John Albert Hall Lectures

The John Albert Hall Lectures are a multi-part speaker series featuring expert perspectives on the changing role of religion in contemporary society. Support for this series is generously provided by the Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets John Albert Hall Trust. Lectures are free and open to all members of the public and university community. 

Due to precautions related to Covid-19, we will also run parallel online access to these lectures. This online access will be live on Zoom and recordings will be available on our YouTube channel and Vimeo. Zoom registration information will be provided as soon as it is ready. Click here or the button below to access our YouTube channel.

Click here to watch the lecture recordings on our YouTube channel.

Video recordings of past John Albert Hall Lectures are available on the CSRS vimeo site

Upcoming JAH Events

Resisting Structural Evil: Climate, Economy and Hope

featuring Cynthia Moe-Lobeda & David Seljak

Date/time: Thursday, December 2 at 5:00 to 6:30 pm PT

Location: Engineering and Computer Science Building 125 

Viewing online: This lecture requires registration to view online. Register with the button seen below.

Click here to register to view Dec 2 lecture online.

 

Climate justice may be the foremost moral challenge of the 21st century. Race and class dimensions of the climate crisis are haunting. While caused primarily by high-consuming people, climate change is wreaking death and destruction foremost on impoverished people who also are disproportionately people of color. How are we to face this crisis with courage, wisdom, agency, and hope? What do spirituality and religion bring to this question? What is the role of economic life in building sustainable Earth-human relations? Join us for honest and hopeful inquiry into these burning questions.

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and author of the award-winning Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation.

David Seljak is Professor of Religious Studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Waterloo.

The John Albert Hall Interview Series

The interviews were a forum for individuals with notable careers in religion and civil society to reflect on contemporary issues. 

Values Are the New Religion: An Interview with Linda Woodhead

In the 2020-2021 John Albert Hall Lecture Series "Values for a New World," Linda Woodhead delivered a lecture entitled "Values Are the New Religion." In this follow-up interview with host Ian Alexander, Linda goes deeper into aspects of her thesis. July 2021.

A video recording of this interview is available here.

Up Close and Personal with Herbert O'Driscoll

Herbert O’Driscoll is a respected and beloved writer, preacher, and proponent of Celtic spirituality. Last fall, he turned ninety. This spring, his latest book is being published. Entitled A Greening of Imaginations, it imagines the “back stories” of some favourite Biblical scenes and characters. In conversation with Ian Alexander, Herbert O’Driscoll reflects on his life and reads from his new book, copies of which will be available for purchase and autographing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Light refreshments from 9:30 am

Public Interview at 10:00 am

St. George's Anglican Church, Cadboro Bay, 3909 St. George's Lane

Please consult the poster for more information.

Reforming Tradition: A Conversation with Remi De Roo

Bishop Remi de Roo and Ian Alexander

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hickman Building, Room 105

11:45am to 1:15pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Interview Synopsis: One of Canada’s longest serving Catholic bishops, participant in Vatican II, scholar, author, advocate on behalf of the poor and critic of capitalism--Remi De Roo has led a remarkable 94 year life of faith in action. Join him for an intimate encounter that includes a public interview with former CBC host Ian Alexander, and questions from the audience. Light refreshments will be served.

Speaker Bio: Remi De Roo holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, in Rome, and is the only living Canadian bishop to have participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He is the author of several books, including Cries of Victims--Voice of God (1986) and Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop (2012). Considered a radical by some for his social views and reforming spirit, De Roo has clashed with popes and prime ministers in his efforts to champion the goals of Vatican II.

An Interview with Lois Wilson

Lois Wilson and Ian Alexander

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

First Metropolitan United Church,
932 Balmoral Road at Quadra Street

7:00 to 8:30 pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Interview Synopsis: Retired senator, first female moderator of the United Church of Canada, prolific author, national and international advocate and administrator—Lois Wilson has led a remarkable ninety-year life of faith in action. Join her for an intimate encounter, including a first-person interview with former CBC host Ian Alexander, questions from the audience, and a chance to meet Lois in person.

