking is abated or disguised, and while Hegel began as a theologian, he violently rebelled against the theological world, even while insisting that it was that world and not his own thinking which had betrayed faith itself, so that it is Hegel who launches the first profound and in depth assault upon theology itself, and does so not upon the periphery but upon the very center of theological thinking.  Hegel knew that center with a profundity unequaled by any modern theologian, with the possible exception of Barth, and if Barth is the only full theologian who has succeeded in dissolving all philosophical thinking, this can be understood as a deep response to Hegel, but a response to Hegel that can be reversed, and can be reversed by seeking an Hegelian systematic theology.

 I am often asked why I do not write a systematic theology, but actually I have been writing a systematic theology throughout my theological career, what is commonly unrecognized is that a truly new theology demands a new theological language, new theological categories, new theological schemas, and new theological forms, hence it will be wholly unlike all established systematic theologies; already this is true of Hegels theological thinking, yet we have not yet appropriated it theologically.  Yes, Hegel accomplished that, but we have not, and far more importantly, Hegel thought and wrote before that cataclysmic event which is the end of modernity if not of history itself; this is the real gulf which lies between our world and Hegels world, so that inevitably Hegelian language and thinking are alien to us, or are so if we cannot unite it with a Nietzschean language and thinking, but if this is possible, and possible for theology itself, then here lies a way to a truly new theology.  It very much baffles me that I am now seemingly alone in pursuing such a path, of course, I once shared this with Mark Taylor, but Taylor has been driven by our new world into a very different path, one which I can only partially recognize as a theological path, yet that could simply mean that I am fully alienated from our new world.  Despite the fact that Taylors present work is in genuine continuity with his previous work, he is now apparently refusing all identification as a theologian, and while that might well be necessary for true theological work today, it is alien to me, because I can only know myself as a theologian.

 We live in a world philosophically dominated by the judgment that metaphysics has come to an end, but our philosophy continually enacts this ending, it is as though this is a repetition compulsion in the Freudian sense; for it never succeeds in fully negating metaphysics, a metaphysics seemingly always returning so that it must be negated once again, and perhaps this is most true of the metaphysical God.  Few recognize that it is only in the twentieth century that major philosophers have not been theological thinkers, only then that God seemingly disappears from our philosophical language, or is deeply hidden therein; until Levinas, if even then, there has only been one major twentieth century philosopher who actually thought about God, and this is Whilehead, although this did not occur until Whitehead moved to America in his final years.  Until quite recently, the University of Chicago Divinity School has been the center of Whiteheadian theological thinking, giving us what is commonly known as process or dipolar theology, John Cobb and Schubert Ogden have been its most creative exponents, and Cobb has been the theologian with whom I have conducted the longest theological dialogue, our correspondence is quite substantial, and is now housed in the library of Syracuse University.  In one sense, two theologians could not be as different as John and I are, but in another sense we are much alike, both of us are committed to a genuinely new theology, just as are committed to philosophical theology, but we are even more deeply alike in seeking a genuinely Buddhist ground, and in seeking an ecumenical theology in the fullest sense.  While the death of God is primary in my theology, Cobb parallels this in his full acceptance of the death of every metaphysical God except the Whiteheadian God, and this has grave theological consequences, for it shatters all of our traditional theological understanding.

