Vision, Voice, and Vocation: Arts and Theology in a Climate for Change

Vision, Voice, and Vocation_ Arts and Theology in a Climate for Change


Our Vision, Voice, and Vocation Conference has been postponed until further notice. 

The unforeseen increase of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions it has brought to our lives at this time, including restrictions on public gatherings and to travel, render this decision both unfortunate and predictable.

We remain committed to running the conference when it is safe to do so. Further information about that will be posted here on the ATA website.

If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to the ATA website and/or following the work of ATA via social media – whether on Twitter or Facebook.


This event will provide a unique conversation space for artists, performers, creatives, academics, and activists, to consider the vital role of the imagination in today’s complex climates – social, cultural, environmental, political, racial, religious, spiritual, intellectual, etc.

It will also invite conversation around further questions: What kinds of change? What are the grounds and manner of hope, transformation, and resilience? What might the arts and theology have to contribute to such discourse and action, if anything? How do we attend to the margins of this discussion, and speak and act more holistically as communities of change?

The keynote speakers for this event are Emmanuel Garibay, Lyn McCredden, Jione Havea, Naomi Wolfe, and Trevor Hart.

An invitation for papers and presentations invites contributions from cross-disciplinary fields such as theology, visual arts, music, performance, literature, cultural studies, poetry, philosophy, and history, with spaces available also for creative presentation of work in live performance or in a public gallery.

This event is part of the Art/s and Theology Australia network.

DATES: 16–19 July 2020

VENUE: The Centre for Theology & Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville, Victoria


Manny.jpgEmmanuel Garibay, ‘The Third Option’

I’ll be dealing with three topics that I’m personally involved in. The first one is titled the ‘third option’, art beyond the market and the institutions. This is about artists initiating an alternative venue of engaging the public in a sustainable way. The second is on reconstituting the remnants of the unfinished people’s struggle. This is about gathering former activists to revive their commitment in a continuing struggle with a renewed vision. The third is concerns establishing subversive and physical communities that nurture an alternative culture. Throughout, I will also be concerned to attend to three further matters: the legacy of patriarchy as an ideology that the church nurtures and propagates (with the arts as its main instrument), art history as the evolution of theology, and the responses of those who resist.

Emmanuel Garibay is a Philippine painter known as much for his expressionist figurative style as for the content of many of his works, which often express a keen social and political consciousness. After graduating from the University of the Philippines with a degree in fine arts, he studied European and Philippine masters on his own. His first exhibition was held in 1993, and he built on some of the recognition he received there by exhibiting and traveling more widely in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Garibay often paints ordinary people in scenes of political, religious, and social complexity, where controversial issues of justice and truth are presented vigorously and colourfully. ‘Art is all about an idea that you want to share, a way of seeing the world that you want people to appreciate in their world’.

McCredden 1Lyn McCredden, ‘Languages of the Sacred’

How does literary and popular culture understand ‘the sacred’? In investigating the work of musicians like Nick Cave, novelists such as Tim Winton, or poets like Les Murray, I will be asking what constitutes sacredness. What is the relationship between sacred and secular in their work, and what role does language play in constituting the sacred? But differently, what happens when we read writers like Australian poet Pam Brown, who avows no overt connection to ‘the sacred’, and we seek sacred dimensions in her work? In reading for ‘the sacred’, this paper will ask what we learn about sacredness, and its languages, in contemporary Australia.

Lyn McCredden is Professor and Acting Head of the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. She specializes in Australian literary and popular culture, literature and the sacred, poetry, and the fiction of Tim Winton. Her monographs include James McAuley (Oxford University Press, 1992), Bridgings: Reading Australian Women’s Poetry (with Rose Lucas, Oxford University Press, 1996), Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions (Oxford University Press, 2001), Intimate Horizons: The Post-colonial Sacred in Australian Literature (with Bill Ashcroft and Frances Devlin-Glass, ATF Press, 2009), Luminous Moments: the Contemporary Sacred (ATF Press, 2010), The Fiction of Tim Winton: Earthed and Sacred (Sydney University Press, 2018), and a book of poetry, Wanting Only (Ginninderra Press, 2018). She is a poet, a gardener, a traveler.