Speaker Bio: Lois Miriam Wilson served as the first woman president of the Canadian Council of Churches (1976-1979), first Canadian president of the World Council of Churches (1983-1991), Chancellor of Lakehead University (1991-2000), and Canadian senator (1998-2002). She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Pearson Medal of Peace. Dr. Wilson is currently a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and distinguished minister- in-residence at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto.

Past JAH Events

Final instalment of the Values for a New World series: 

Values for a New World: A Panel Discussion

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021  11:00 am to 12:30 pm PDT

on JAH Zoom - A video recording of this lecture is now available here.

This is a panel discussion featuring:  

  • Esi Edugyan (1st speaker of the series)
  • Miroslav Volf (2nd speaker of the series)
  • Noam Chomsky (3rd speaker of the series)
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon (4th speaker of the series)
  • Linda Woodhead (5th speaker of the series)

 

Fifth instalment of the Values for a New World series: 

Values are the New Religion with Linda Woodhead

Thursday, March 4th, 2021  11:00 am to 12:30 pm PST

on JAH Zoom 

A video recording of this lecture is now available here.

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‘Value statements’ have become ubiquitous, churned out by schools, hospitals, businesses and national governments. Some are enshrined in law. By examining this rush to values and considering which values are most frequently cited, we can learn much about ourselves, our institutions and our societies. But it is in understanding the tensions and clashes between values that we have the best opportunity for thinking constructively about our possible, probable and preferable futures.

Linda Woodhead is Distinguished Professor of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University in the UK. Her research focuses on the decline of institutional religion and the rise of new spiritualities, values, and nonreligious commitments.

Fourth instalment of the Values for a New World series: 

Commanding Hope with Thomas Homer-Dixon

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021  5:00 pm to 6:30 pm PST 

on JAH Zoom

A video recording of this lecture is now available here.

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Our environment, economy, societies, cultures and institutions are changing dramatically—too often for the worse. Without radical new approaches, our planet will become poorer, more violent, more authoritarian. Thomas Homer-Dixon offers an argument for reinvigorating our cognitive strengths and belief systems to affect urgent systemic change, and renew hope in a positive future for everyone on earth.

Following the lecture there will be a discussion with panelists Katie Stockdale (philosophy, University of Victoria), Lisa Kretz (philosophy, University of Evansville), Britt Wray (broadcaster and writer), and Ian Alexander (CBC host and Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets), as well as audience Q&A.

Thomas Homer-Dixon is Director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University, and University Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. He specializes in the use of complexity science to examine threats to global security. His latest book is Commanding Hope.

Third instalment of the Values for a New World series: 

Confluence of Challenges: The Fate of the Human Experiment with Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021  11:00 am to 12:30 pm PST

on JAH Zoom-Zoom registration is now closed.  

A video recording of this lecture is now available here.

 

photo credit: Uli Deck/dpa

The worldwide pandemic has laid bare the existential challenges of our time, including systemic racism, economic inequality and environmental collapse. There are calls to rethink our political systems and social relations. What might this new world look like? Join us to consider the fate of the human experiment with one of the eminent thinkers of our time.

Noam Chomsky is a distinguished linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and political activist. Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, he is author of numerous groundbreaking works on topics ranging from linguistics to war, politics, and mass media. Now in his ninth decade, he remains a trenchant and timely social critic.

Second installment of the Values for a New World series: 

At Home in the World? by Miroslav Volf

Thursday, January 7, 2021  5:00 to 6:30 pm

on JAH Zoom

A video recording of this lecture is now available. Please visit this CSRS vimeo page to access to the video. Thank you for your interest in our lectures.

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Humans have always longed to be at home in the world. Yet today, we seem further away than ever from realizing that dream, more alienated than ever from the “world of things” around us. Drawing on the resources of the Christian tradition, this lecture will sketch a vision of the world as a “home of homes” and attempt to reignite longing for it.

Miroslav Volf is Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale University and Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. He is author of numerous books, including Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation and a global leader in interfaith engagement.

First installment of the Values for a New World series: 

Writing and the Great Change Upon Us: an online conversation between Esi Edugyan & Tim Lilburn

Thursday, December 3, 2020  5:00 to 6:30 pm

on JAH Zoom 

A video recording of this lecture is now available. Please visit this CSRS vimeo page to access to the video. Thank you for your interest in our lectures.