 Cobb has always been my most judicious theological critic, he can enter my theological thinking as few others can, and his criticism is always truly responsible, being creative rather than destructive, and it has commonly given me new insight into my own work, new insight opening up new possibilities.  I fear that I have not given such criticism to his work, for while I have attempted again and again to do so, it continually eludes me, and this may well say something significant about my own theological isolation.  While Cobb was once the center of a flourishing theological community at Claremont and beyond, this may well be in abeyance today, but John was a theological teacher as I was never able to be; his students as I have known them are truly loyal to his work, and it is Cobb who has been the real theological center of the Buddhist-Christian dialogue.  I once published an article on the Buddhist ground of the Whiteheadian God in the theological journal which John founded, Process Studies, but Cobb goes far beyond this in his thinking, and while Cobb and I are apparently alone as theologians seeking a Buddhist ground for Christianity, I suspect that finally we do not deeply differ here, and if this is true, we cannot ultimately be theologically apart.  Can I say this of any other theologian whom I know?  Perhaps, but I would not dare say so openly, for in theology opposition is true friendship, only in opposition can genuine theological dialogue occur, and only thereby can theology truly advance.  What is most missing in our contemporary theological world, or in its manifest expressions, is any commitment to the forward movement of theology.  It is as though this could occur only in our ethical or social arenas, and then occur only by the disappearance of actual theological thinking, for in our theological world today it is theology itself which is the deepest enemy, and now it is seemingly being replaced by an apparently total pragmatic thinking, or by an endless critique of theological thinking itself.

 Robert Scharlemann is the philosophical theologian who has most engaged me in recent years, and I regard his The Being of God: Theology and the Experience of Truth, as a truly seminal theological work.  Here not only are philosophical and theological thinking truly united, but the Crucifixion is unraveled in thinking itself, and in pure thinking itself.  Scharlemann is the most isolated theologian whom I know, and also the one in the deepest exile, and possibly the deepest solitude, and this despite his real power as a teacher, and he has always been deeply alienated from the academic departments in which he has been forced to reside, and never more so than in his recently forced retirement from the University of Virginia.  No one could be personally or publicly less offensive than Bob, it is as though he is simply incapable of giving offense, and yet he has clearly been profoundly offensive, and most offensive to those who are most confident or secure theologically.  Here is someone who not only deeply knows theology, and knows it in faith, but this is a knowledge deeply lacerating to virtually all theologies, for this is a critique truly within, and within faith itself.  Scharlemanns formula, the being of God when God is not being God, is not simply an assault upon the metaphysical God, but upon every Godhead manifest apart from the Crucifixion, which is to say upon every Godhead which theology commonly knows, and while Bob has chosen Heidegger as his philosophical mentor, he repudiates Heideggers own theology insofar as it is ascertainable, seeking a Heideggerian thinking beyond Heidegger himself.  Perhaps this should be the path of every philosophical theology, just as it is in Augustines relation to Plato and in Aquinas relation to Aristotle, and hopefully in Altizers relation to Hegel and Nietzsche.

 Why is the academic world so inhospitable to theology today?  Of course, this is true of the Church, too, which apparently leaves theology without a home, but perhaps theology has always been most deeply homeless, an abandoned orphan in the world, and most abandoned where it is seemingly most needed.  We long said this of the communist world, but is it really different in the capitalist world, in our world, in America, and in that America which is supposedly the most religious country in the industrial world?  It was Barth himself who first established theology as the deepest enemy of religion, a primal position which has disappeared in that Barthianism which now dominates Protestant theology, so now we have a toothless theology, a theology wholly incapable of giving offense, and perhaps for that very reason it is now irrelevant and lifeless.  Yet the Catholic hierarchy can know theology as a true enemy, just as does our secular academic world, and perhaps there is hope in that, and as I look back upon the hope that we theologians once had, I try to recapture its original ground, for I refuse to believe that it was simply illusory, or only a product of our pride, and seek instead to recover what was once a source of such hope, which certainly seemed to be overwhelmingly real at that time.