JioneJione Havea, ‘Drawing Jonah with Maui in-sites’

Maui is celebrated in native circles as the demigod who fished up the islands of Pasifika from the deep sea (moana), pushed the sky up so that creation may unfold, and tricked the gods at Pulotu (underworld) to bring fire into the world of the living. He was a trickster, and navigator of the limits of creation and the patience of the gods. How might artists draw Jonah with these Maui “in-sites”? In this talanoa (presentation), special attention will be given to key turning points in the scriptural accounts of Jonah: the guts to run away from the presence of God (a figure for prophets and artists who refuse God’s call, and take up another vocation), to use the form of prayer (from the belly of the fish) to dig at God, to take the side of Nineveh (his people, in the Qur’an), and to convert God (i.e., make God repent).

Jione Havea is a native pastor (Methodist Church in Tonga) without a parish, and primary carer for a 5-year-old who is troubled by Disney’s depiction of Maui (in Moana, 2016). We live, work, play and dream around the land of the Wurundjeri nation, and are at home also at Kalaka, Waitemata, Bengaluru, and a few other places, dry and watery. We live for and because of stories, written and oral. We tell and twist stories, and stories twist and pinch us back.

Naomi Wolfe

Naomi Wolfe is an Aboriginal academic at the Australian Catholic University, and the Indigenous Theologies Project Officer at the University of Divinity, Australia. She is a member of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, an international community of Indigenous and non-Indigenous theologians where she volunteers as the Academic Dean for Australian programs.


Trevor Hart, ‘Imagination, Hope, and Faithful Resistance’

Christians are those called by God’s Spirit to dream dreams and see visions, viewing the world in the light of God’s promise and engaging in risky acts of ‘guerilla theatre’, rather than being constrained by the ideologies, actualities and possibilities of the here and now. Faith in the God and Father of Jesus Christ is thus essentially a defiant matter of ‘looking forward to’, a strain of resistant living that refuses to submit to hopelessness even when life’s experiences seem to make this the most reasonable option. In a world equally traumatized by past horrors and enthralled by future terrors, where each new messianic claimant (technological, medical, political, economic) pales sooner or later into a version of the same old same old, ‘hopeful’ living demands of us acts of radical imagination —reimagining the world as a place created, sustained and purposed by holy love rather than the unfortunate accident of processes finite and fallen. Drawing on some ideas explored in Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart’s book Hope Against Hope, this session will grapple with the vital importance of our human capacity for imagination (not least artistic imagination) in energizing and directing the faithful insistence of Christians on living against the grain and in the teeth of so much in the world as we know and are widely encouraged to experience it. Where Mahler, Donne, Tolkien, and Rage Against the Machine meet the Sermon on the Mount.

Trevor is Rector of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St Andrews, Scotland, and former Professor of Divinity in the University of St Andrews, and Director of that university’s Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts. He has a longstanding interest in ways that Christian faith and theology have, can, and should be engaged constructively not just with the arts, but with other aspects too of our essentially imaginative condition. As those created in the image of an imaginative God, he insists, we are called to share actively and ‘creatively’ in God’s own Creative project. Trevor has lectured widely across the world on these themes and is the author of numerous books exploring them, including Between the Image and the Word: Theological Engagements with Imagination, Language and Literature (Ashgate, 2013) and Making Good: Creation, Creativity, and Artistry (Baylor University Press, 2014). Trevor is married to Rachel, has three adult children and a Border Terrier called Grizzle, and when not at work enjoys woodworking, bee-keeping, running, and messing around with a growing collection of guitars.


Emmanuel Garibay, Republica, 2005. Used with permission of the artist.

Academics and practitioners in the fields of theology, visual art, music, performance, literature, cultural studies, poetry, philosophy, and/or history are invited to send an Abstract (approx. 250 words) of their proposed presentation, plus a short bio, to Jason Goroncy (email) by 31 March 2020.







  • Jason Goroncy, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, Whitley College [email]
  • Rod PattendenMinister at Adamstown Uniting Church, and former chairperson of the Blake Prize for Religious Art [email]
  • Christina RowntreeTheology and the Arts Ministry, Uniting Church in Australia [email]

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