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The worldwide pandemic has laid bare the existential challenges of our time, including systemic racism, economic inequality and environmental collapse. There are calls to rethink our political systems and social relations. What might this new world look like? Must it be founded on fundamentally different values and assumptions? What is the role of the writer in these times? Join us for a live discussion with two major Canadian literary figures based in Victoria.

Esi Edugyan is a novelist, essayist and cultural commentator. She is author of the best selling Half-Blood Blues (2011) and Washington Black (2018), and a two-time winner of the Giller Prize, Canada’s highest literary award.

Tim Lilburn is a poet, essayist, and professor. His poetry collection Kill-site won the Governor General’s Award.

JAH Events Archives

2018-2020 Guest Speaker Series

Ideafest 2020: Religion, Spirituality and Ecology in the Anthropocene

Thursday, March 5th 2020  7:00 to 9:30 pm UVic Cinecenta

A video recording of this lecture is available here07_burtynsky_phosphor-website.jpg

Phosphor Tailings Pond #4, Near Lakeland, Florida, USA 2012. photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto. Concise photo credit: © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto​ 

Religious traditions and ideas have played many roles throughout history, but one their most common functions has been to provide guidance to humans coping with mysterious and threatening aspects of the natural world. Arguably, we are now in a period some call the “Anthropocene,” in which it is humans who have the most profound impact on the environment and climate. How might scholars understand the role religions have played in creating what many think of as a new geological epoch? How might the scale and implications of these changes be communicated to people responsibly, without inducing paralysis or terror? How might religious communities respond to this new situation? What are the most and least helpful ways of thinking about and responding to this new period? 

In this Ideafest session in the first week of March, participants met at Cinecenta to watch the recent film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (by Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky, and Nicholas de Pencier), and then engaged in a moderated conversation with the film-makers, activists, and scholars of religion, society, and the environment about the implications of this new historical period for our common lives. Our panel included Matthew Humphrey (A Rocha Canada), April Nowell (UVic) and Trevor Hancock (UVic).

This Ideafest event was a part of the 2019-2020 John Albert Hall Lecture series, a collaboration between the CSRS and the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, with generous funding from the John Albert Hall Trust.

“Crossing the Red Lines: What Sex Says about a Changing Arab World”

Thursday, January 30th

5:30 to 7:00 pm Hickman Building (HHB), Room 105

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

“If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.” For the past decade, Shereen El Feki has been travelling across the Arab region, talking to people about sex: what they do, what they don’t, what they think and why. Shereen’s research and advocacy uses sex as a lens to better understand movements on a bigger stage, in politics and economics, religion and tradition.

Shereen El Feki, journalist and Professor of Global Practice at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, is the author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, an award-winning look at the intersection of gender, sexuality, politics, economics and religion across the Arab region, now a series of short films airing on BBC World. As Regional Director of Promundo, Shereen is currently leading the largest ever survey on men, masculinities and gender roles in the Middle East and North Africa.

 diarmaid-macculloch-webpage.jpgIn the Fall of 2019, University of Oxford historian Diarmaid MacCulloch delivered two public lectures at the University of Victoria. MacCulloch is one of the world’s foremost scholars of Early Modern Christianity and author of numerous award-winning books, including A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.   

MacCulloch’s Thursday, October 3rd lecture, “Christianity Past, Present and Future: The Big Picture,” refocused the story of Christianity to show what an unexpected product modern Western Christianity was given its origins as an Eastern religion. He emphasised the power of ideas to reshape human affairs, and considers the pasts, the presents and the futures of the world’s most widespread faith.

In his Tuesday, October 8th lecture, “Christianity and Islam: Drawing the Right Lessons from History,” MacCulloch considered the complicated relationship between two great religions of the Middle East over 1400 years and rejects attempts to frame this relationship as a “clash of civilizations”. Rather, he argued, there was a history of borrowing between Christianity and Islam, both in terms of ideas and practices, and this history needed to be explored as part of any comprehensive effort to understand and engage present difficulties.

