Past Lectures

Lecture 2013-14:

"Thinking About Jesus in a Post-Christian World"

Presented by The Rev. Dr. William Willimon

The Rev. Dr. William Willimon is professor of the practice of Christian ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University. He is recently retired after serving eight years as bishop of the north Alabama conference of the United Methodist Church. For 20 years prior to that, he was dean of the chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke University, Durham, N.C.

He is the author of 60 books, with over 1 million copies sold. His Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the10 most useful books for pastors by the Academy of Parish Clergy. He also serves as editor-at-large for The Christian Century. In 2005,  a study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Bishop Willimon is the second most widely read author by mainline Protestant pastors.

In 1996, an international survey cconducted by Baylor University named him one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world.

Lecture 2012-13:

"The Mystical Music of the Middle East"
Presented by The Yuval Ron Ensemble

The Yuval Ron Ensemble endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the opposing people of the Middle East into a unique mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration.

Arabic, Jewish and Christian musicians are joined by a whirling dervish and a belly dancer, performing and discussing the sacred musical traditions of Judaism, Sufism (Islamic mystical tradition) and the Christian Armenian Church in a harmonious musical celebration.

Lecture 2011–12:

Robert Putnam“American Grace: How Religion Unites Us and Divides Us”
Presented by Robert Putnam

Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. He has served as chairman of Harvard’s Department of Government, director of the Center for International Affairs, and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also visiting professor and director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester in the U.K.

Putnam is author of the best-selling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, and he recently co-authored American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. His lecture will address the findings of the research that informs this book. Based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America, the book includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, which illuminate the trends described by Putnam and co-author David Campbell in the lives of real Americans. Nearly every chapter of American Grace contains a surprise about American religious life.

Lecture 2010–11:

“Sustaining the Commitment to Social Justice”
Presented by Dean Brackley

Dean Brackley, a Jesuit priest and professor of theology and ethics at the Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador, El Salvador, writes and speaks passionately about the role of faith in addressing social challenges in El Salvador and the global community. Having succeeded one of six Salvadoran Jesuits who were assassinated by the Salvadoran military in 1989, he continues to uphold the memory of their lives through his pastoral work and teaching.

Lecture 2009-10:

"Faith, Irony, and Power: Niebuhrian Lessons for Liberal Education"
Presented by Charles Mathewes

Charles Mathewes is associate professor of religious studies and principal of Brown College at the University of Virginia. Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, he is author of "A Theology of Public Life" (2007) and "Evil and the Augustinian Tradition" (2001).

Lecture 2008–09:

The Scandal of a Jewish Jesus
Presented by Amy-Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine Amy-Jill Levine serves as the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University. Levine describes herself as a “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches New Testament in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt.”

In her most recent book, The Misunderstood Jew, (Nov. 2007), Levine writes, “Jesus cannot be fully understood unless he is understood through first-century Jewish eyes and heard through first-century Jewish ears. Failure to understand the Jewish Jesus within his Jewish context has resulted in the creation and perpetuation of millennia of mistrust, and worse, between church and synagogue.”


Lecture 2007–08:

The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology
Presented by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker

John Grim and Mary Evelyn TuckerMary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, coordinators of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, are the series editors of World Religions and Ecology from Harvard Divinity School 's Center for the Study of World Religions.  They also are senior lecturers and scholars at Yale, holding appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. Grim teaches courses in Native American and indigenous religions, religion and ecology, and ritual and mysticism in the world's religions. Tucker specializes in the religions of East Asia, and teaches courses on religion and ecology, and cosmology and ecology.


Lecture 2006–07:

God’s Politics
Presented by Jim Wallis

Jim WallisThe Rev. Jim Wallis is the author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.  A leading figure in discussions of religion and politics in America, Wallis is the author of seven books and a nationally renowned preacher. In addition, he is the founder of Sojourners, a nationwide network of progressive Christians working for peace and justice. Wallis is also a co-founder of Red Letter Christians, a network committed to the message that “our faith cannot be reduced to only two hot button social issues – abortion and homosexuality. Fighting poverty, caring for the environment, advancing peace, promoting strong families, and supporting a consistent ethic of life are all critical and moral values.”


Lecture 2005–06:

Himnos de justicia, solidaridad y paz: “Hymns of Justice, Solidarity and Peace”
Presented by Guillermo Cuéllar, Donna Peña, Rafael Malpica-Padilla, Bill Dexheimer-Pharris, and Tom Witt

Hymns of Justice, Solidarity and PeaceThe 2006 Alice Pope Shade Lecture included a performance of songs from the Central American Masses (Misa Popular Salvadoreña, Misa Campesina Nicaragüense, Misa Popular Nicaragüense and Nueva Misa Mesoamericana) and commentary on the theology that informs them. The event featured Guillermo Cuellar of El Salvador, who composed the Misa Popular Salvadoreña. The Gloria from the mass was commissioned by Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated the day after the piece was presented to him. Cuéllar also composed the Nueva Misa Mesoamericana.

The commentator for the event was the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, the executive director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Division for Global Mission. He served as bishop of the ELCA’s Caribbean Synod from 1987 to 1993.


Lecture 2004–05:

Religion and Public Life
Presented by Jean Bethke Elshtain

Jean Bethke ElshtainJean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller professor of social and political ethics in the Divinity School, Department of Political Science and the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago, delivered a lecture exploring the role religion plays in the public life of a democracy. Elshtain is a political philosopher whose task has been to show the connections between political and ethical convictions. Her books include Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social Thought, The Family in Political Thought, Women and War, Democracy on Trial, a New York Times “Notable Book for 1995, and Who Are We? Critical Reflections, Hopeful Possibilities, for which she received the Theologos Award for Best Academic Book 2000 by the Association of Theological Booksellers. In 2003, Elshtain published Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, which was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2003 by Publisher's Weekly. Elshtain is also co-chair of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

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