Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

A lecture by Kelly Brown Douglas, professor and Director of the Religion Program at Goucher College

Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 6 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

Kelly Brown Douglas.On Thursday, April 21 from 6-7, Kelly Brown Douglas presented on the subject of her most recent book: Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

After Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of his killer, theologian Kelly Brown Douglas was plagued by the questions: “Why is it becoming increasingly acceptable to kill unarmed black children?”, “Why are they so easily percevied as a threat?” and “How are we to keep our black children safe?”

She writes, “As the mother of a black male child, I find these to be urgent questions. The slaying of Trayvon struck a nerve deep within me. After Jordan [Davis], then Jonathan [Ferrell], then Renisha [Marie McBride] I was practically unnerved. I knew that I had to seek answers. This book reflects my search for those answers.”

Dr. Douglas presented how she answered those questions and helped the Elon communitiy engage in dialogue about the crisis that continues to shape our public sphere.

This event was co-sponsored by Religious Studies; Truitt Center; African-African American Studies; Poverty and Social Justice; and the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society.

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Seeing Israel, A Real Life Nation Through a Theological Lens: A Reflection on Jewish and Christian Perspectives

A lecture by Rabbi Irving Greenberg, world renowned theologian

Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

World renowned theologian Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg spoke at Elon University’s Numen Lumen Pavilion on Thursday, April 7, at 7:30 pm.

Greenberg explored the tensions and risks in how the State of Israel is imagined by contemporary Jews and Christians, how the conflicts over Israel have led to controversy and distrust in Jewish-Christian dialogue, and how such dialogue might be improved.

Greenberg is a celebrated scholar, author, and rabbi with a PhD from Harvard University. He has served as Professor of History at Yeshiva University; founder, chairman, and professor in the department of Jewish Studies at the City University of New York; President of CLAL: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; President of the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation; and Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council Museum.

Greenberg’s many books include For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity.

His visit was sponsored by Jewish Studies at Elon; Religious Studies at Elon; the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society; Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences; the Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies Endowment; Wendy and Lee Pake; the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte; and the Greensboro Jewish Federation.

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Sharing the Burden: A Panel Discussion

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 5 p.m. in Belk Pavilion

Sharing the Burden.On March 8, 2016 the CSRCS held a panel discussion of a new book by Elon’s Dr. Geoffrey D. Claussen. Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar (SUNY Press 2015) analyzes the rich moral traditions of the 19th-century Musar movement and Simhah Zissel’s ideal of compassionately loving one’s fellow human beings. Panelists included:

  • Dr. Andrea Dara Cooper, Assistant Professor and Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters, Professor of Religious Studies, Elon University
  • Dr. Christian Miller, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Character Project, Wake Forest University
  • Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies, Elon University
  • Dr. Geoffrey D. Claussen, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies at Elon offered a response.

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The Hijabi Monologues

Friday, February 26, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in Whitley Auditorium

Stories and experiences by American Muslim women were offered in a space where Muslim women could speak openly about their experiences as women, as humans and as Americans. With drama and humor, the project brought to life the diversity of Muslim-American experiences, and engaged issues of race, gender and religious tolerance through stories that also challenged violence and hatred.

Hijabi Monologues have performed at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Europe, and they lead storytelling and identity workshops that empower others to tell their own stories. Click here for a video of the event.

Islamophobia: What Are We Really Afraid Of?

A lecture by Dr. Todd Green, Religious Studies scholar at Luther College

Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space

Dr. Todd Green. Religious Studies scholar Todd Green from Luther College presented this year’s H. Shelton Smith Lecture on the subject of “Islamophobia: What are we really afraid of?”

Green is the author of the book “Fear of Islam,” and his lecture will explore why the West fears Islam and why this matters, including discussion of the increase in bias incidents and hate crimes against Muslims in recent years.

The H. Shelton Smith Lecture Series honors a native of North Carolina and a 1917 graduate of Elon College. Smith was the founding director of graduate studies in religion at Duke University and founder of the North Carolina Council of Churches in 1935 and served as its first president. His vision of the Council was that it would be “an interdenominational agency to deal with problems of social justice, racial relations … or problems that confront the churches.” The Truitt Center is proud to honor Smith’s legacy by continuing the conversations he began on the issues of social justice, racial relations and the church’s role in society. Click here to view a video of this lecture.