Both lectures was held in the Engineering and Computer Science Building (ECS) room 123 from 5:30-7:00pm. Video recordings of the lectures are available for Oct 3 and Oct 8. Please find a poster here for the lecture information.

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The Christian Left and Canadian Politics

The Hon. Bill Blaikie 

in conversation with Lisa Helps, Patricia Lane, Alex Nelson, Mary Louise Meadow and Paul Bramadat

Sunday, March 17th 2019

First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Road, Victoria

1:30 - 3:00 pm

In this election year, how might Christians (and non-Christians) interested in progressive politics act and think? Should activists prioritize certain dire global situations (e.g., climate change), other more local challenges (e.g., homelessness), or international crises (e.g., refugees in Europe)? Do progressive Christians and like-minded members of other communities have a special role to play in contemporary Canadian politics? Join us for this open conversation with one of Canada’s senior political thinkers.

For more information, please see the event poster.

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Christian Fascism and the Rise of Donald Trump

Christopher Hedges

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hickman Building, Room 105

5:00pm-6:20pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here. An audio recording of the lecture is also available on our SoundCloud account. 

In this free public lecture, author and activist Christopher Hedges discusses the current state of religion and politics in the United States.Christopher Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author, Princeton University lecturer and ordained Presbyterian minister. His latest book is America: A Farewell Tour (2018).

Photo credit for posters: Michael Nigro

Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please see the event poster.

An audio recording of the lecture is now available on our SoundCloud account. 

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Gender, Justice and the Church

Cheri DiNovo, Jennifer Henry, and Gina Messina moderated by Michelle Slater

Thursday, November 29, 2018

MacLaurin Building, Room A144

5:00pm-6:20pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

The longstanding and systemic mistreatment, underpayment and sexual harassment of women and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community has been firmly in the public spotlight this past year thanks to movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up. But how have Christian communities wrestled with these issues? Have there been gains in equality, empowerment and safety in Christian settings? Have Christians been advocates for change in wider society?  Three leading women reformers reflect on the implications of biblical teachings and tradition in the struggle for justice in church and society.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Cheri DiNovo is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and a former Ontario MPP. She introduced more successful LGBTQ2S+ legislation than any other MPP in Ontario history.

Jennifer Henry is the Executive Director of Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and one of Canada’s leading proponents of Indigenous rights, as well as gender and migrant justice.

Gina Messina is associate professor at Ursuline College, and co-founder of the online project Feminism and Religion. Her most recent book is Jesus in the White House (2018).

Michelle Slater is lead minister at Oak Bay United Church.

If you missed the event, we have a video recording of the panel discussion on Vimeo.

September-November 2017: Crisis, Conscience, Community: The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

We had a special series of four lectures, between September and November in 2017, focusing on themes related to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Please find each lecture below for more details.

Why the Reformation Still Matters

Brad S. Gregory

Thursday, November 30, 2017
David Turpin Building, Room A120
5:00 pm - 6:20 pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Lecture Synopsis: Regardless of our own religious views or even whether or not we are religious believers at all, the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century continues to influence life in North America in the early twenty-first century. What started with one man, Martin Luther, and his objections to misunderstandings and abuses of indulgences quickly became a movement that escaped his control in central Europe, dividing not only evangelicals from defenders of the Roman Church but also evangelicals among themselves. The European religio-political conflicts from the 1520s through the 1640s tore apart a continent, prompting ideological and institutional changes that, taken together, forged the modern Western world as reactions to the problems inherited from the Reformation era. The Reformation unintentionally made Western Christianity into an enduring problem, the solutions to which have circumscribed religion and unintentionally led to the secularization of Western society.

Speaker Bio: Brad Gregory is Professor of History and Dorothy G. Griffin Collegiate Chair at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also Director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. From 1996-2003 he taught at Stanford University, where he received early tenure in 2001. He specializes in the history of Christianity in Europe during the Reformation era and on the long-term influence of the Reformation era on the modern world. He has given invited lectures at many of the most prestigious universities in North America, as well as in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Israel, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. Before teaching at Stanford, he earned his Ph.D. in history at Princeton University and was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows; he also has two degrees in philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.  His first book, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Harvard, 1999) received six book awards.  Professor Gregory received two teaching awards at Stanford and has received three more at Notre Dame. He was the inaugural winner (2005) of the first annual Hiett Prize in the Humanities, a $50,000 award from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture given to the outstanding mid-career humanities scholar in the United States. His most recent book is entitled The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Belknap, 2012), which received two book awards.  His forthcoming book is entitled Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts that Continue to Shape Our World (Harper, 2017). 

