Junior Earned Second Place Award at National Conference

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Westminster College junior religion and philosophy major John Allison earned second place for his paper at the fifth North American Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Philosophy (NAUCORP) March 25-26 at St. Francis University in Loretto.

"Translation or Ontotheology? A Study in Lila and the Play of Being" centers on the concept of dialogue and translation between religious traditions and what it would mean to dialogue in terms of silence rather than competing truth claims.

The paper presupposes the distinction between the cataphatic (familiar, positive way of speaking about the Sacred, e.g. ‘God is X, Y, or Z') and apophatic (less familiar, speaking negatively or in terms of naysaying, e.g. the mysterious God of 1Timothy 6:16 who dwells in ‘unapproachable light') theological language.  Basic to this second position is that the Sacred is beyond conceptuality and language: unknowable.  Allison argues that the apophatic way of thinking about the Sacred is more helpful for dialoguing between traditions than the cataphatic, which is the usual comparative method of religious dialogue.

"My experience at the conference was great," Allison said.  "I was able to interact with peers in my field of interest from some well-respected schools.  The chance to talk with active scholars in the field is always exciting."

Allison is a son of Dale and Kristine Allison of Pittsburgh and a graduate of homeschooling.

Allison attended the conference with Dr. Bryan Rennie, professor and chair of Westminster's Department of Religion, History, Philosophy and Classics and Allison's academic adviser, who will organize NAUCORP next year at Westminster.

Contact Rennie at (724) 946-7151 or email brennie@westminster.edu for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top tier liberal arts college, a national leader in graduation rate performance, and a "Great School, Great Price," according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 38th among liberal arts colleges, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 373 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

John Allison