Race, Religion and the Changing American Electorate

A lecture by Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Institute and columnist for The Atlantic

Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in Lakeside 213, Moseley Center

Robert P. Jones.Robert P. Jones is CEO of the polling organization Public Religion Research Institute, columnist for The Atlantic, and author of many books on religion in American life, including the forthcoming “The End of White Christian America.”

In addition to its regularly cited polling data on the intersection of religious identity with such issues as same-sex marriage, gun ownership, terrorism, and race, PRRI may be most widely known for its annual “American Values Survey,” a national, multi-issue survey on religion, values and public policy. The PRRI Research Team has conducted the AVS annually since 2010.

Jones was on hand to discuss two critical factors in this year’s presidential election: race and religion. In addition, he addressed the PRRI’s most recent polling data, released on Jan. 28 just ahead of the Iowa caucuses, which shows the declining influence of white, Christian voters in Iowa, a trend reflected even more starkly in nationwide surveys, according to Jones’ ongoing research.

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Interviews with Jones conducted by Elon Local News

The Pendulum story on Jones

‘Secrets’ in the Convent: Nuns and Medical Culture in Late Renaissance Italy

A lecture by Dr. Sharon Strocchia, professor of history at Emory University

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 at 4 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

Dr. Sharon Strocchia.Sharon Strocchia, a professor of history at Emory University, will presented her research on the networks of care forged by 16th-century Florentine women in their development of early medical practices. Her talk also touched on the restrictions that women faced as they pursued healthcare in the Renaissance.

Strocchia’s forthcoming book, “Cultures of Care: Women, Knowledge and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy,” investigates how “increased demand for healthcare services and a renewed emphasis on preventive health opened new opportunities for women’s involvement with Italian medical provisioning.” Strocchia observes that “as apothecaries, household experts, hospital nurses, and charitable caregivers working within increasingly coordinated networks of care, female practitioners not only delivered crucial services but also helped transform convents, conservatories and princely courts into important sites of health literacy and knowledge production.”

Strocchia is completing “Cultures of Care” this year as a fellow at North Carolina’s National Humanities Center. Her earlier book, “Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence,” won the 2010 Marraro Prize from the American Catholic Historical Association for the best book in Italian history.

The interdisciplinary nature of Strocchia’s recent work appealed to those interested in history, public health, Italian studies, religion, and gender studies alike.

This event was sponsored by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society and the Department of History and Geography.

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Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A lecture by highly acclaimed author Dr. Charles Marsh, Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the Isabella Cannon Room, Center for the Arts

Dr. Charles Marsh. Decades after German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung on the grounds of a concentration camp by Nazi soldiers for collaborating in a plot to kill Hitler, his writings have continued to captivate people from all corners of the world.

Marsh’s 2014 book, “Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” has been reviewed in several prestigious venues, including the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Many scholars have been drawn to Marsh’s work because of the unique insight and controversy his book provides into Bonhoeffer’s life and death in the Nazi regime and its impact on such ideas as religionless Christianity and the world come of age.

Marsh received his Bachelor of Arts from Gordon College, his Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from University of Virginia. Author of numerous books on topics as diverse as race relations in America, the Christian Right’s support of George W. Bush, and Bonhoeffer, he is co-author with John M. Perkins, civil rights activist and lifelong friend, of “Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community.” Marsh is the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellows in the Creative Arts and served in the spring of 2010 as the Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the American Academy of Berlin.

He is currently the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.

Marsh’s lecture at Elon provided further detail about Bonhoeffer’s life as he shared why Bonhoeffer continues to challenge us today as we struggle with how faith and politics intersect.

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Kosher/Soul: Black-Jewish Identity Cooking

A cooking demonstration and lecture by culinary historian, Michael Twitty

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the Greenworld Dining Area

Michael Twitty. Being African American and Jewish is for many a combination that many can’t wrap their heads around. However, for thousands of Jews of color; having heritage, faith and family in both Diasporas—African and Jewish—and their many intersections means creating material, social and ideational lives that interweave identities and histories. For Michael Twitty, this includes food and the ways Black and Jews have mediated otherness and oppression using what they eat as well as the global stories Diasporic foodways have to offer.