Associated Readings: The following readings have been provided by the guest lecturer to provide supplementary information about their talk:

  • Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1999).

  • The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012).

  • “The Radical Reformation,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation, ed. Peter Marshall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 115-151.

Reformation and Canada: Theme and Variations

Phyllis D. Airhart

Thursday, November 9, 2017
David Turpin Building, Room A120
5:00 pm - 6:20 pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Lecture Synopsis: The ideal of reforming the institutional church both united and divided Christians after the momentous events of 1517. The explorers and settlers who came to Canada shared an assumption that a “Christian society” would take shape in the New World. But they also brought with them the rival loyalties of a divided Christendom. Long after the Peace of Westphalia ended the wars of religion in Europe in the 17th century, the competition for souls continued on a number of fronts, among them the race to convert Indigenous peoples, moral campaigns aimed at infusing Canadian society with Christian values, and the movement to unite three Protestant churches in an effort to meet more effectively the religious needs of newcomers to Canada.

Organized religion is now situated in a new world order that is as disruptive to old assumptions about belief and belonging as the social revolution that propelled the European Reformation five hundred years ago. Over the last half century, the ideal of religiously pluralistic Canada has replaced the assumption of a Christian society. The verbal skirmishes between Catholics and Protestants have ended. And yet the theme of “reformation” has been playing with new variations in recent decades. The debate about belief is not only about competing doctrines of God, but whether there is a God. The institutional church faces challenges not only from reformers seeking new forms of spiritual community, but also from those who are indifferent to belonging to any community of faith.

Speaker Bio: Phyllis Airhart is Professor of the History of Christianity and Interim Principal (2017–18) at Emmanuel College. She is also on the faculty of the Graduate Centre for Theological Studies at the Toronto School of Theology and cross-appointed to the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She is the author of A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada, winner of the 2016 book prize from the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and shortlisted for the 2015 Canada Prize in the Humanities from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Her other publications include Serving the Present Age: Revivalism, Progressivism, and the Methodist Tradition in Canada as well as a number of articles on religion in Canada, most recently “The Accidental Modernists: American Fundamentalism and the Canadian Church Union Debate” in Church History (March 2017). She is co-editor of Faith Traditions and the Family; a special issue of Toronto Journal of Theology titled Christianizing the Social Order: A Founding Vision of The United Church of Canada; and Doing Ethics in a Pluralistic World: Essays in Honour of Roger C. Hutchinson. Airhart is a past recipient of Victoria University’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the United Church of Canada’s Davidson Trust Award for excellence in teaching and scholarship in theological education. Her research interests include North American Christianity, religion and public life, and the history of spirituality.

Associated Readings: The following reading has been provided by the guest lecturer to provide supplementary information about their talk:

  • "Listening to the World." Chap. 8 in A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013).

Reshuffling the Seen and the Unseen: A Reappraisal of the Legacy of the Reformation

Carlos Eire

Thursday, October 12, 2017
David Turpin Building, Room A120
5:00 pm - 6:20 pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Lecture Synopsis: Over one hundred years ago, Max Weber argued that Protestantism “disenchanted” the world and eliminated “magic” from it.  Today, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and ask what effects it may still have on us, this assertion needs to be reappraised. Did Protestants really vanquish “magic,” and, if so, what was that “magic”, exactly, or the “disenchantment” that accompanied its demise?  Exploring the various ways in which Protestantism redefined the sacred might yield useful answers to such questions and allow us to appreciate more fully what the Protestant Reformation bequeathed to the world.

