First Annual Peter Berger Lecture and Celebration

Peter Berger Lecture and Celebration

Friday, November 11, 2011

The First Annual Peter Berger Lecture in Religion and World Affairs

Sponsored by the School of Theology and The Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA), Boston University


David Martin, Professor Emeritus in the Sociology of Religion, London School of Economics

David Martin served as president of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion and is an ordained priest in the Church of England. Martin has written extensively on the sociology of religion and secularization, most notably in A General Theory of Secularization (1978), and on the intersection of sociology and theology, with his essays on this topic collected in Reflections on Sociology and Theology (1996). He has examined the expansion of Pentecostal Protestantism in the developing world in his widely cited Tongues of Fire: Conservative Protestantism in Latin America (1990) and Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish (2002), and he has written on religion and violence in Does Christianity Cause War? (1998) and most recently in The Future of Christianity: Reflections on Violence and Democracy, Religion and Secularization (2011).


On June 30, 2009, Dr. Peter L. Berger retired from the directorship of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, which he had founded in 1985. Peter remains an employee of Boston University on the staff of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, and also regularly participates in the broader life of the Boston University community, not least the School of Theology.

With the joint sponsorship of the School of Theology and CURA, we are proposing to hold the “First Annual Peter Berger Lecture in Religion and World Affairs” on November 11, 2011. The purpose of the event is not to praise Peter as he prepares for retirement – Peter is a still very active citizen in CURA and the University, and we are not in the least interested in rushing him into retirement. The November 11 event will instead serve as the first of a proposed annual lectureship entitled, “The Peter Berger Lecture in Religion and World Affairs.” Dr. David Martin – professor emeritus of sociology the London School of Economics, a widely published theologian, and a long time colleague at CURA and a friend of Peter’s since the 1970s – has kindly agreed to present the first lecture.

The purpose of the named lectureship will be to sponsor a state-of-the-field lecture by a distinguished scholar in some aspect of the fields in which Peter Berger has left a lasting legacy: theology, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies. We feel that it is appropriate that the topics of the lecture remain open. Religious studies in its true interdisciplinary sense is an evolving and wonderfully dynamic enterprise. Nonetheless, we also feel that the topics of the lectures should in some way reflect scholarship in the tradition of “Berger at Boston University.” The lectures might touch, then, on topics as varied as modern secularity and global religious revival; the social constructions of religion in modern times; global Christianity; Christian theology in an age of relativist challenge; the multiplicity of religious modernities; religion and globalization. Again, we emphasize that this list is intended to be illustrative not restrictive. The lecturer and topic for each year’s lecture will be chosen by the CURA director, the Chair of the Department of Sociology, and two faculty appointed by the Dean of the School of Theology. The selection committee will also consult with the Chairs of the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Religion before extending an invitation to each year’s lecturer.

The first annual Peter Berger Lecture will be of special importance because Berger himself will be in attendance. Equally important, in addition to launching the lectureship, we will use the event to celebrate Peter Berger’s contribution to the study of religion and world affairs at Boston University.

Schedule of Events (subject to change)

4:00 pm: Welcome

Brief welcoming comments by Dana Robert and Bob Hefner, explaining the dual purpose of the evening’s event: a celebration of Peter Berger’s contribution to Boston University, and the launching of the first annual Peter Berger Lecture.

4:10 to 4:20: Boston University Administrators’ Welcome

With tributes by:

* Vice President Andrei Ruckenstein, Vice President of Research

* Dean Elizabeth Moore, School of Theology

* Dean Virginia Sapiro, College of Arts and Sciences

4:20-5:45: Lecture: Dr. David Martin, London School of Economics

5:45-6:30: Reception

Location: To be Declared.  For up-to-date information, visit the CURA Lecture website.

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