Faith and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue | Lecture with Melissa Rogers | April 19th at 5:00pm | Nau Hall 211

Religion and Its Publics welcomes Melissa Rogers for a lecture entitled Faith and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, April 19 at 5:00pm in Nau Hall 211. Rogers will discuss ways in which religion played a role in the White House during the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as the future of faith and the federal executive branch.

In addition to a public lecture, Rogers will also meet with undergraduates about working in religion, law, and public policy in DC, and with graduate students on current controversies in religion and public life.

Melissa Rogers recently served as special assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama administration, and previously served as chair of the inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Date: April 19, 2018

Senior Fellows Meet in Washington, D.C.

The senior fellows of the Project on Religion and Its Publics met in Washington, D.C. for a second weekend of rich discussion and workshops. On Friday evening, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post came to talk with Jane Little about his latest book, One Nation After Trump.

The scholars probed him on truth, threats to civil institutions, and evangelicals; why the “values voters” who swallowed their concerns about Candidate Trump continue to support the president in numbers well beyond the general population.

The next day began with a discussion of Amanda Anderson’s 2016 book Bleak Liberalism, which argues that liberalism is more than Rawlsian proceduralism. On Anderson’s account, the liberal tradition is a rich one, enlivened by significant literary and critical voices, and containing a set of values and an aesthetic sensibility of its own.

The next object of discussion was senior fellow, Slavica Jakelić’s forthcoming book, tentatively titled The Practice of Religious and Secular HumanismsThe book defends humanism, but understood expansively: Humanism is not, contrary to some popular understandings, an inherently secular (much less atheistic) philosophy. Rather, it is a place of encounter between religious and secular worldviews, and one that recommends a way of being in the world that bears a certain resemblance to the Aristotelian concept of flourishing.

Over lunch, the group discussed several essays taken from Mark Greif’s Against Everything and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams. These writings are interesting examples of work produced by writers who are academically initiated (both earned PhDs at Yale), but who work outside the academy. Particular attention was paid to their writing style, from the structure of their essays down to the cadence of their sentences.

Saturday ended with a session dedicated to a recent essay by senior fellow, Thomas Lewis on moral formation, which on Lewis’s account has not ceased in modernity, despite influential claims to the contrary. We can see this in part by exploring the concept of Bildung in the philosophy of Hegel and the novels of Jane Austen, the dual focus of Lewis’s paper. A version of the essay the group read was recently presented at a conference and will be published in a forthcoming volume, but its insights stem from his larger research program and is connected to Lewis’s current book project, The Eclipse of Ethical Practices in the Modern West.

The weekend concluded with a discussion of possible directions forward for the group. Among other things, the group continues to reckon with the purpose and value of public scholarship, and how such work should fit into an academic research agenda. The Senior Fellows will convene again in Charlottesville in July.

Report by Evan Sandsmark, Religion and Its Publics Graduate Research Assistant

Jocabed Solano Miselis Visits Religion and Its Publics

Jocabed Solano Miselis is an indigenous, evangélica theologian from the Guna people, in Panama.

She co-directs the project Memorias Indígenas, through which she compiles and publishes the stories of Protestant and Evangelical churches among the indigenous/autochthonous/native peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Miselis visited Religion and Its Publics on March 19 to discuss her work with our own scholars and the broader University community.

Dr. Peter Mandaville for our Podcast The Square

In this edition of The Square, Professor Peter Mandaville surveys the dramatic shifts in the Islamic world since 9/11, assesses whether Saudi Arabia is really changing its tune on religious extremism, and what, if anything, the U.S. should do to foster change.

Peter Mandaville is Professor of International Affairs at George Mason University and a former senior advisor to the U.S. State Department.

To revisit our previous episodes of The Square, head to our Podcast page.

Congratulations to Our Emerging Scholars

Congratulations to our new Emerging Scholars. These early career scholars were selected to participate in a residency workshop in Charlottesville this summer. Participants will undertake focused readings, share work, and plan collaborations on academic projects of mutual interest. They will also be invited to continue supporting the work of Religion and Its Publics through publications of an academic and journalistic nature.

Karen Bray, Wesleyan College

Karen Bray is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy, and the chair of Religious Studies and Philosophy, at Wesleyan College. Her research areas include continental philosophy of religion; feminist, critical disability, black studies, queer, political, and decolonial theories and theologies; and secularism and the postsecular. She is particularly interested in exploring how secular institutions and cultures behave theologically. 