Speaker Bio: Carlos Eire was born in Havana in 1950 and fled to the United States without his parents at the age of eleven.   He is now the T. L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, where he has served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies and the Renaissance Studies Program.  He has taught at St. John’s University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia, has been a Fulbright scholar in Spain, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a member of the Lilly Foundation’s Seminar in Lived Theology.  He is the co-author of Jews, Christians, Muslims: An Introduction to Monotheistic Religions (1996),  and the author of several scholarly books, including  War Against the Idols (1986), From Madrid to Purgatory (1995), A Very Brief History of Eternity (2009), and Reformations: The Early Modern World (2016), which won the Hawkins Award from the Association of American Publishers.   A past president of the American Society for Reformation Research, he is best known outside scholarly circles as the author of the memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana (2003), which won the nonfiction National Book Award, and his second memoir, Learning to Die in Miami (2010).  All of his books are banned in Cuba, where he has been proclaimed an enemy of the state – a distinction he regards as the highest of all honors.

Associated Readings: The following reading has been provided by the guest lecturer to provide supplementary information about their talk:

  • “Redefining the Sacred and the Supernatural,” Protestantism after 500 Years, ed. Thomas A. Howard and Mark A. Noll (Oxford University Press, 2016) 
     
  • “The Good, the Bad, and the Airborne: Levitation and the History of the Impossible in Early Modern Europe,” Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany, ed. By Robin Barnes, et. al., (Ashgate, 2009).   
  •  “John Calvin, Accidental Anthropologist,” John Calvin and Catholicism, ed. by Randall Zachman (Baker Books, 2008).

Martin Luther and the Ambiguity of Reform

Deanna A. Thompson

Thursday, September 28, 2017
David Turpin Building, Room A120
5:00 pm - 6:20 pm

A video recording of this lecture is available here.

Lecture Synopsis: Luther did not set out to be a reformer, but his calls for changes in medieval religion got him kicked out of the church and helped unleash unrest throughout sixteenth century Europe. While Luther focused on religious reform, his defiant spirit inspired others to revolution, leading to battles that exacted great loss of life. Luther continued to face sanctions by church and state even as his reforms were critiqued for not going far enough. And venomous writings of his final years threaten to overshadow the significance of his Reformation accomplishments.

Five hundred years later Luther’s approach to reform continues to inspire wide-ranging contemporary reform movements, such as those addressing gender and racial injustice in the church and beyond. This year’s anniversary of the Reformation brings with it opportunities to reflect on the profound ambiguities of Luther’s legacy and the possibilities of embracing his legacy of bold and prophetic protests of abuse and injustice while condemning his legacy of demonizing his opponents.

Speaker Bio: Deanna Thompson is professor of Religion at Hamline University, where she also teaches classes in African American Studies, Women Studies, and Social Justice. She has been awarded Faculty of the Year by faculty and students alike, and has also received advising awards. A respected scholar in the study of Martin Luther and feminist theology, many of Thompson’s publications—including her book, Crossing the Divide: Luther, Feminism, and the Cross (Fortress, 2004)—focus on bringing Lutheran and feminist theology together in generative ways. Since the publication of her theo-memoir, Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace (Cascade, 2012), Thompson speaks and publishes widely on thinking theologically about living with cancer. Thompson was also one of 38 theologians chosen by Westminster John Knox Press to get back to doing what theologians used to do: write commentary on Scripture. Her theological commentary on Deuteronomy was released in 2014 and won Resource Book of the Year by the Academy of Parish Clergy. Her latest book, The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World (Abingdon, 2016) focuses on the digital revolution and its potential for helping us better care for one another in the worst times of our lives. Thompson received a 2016-7 sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute for her project: “Glimpsing Resurrection: A Post-Traumatic Theology of Cancer.” Thompson is active in the American Academy of Religion, where she served on the Board of Directors, as Director of the Upper Midwest Region, and as co-chair of the Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions Program Unit.

Associated Readings : The following readings have been provided by the guest lecturer to provide supplementary information about their talk:

  • “Calling a Thing What It Is: A Lutheran Approach to Whiteness,” Dialog: A Journal in Theology, (Spring 2014).
  • “Hoping for More: How Eschatology Matters for Lutheran Feminist Theologies,” in Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Voices, ed. Mary Streufert (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010).