View a video of Twitty’s demonstration

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Marriage is Half of Your Religion: Exploring Matrimonial Practices in American Muslim Communities

A lecture by Dr. Juliane Hammer, associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel-Hill

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

Rugelach, Rummage Sales, Rabbis and Rosh Hodesh Groups: The Transformative Power of American Jewish Feminism

A lecture by Dr. Shuly Schwartz, the Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Walter and Sarah Schlesinger Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

Dr. Shuly Schwartz. Schwartz, the Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Walter and Sarah Schlesinger Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, will offer insight to students at Elon about the history of American Jewish feminism with her lecture, “Rugelach, Rummage Sales, Rabbis and Rosh Hodesh Groups: The Transformative Power of American Jewish Feminism.”

Schwartz has led several different initiatives at JTS to strengthen JTS’s tradition of social justice engagement. She has also spearheaded the creation of the first MA program of its kind in Jewish Ethics.

Schwartz has served on several advisory boards and councils including the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Women’s Archive. In 2006, Schwartz won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Modern Jewish Thought for her book The Rabbi’s Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life.

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Pope Francis’ U.S. Visit: What Did We Learn and What Can We Expect Next?

A lecture by award-winning Catholic affairs journalist, David Gibson

Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

David Gibson. On Monday, Oct. 5, award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker David Gibson visited Elon to speak about landmark events in the Catholic Church.

Gibson is a Catholic Affairs journalist for the Religion News Service and has contributed to several leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Boston magazine and Fortune. He has served on the Catholic News Service editorial staff and has been named the nation’s top religion reporter several times by the Religion Newswriters Association.

In addition to his numerous articles on religion, Gibson has also co-written documentaries on early Christian and Jewish history for CNN and worked on a 2011 History Channel special on the Vatican.

Gibson’s visit came between two important events in the Catholic Church – Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in late September and the Synod on the Family in Rome, Oct. 4-25.

Francis visited New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and met with many government officials, including President Barack Obama. He toured major U.S. landmarks in each of the three cities. Francis also became the first leader of the Catholic Church to address a joint session in Congress during his Apostolic Journey.

The Pope acknowledged the rapidly growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States and gave his Papal Mass in Washington in Spanish. Gibson’s lecture at Elon also fell during Hispanic Heritage Month. Gibson commented on the Pope’s relationship with and messages to the Hispanic community during his lecture.

Shortly after Gibson’s visit at Elon and the U.S. Papal Tour, bishops from all corners of the world converged in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on the Family. The group of bishops helped provide insight and counsel to Pope Francis on many pressing questions facing the Church, including those surrounding birth control, divorce and remarriage, abortion, and the place of gay Catholics in the church.

The assembly formed in Vatican City October 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops. The theme was “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.”

Professor Brian K. Pennington, director of Elon’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, said he is excited about this opportunity for Elon and its neighbors to get a balanced and informed assessment of Francis’s transformational papacy.
“David Gibson is one of the best religion journalists writing in the US today, period,” Pennington said. “His long and close association with Catholic leaders and Catholic issues has given him a perspective few possess.”

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Making Sense of Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom

A panel discussion about marriage equality, religious freedom and civil rights

Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion

Making Sense of Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom.Recent court decisions on marriage equality have sparked ongoing political debate about religious freedom, with some public officials refusing to recognize the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, and some state legislators considering ways to protect public officials who refuse to grant marriage licenses on religious grounds. Similarly, some business establishments have sought to use religious freedom as a grounds for denying services to same-sex couples.

To complicate matters, the United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination, appealed to religious freedom in their recent legal challenge to North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which made it unlawful for the state to recognize same-sex marriage unions and for clergy to perform such unions.

Is marriage equality a challenge to religious freedom? Is “traditional marriage” under threat? What are the legal obligations of public businesses to serve same-sex couples or of public officials to grant same-sex marriage licenses? And what civil rights issues remain for the LGBTQIA community?

This panel featured a discussion of these issues and more, as we tried to make sense of marriage equality and religious freedom, with the following panelists from our community:

  • Enrique Armijo (Associate Professor of Law)
  • Matthew Antonio Bosch (Director, Gender and LGBTQIA Center)
  • Lynn Huber (Associate Professor of Religious Studies)
  • Randy Orwig (Pastor, Elon Community Church)
  • Brian Pennington (Director, Center for the Study of Religion, Culture & Society)

Video of this event