 It was non-theologians who originally gave me the deepest theological hope, non-theologians who knew far more deeply than I did that ultimate crisis which had become our destiny, a crisis shattering modernity itself, and therefore dissolving modernitys comprehensive negation of theology itself; but this does not mean that it is possible to return to a pre-modern theology; it rather means that there is an overwhelming demand for a new theology, a new theology already latent in the hidden or disguised theological expressions of modernity itself, theological expressions alien to all established theology, but nevertheless overwhelmingly theological in their very depth.  I found that it was literary scholars who were most deeply unveiling this, discovering in our most profound literature a religious or ultimate vision that is simply inexplicable through our given theological categories; here was a deep treasure, indeed, but we could not understand it theologically, or, insofar as this occurred, it did so only by way of an ultimate challenge to all established theological understanding.  Then I discovered that many of our great writers were themselves deeply theological, and not only in their interior lives, but in the very depths of their greatest creations;  this is manifest for all to see in our great Christian epics, but also in our seemingly most anti-religious visionaries, such as Proust, Beckett, and Stevens.  Eric Heller, Northrop Frye, Georges Poulet, and J. Hillis Miller all taught me this, but I learned it far more intimately through Gregor Sebba and Walter Strauss, and when I finally became a Professor of English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I found that I had been appointed simply because I was a theologian, for it is literature itself which demands a theological explication.

 It was at Stony Brook that I truly began an exploration of the Christian epic tradition, for my book on Blake had treated Blake as an isolated visionary, I had no full realization then of the integral relationship between Blake and Milton, or of what I only gradually discovered as the deep relationship between Blake and Joyce; once these became established, it becomes possible to see the Christian epic as one epic, and as one integral and organic epic, and even if there is a vast distance between Dante and Joyce, it is possible to apprehend an organic evolution occurring between them, an evolution that is, of course, a deeply imaginative voyage, but it is no less so a theological voyage, and if I made any literary contribution at all in my exploration, it was in calling forth a theological interpretation of Finnegans Wake.  Now it is not insignificant theologically that all of our great Christian epics poets are deeply heretical; indeed, it is only here that we can discover the depths of heresy, or of a uniquely modern heresy, even Nietzsche pales in the wake of the Wake, and what a joy it was to discover Miltons De Doctrina Christiana, a book totally ignored in the theological world, and a book not only inseparable from Paradise Lost, but one which is a truly Biblical theology, and yet only truly Biblical by being profoundly heretical.  It is our poets who are our deepest heretics, Plato did not irresponsibly ban them from the state, and it is our literary scholars who are our deepest academic heretics, as manifest in the American Deconstructionist movement, which here so deeply differs from its French ground.

 I also interpret the Christian epic tradition as an apocalyptic tradition, and what could be a greater challenge to the theological movement of Demythologizing, for that apocalyptic ground which is here demythologized is now apprehended as being profoundly reborn in our epic voyage, an epic voyage comprehending simultaneously the interior and the cosmic voyages of modernity, and if it can be demonstrated that this is truly an apocalyptic voyage, then apocalypticism is universal in our world as it never was in the ancient world, and just as apocalypticism is more manifest today than ever previously in our history, the apocalypticism of the New Testament itself is a decisive way into our world, even if this is unknown to every New Testament scholar.  Now these are exciting theological possibilities, and my literary colleagues react to them seriously as my theological colleagues do not, largely I fear because theologians simply cannot believe that theology might accomplish so much, in many ways theologians are their own worst enemies,  for we find it impossible to believe that we have been given such opportunities, impossible to believe in the grace of theology itself.  But how is it possible to deny the very glory of the epic visions of Dante, Milton, Blake, and Joyce, and if this is truly an apocalyptic glory, and an apocalyptic joy, then theology has been given a key to this glory and joy, and what could be a greater theological hope?

 By this time I was publicly invisible as a theologian, and also invisible to the great bulk of the theological world, but I was now engaged in my most important work, and I had a confidence that I had never known before; all too gradually a comprehensive vision came to possess me, and I simply could not conceive of the possibility of doing anything more decisive, and of anything more decisive for theology itself.  Only seldom did I now speak publicly, and my preaching days were over, or over except for my teaching and writing, for mine continues to be a homiletic theology at bottom, and I will always be a Southern preacher.  My friends in literary and philosophical worlds find nothing odd about this, even if theologians do, and again and again I have discovered that the secular world wants us to be theologians; if nothing else we are as such strange creatures in the academic world, and even if that world can become hostile when we are too theological, and can recognize an enemy when theology is truly theological, it is just when we are most openly enemies that we discover our deepest friends, for conformist as the academic world surely is, it also thrives on and through heretics, and true theology is inevitably deeply heretical.  But the same could be said of genuine science, and at Stony Brook it was the ruling scientists who were my firmest academic political allies, and just as they looked upon philosophy, literary hermeneutics, and theology as being equally unscientific, it was they alone who were there open to the deepest challenge, and they appeared to relish such challenge when it came from me.

