About Peter

Peter Rollins is an author, philosopher, storyteller, producer and public speaker who has gained an international reputation for overturning traditional notions of religion and forming “churches” that preach the Good News that we can’t be satisfied, that life is difficult, and that we don’t know the secret.

Challenging the idea that faith concerns questions relating to belief, Peter’s incendiary and religionless reading of Christianity attacks the distinction between the sacred and the secular. It critiques theism and it sets aside questions regarding life after death to explore the possibility of life before death.

Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast where he earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory and Social Criticism (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He's the author of numerous books, including Insurrection, The Idolatry of God, and The Divine Magician. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, currently lives in Los Angeles and will die somewhere as yet not known.

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Pyrotheology: From Unraveling to Raveling

Peter's lifelong project is the development of a dynamic theory and technology of life that has been called Pyrotheology. Pyrotheology is designed to help us embrace the difficulties of existence and face the challenges of being human. It involves a deep critique of any religious/ideological system that promises an escape from doubt and anxiety. Exposing the true tyranny that the pursuit of certainty and satisfaction creates (by feeding the very problems the pursuit promises to fix).

Instead, Pyrotheology helps to transform the doubts and difficulties of daily life into a fuel that ignites a journey into the depth and density of life. Pyrotheology offers an incendiary understanding of faith that has nothing to do with the tired debates between theists and atheists. It uncovers how faith helps us resolutely confront our brokenness, joyfully embrace unknowing, and courageously face the difficulties of life. While this journey into the dark might seem unappealing compared with those who sell the "Good News" of certainty and satisfaction, Pyrotheology exposes how this "Good News" is actually very bad news. Instead revealing that we must tarry with the antagonisms of existence if we wish to see transformation in the personal and political world.

Rather than fearing we might unravel if we start to question our cultural, religious and political frameworks, Pyrotheology teaches the art of raveling. Both "Unraveling" and "Raveling" mean "to become divided into separate threads". But without the "un", the negative connotation of the first term is negated and the process is turned into something affirmative. Nothing changes, yet nothing remains the same. Instead of fearing the horror of unraveling, we learn to revel in it.

Theory / Technology

To explore the theory and technology of Pyrotheology, Peter has created a series of events and courses. Building on Fire and the Pyro-Seminars offer in-depth engagement with the theory, while the practice is expressed in the twin technologies of Transformance Art and Decentering Practices (Atheism for Lent, The Last Supper, The Evangelism Project and The Omega Course). Pints and Parables, Making Love and Wake offer an aesthetic entry into the subject.

WAKE Festival

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of a festival that combines incendiary theological exploration with the very best in art, music, magic, comedy, whisky tasting, talks and tours, then Wake is the place for you. Spread over a variety of amazing venues nestled in the cultural heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland, this boutique festival, draws together 100 misfits from all over the world for five incredible days packed with reflection, entertainment and conversation. For anyone wanting to delve into my work, this is the place to go.

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spark retreat

Spark is a bespoke retreat that is crafted to help spark your creative potential. This is not designed to help you escape your everyday life, but rather to help you find the tools and inspiration that will enable you to make positive changes in your everyday life. Think of it as a luxurious holiday, carefully crafted to help inspire you, challenge you, and get your creativity flowing. I’ll be curating the content, so I'll be there speaking, facilitating discussions and answering questions, as well as bringing in various experts.

The Evangelism Project

In this event, a group visits with people who have different religious, political, and cultural backgrounds. Not in order to evangelize them, but to be evangelized by them. The “good news” of the Evangelism Project is that, by seeing ourselves through the eyes of another, we might begin to see things in ourselves that were previously hidden. We are are drawn into this experience because of a direct encounter with ourselves through the gaze of the other. This is another of the Decentering Practices that emanates from Pyrotheology.

THE OMEGA COURSE

The Alpha Course was developed in 1977 by Charles Marnham as a way of helping people enter what CS Lewis called "mere Christianity". In contrast, The Omega Course offers the exit. While both cover the same material, The Omega Course draws out how there are numerous - often conflictual - ways to interpret the Christian tradition. Helping participants encounter the diversity of thought within the tradition, deepen their own reflections and wrestle with their past and present views.

Pyro-seminars

Every month I offer a lecture that encourages people go deeper into the subversive heart of pyrotheology. Each talk is designed to delve into incendiary philosophical and theological ideas in an endeavor to provide some good old-fashioned intellectual stimulation. But they're also crafted to penetrate our hearts and do surgery to our souls. There are already dozens of seminars to watch or listen to, all of which are designed to help you to discover how you might experience a deeper, richer and more engaged form of life.

BUILDING ON FIRE

Offering an opportunity for participants to delve into the theory and technology of Pyrotheology, these one day and two events events take place all over the world. Each one is individually crafted, but the common thread that binds them relates to uncovering the power of facing our doubt, anxiety and struggle. Neither fighting them, nor resigning ourselves to them, but rather discovering how we can listen to them, learn from them and turn them into a force for fundamental transformation.

The Last Supper

A small band of people gather around a large table to share a meal, drink wine and invite a controversial figure to discuss a dangerous idea. The guest symbolically occupies the seat of Christ while those gathered carefully weigh their words to decide whether or not this will be their last supper. This Decentering Practice is designed to disrupt our ways of seeing the world in an entertaining and intellectually stimulating environment. By seeing ourselves through the eyes of the other, we come to question ourselves in a productive way.

Atheism For Lent

By exploring atheism as a spiritual practice of purification, we allow it to become a ritual of exorcism powerful enough to cast out religious dogmatism. So forget forsaking chocolate, TV or tiddlywinks. This course will draw you in to what some mystics call the "Cloud of Unknowing". Participants receive daily reflections and weekly talks designed to confront us with the greatest critiques of religion. Critiques that have the power to purify us of any festering fundamentalism and to help us glimpse a richer type of faith.

MAKING LOVE

Peter has written a script for both a short and feature length film that explores some central themes in his work through the lens of a dark, philosophical thriller. It begins in the aftermath of a passionate affair cut short by its discovery by the woman's husband. As fate would have it, the man and woman are reunited one last time in a hotel and get to spend one hour together. If the man stays overnight, he'll be killed. But, if he leaves after the hour, he'll never see her again. Be part of making the film become a reality. 

Pints And Parables

Parables are a type of "dis-course" that knock us off course, onto a radically new one. They confront us with disturbing truths we might otherwise miss and reveal what lies in darkness. In Pints and Parables Peter shares some of his favorite stories from around the world, as well as offering some of his own. At turns funny, poignant, irreverent and shocking, these nights are designed to cut into us with surgical precision, reaching the hidden recesses of our soul, operating on parts of our being that more direct speech can’t touch.

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