Deborah Casewell, Liverpool Hope University

Deborah Casewell is Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at Liverpool Hope University. Her work focuses on the inter-relation of philosophy and theology in modern thought and culture. She is currently working on two projects: one on nothingness and God in modern philosophy and theology, and another on asceticism, vulnerability, and ethical action.

Janna Hunter-Bowman, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Russell Johnson, University of Chicago

Russell Johnson is a PhD candidate in Philosophy of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research focuses on nonviolence, the philosophy of communication, and “us versus them” frameworks.

Jaisy Joseph, Boston College

Jaisy Joseph is finishing up her dissertation at Boston College entitled Reimagining Catholicity: An Interstitial Perspective. Her work brings postcolonial theory and ethnographic method into conversation with ecclesiological discussions of catholicity. She is particularly interested in how globalization and migration impact discussions of unity-in-diversity within the US Catholic Church. In the fall of 2018, she will begin her tenure-track appointment as an Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Seattle University.

Kyle Lambelet, Candler School of Theology

Dr. Kyle Lambelet is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and teaches and researches at the intersection of political theology, religious ethics, and social change. He is writing a book tentatively titled ¡Presente! Nonviolent Politics and the Resurrection of the Dead that develops an extended case study of the movement to close the School of the Americas. His current research explores the apocalyptic as a politically productive if dangerous lens for approaching ecological collapse.

Timothy McGee, Illinois College

Timothy McGee is the Chaplain and Coordinator of Interfaith and Inclusion Initiatives at Illinois College, having received his doctoral degree in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University in 2017. His research engages issues of race, class, and Christian theology, focusing especially on whiteness as a death-laden project of human redemption. His constructive reconsiderations of Christian doctrinal and political theology have been published in leading academic journals but also make their way into his preaching, teaching, and community engagement in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Meadhbh McIvor, University of Groningen

Méadhbh McIvor is a social anthropologist with a particular interest in the anthropologies of law and religion. Her​ research focuses on law, Christianity, and the politics of religious freedom in the contemporary United Kingdom, where she has carried out long-term participatory fieldwork split between a conservative Christian lobby group and a conservative evangelical church. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2016, and is currently Assistant Professor in Religion, Law and Human Rights at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. 

Luis Menendez-Antuna, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Luis Menéndez-Antuña is Assistant Professor of New Testament at California Lutheran University/Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and serves as Core Doctoral Faculty Member at the Graduate TheologicalUnion (Berkeley). His current research explores the queer and postcolonial afterlives of the biblical texts. He has published his research on journals such as Estudios Eclesiásticos, Ilu. Revista de Ciencias de las Religiones, Biblical Interpretation, Journal of Religious Ethics, and Early Christianity. His first monograph on Revelation, Thinking Sex with the Great Whore: Deviant Sexualities and Empire in the Book of Revelation is published by Routledge. 

Karen O’Donnell, Durham University 

Marika Rose, University of Winchester

Dr Marika Rose is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophical Theology at the University of Winchester. Her research focuses on the intersection of continental philosophy of religion and Christian theology, and she is currently working on a project about angels and cyborgs.

Hilary Scarsella, Vanderbilt University

Hilary is a PhD Candidate at Vanderbilt University in the Graduate Department of Religion. She is also the Director of Theological Integrity for Into Account – an organization that offers advocacy and resources to survivors of sexual violence connected to communities of faith. Her current research uses theological and psychological resources to address the intersection of memory, trauma, and disciplines of thought and practice that have the potential to interrupt sexualized forms of harm. 

Dr. Shaun Casey For Our New Podcast Series The Square

Shaun Casey has shuttled easily between the worlds of God and Mammon. He can readily converse with church leaders, academics, and politicians; he spent four years establishing religion at the heart of American diplomacy in the Obama State Department. He’s now director of The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, as well as one of our senior fellows here at Religion and Its Publics.

In this episode of The Square, he says the demand for a deep understanding of public religion has never been stronger, and takes aim both at academics who exile themselves from public discourse as well as those who would use religion for political purposes.

Listen to the conversation below:

To revisit our first episode of The Square featuring Luke Bretherton, Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, head to our Podcast Page.