 I was the only theologian at Stony Brook, indeed, I thought of myself then as the only real theologian in world of the greater New York  area, for by this time both the Union Theological Seminary and the Yale Divinity School had collapsed or reversed themselves, Princeton and Yale were then as they are now centers of a dead or frozen theological orthodoxy, and this was the challenge which Ray Hart assumed as the opportunity of establishing a truly new theological world.  I had served as the vice-chairman of the executive committee of the faculty senate at Stony Brook, and my weak academic politicking did succeed in establishing a new and major religious studies chair at Stony Brook; I chose Ray for this position, not because I then knew him intimately, but rather because I knew he was a real theologian, and I deeply admired him for his transformation of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and his transformation of the American Academy of Religion itself.  Ray was ambitious for theology as few if any have been, and I knew that he could act forcefully in leading the theological and religious studies world ahead, but I did not expect him to refuse the professorship; instead he chose to use its funds to establish a full and comprehensive study of the opportunities before us, leading to a plan to establish a center of graduate religious studies at Stony Brook, both serving the New York City area, and establishing networks throughout the State University of New York.

 I think that this was the most ambitious plan for religious studies ever formulated in America or perhaps the world, soon we were negotiating with both the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Woodstock Theological Seminary of the Society of Jesus to join us, and there was the bonus of the move to Stony Brook of the Institute for the Advanced Study of World Religions, a Buddhist scholarly and meditative institute which already had a serious publishing program, and it was even more ambitious than we could imagine.  And we had the deep support of Elizabeth Luce Moore, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, and a real power in her own right.  Soon we were joined by Patrick Heelan, an Irish Jesuit philosopher of science, who as chairman had transformed our philosophy department, and was now a major administrator at Stony Brook.  Everything seemed to be moving beautifully, and while real problems did arise, such as the failure of both of the seminaries to join us, we probably would have succeeded, but just at that time the war in Vietnam ended, and in the consequent recession, which particularly affected New York, the state education budget was radically cut, and the opportunity for all new programs simply vanished.  It was Ray who was the decisive leader in all of this, and while we had exciting planning committee meetings with an international team of distinguished religious scholars, and meetings and serious programs throughout both the City and the State of New York, all of it finally came to nothing, and the chair which Ray again refused, was wisely offered to Robert Neville.
 Nevertheless, this was a period of excitement for me, we did have a truly major plan seriously in place, and it entailed not simply an interdisciplinary program, but an integration of Eastern and Western traditions, a full incorporation of Judaica with the intention of later incorporating Islam, an understanding of theology as a universal discipline with a fully philosophical ground, and the further intention of drawing major writers and artists from New York into the program as it evolved.  Throughout this period there were innumerable conversations and conferences with a wide variety of thinkers and scholars, we always met with full support, and it was simply impossible to question that there was a huge potential here, and one meeting an overwhelming need.  In this context, the traditional seminary or school of religion simply seemed to be anachronistic, and we were amazed that we met no real opposition to this venture; it is as though such a project was simply an inevitable consequence of the advent of that new world which was now fully at hand.  Certainly such forces were at play, the academic world was in fact becoming more interdisciplinary and more ecumenical, Christianity and Biblical studies were ceasing to be the center of religious studies in the country as a whole, and theology in the university world was ever more fully distancing itself from religious institutions and  traditions, just as the very distinction between the sacred and the profane or the religious and the secular was not only becoming anachronistic but was even reversing itself.  Who could doubt that we were truly entering a new world?  And how could we not be caught up in a joyous and even ecstatic hope?





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