Join us at Harvard Book Store on Friday, April 15th at 3:00pm, when Professor of Religion at Boston University and CEDAR director Adam B. Seligman and Director of Training and Evaluation for CEDAR Rahel R. Wasserfall discuss their book Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World, co-authored with David Montgomery. Learn more here. A book signing will follow the discussion.
Can’t make it to the event?Order a signed book for in-store pickup or shipment throughout the United States.
Find details below, and explore more upcoming Harvard Book Store events at harvard.com/events.
I just returned from London, where I participated in a seminar convened by Lord Stone of Blackheath on a two-year old grassroots peace initiative for Israel and Palestine called Two States, One Homeland (TSOH). You can find a longer report on this meeting HERE. In addition to the two founders of this initiative, Tel Aviv-based Israeli journalist Meron Rappoport and Bethlehem-based Palestinian activist Awni al-Mashni who joined via Skype, there were about forty people in the Archbishop’s room at Millbank House, which houses offices and meeting spaces serving the UK House of Lords. Participants included potential funders, facilitators, foundation directors, and specialists in a variety of aspects that the convener thought would be useful and ought to be drawn on in helping the initiative to move forward more robustly. I joined this session because I had met Meron, Awni and Avner Haramati, a social entrepreneur who facilitated the London meeting, before. (I wrote about this meeting HERE.) Read more…….
Holy Beds and Holy Families: Encounters with Devotional Objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Boston University Department of Religion Annual Lecture and the Program in Scripture and the Arts are proud to present Caroline Walker Bynum, from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. Professor Bynum is a preeminent scholar in the field of Medieval Christian Studies, and her work has been instrumental in introducing the concept of gender into the study of medieval Christianity. In her lecture, on March 24, 2016 at 5:30 PM, she will present material thematically linked to her most recent publication, Christian Materiality. At an exhibit in Detroit fifty-five years ago, a much loved beguine cradle on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum was treated simply as a piece of furniture. But at the Met, the cradle, which once held a Christ child laid in it by the religious women in whose community it stood, points the viewer toward other works related to the holy family, all on display nearby but not usually considered together. Interpreting these devotional objects in their social and devotional context, Professor Bynum will argue that medieval images—both literary and material—evoked, even compelled, a far more complex, nuanced, and even contradictory sense of the holy than much recent work on materiality suggests.
Stephen Prothero is a professor in the Boston University Department of Religion, and he is the New York Times Bestselling author of Religious Literacy: What Americans Need to Know (2007). He has contributed to publications such as USA Today, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. His newest book, Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (January 2016), Dr. Prothero concludes that not only do liberals always win in heated culture wars within the context of social history, but today’s disputes between differing cultural and political parties are not unprecedented. Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars is a work outlining the social history of the United States and describes how competing religious beliefs have always impacted our political, economic, and sociological discourse. Please join us for a book signing and discussion.
7:00pm on Tuesday, February 9th 2016
Barnes & Noble at Boston University, 660 Beacon St. (5th Floor – The Reading Room)
On February 3, President Obama spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore to recognize the contributions of Muslim Americans to their country, to speak out for religious liberty, and to condemn hateful rhetoric against Muslims.
He also made a passing reference to Prof. Stephen Prothero’s recent work on the culture wars. In a classic Obama aside, the president said, “By the way, Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim–so I am not the first.” After some laughter he went on, “No, it’s true, it’s true. Look it up. I’m in good company.”
The president and his speechwriters almost certainly got this factoid from an op-ed Prothero wrote for the Washington Post a few days before the speech.
“Claims that President Obama is a closet Muslim are not novel, either,” Prothero wrote in the Post. “In the nasty election of 1800, now being staged in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” Thomas Jefferson’s Federalist opponents accused him of believing in “the alcoran.”
In a CNN op-ed published the day before the speech, Prothero again referred to this incident: “During the rough-and-tumble election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson was accused of being a secret Muslim. ‘No one knows,’ wrote the Connecticut Courant, ‘whether Mr. Jefferson believes in the heathen mythology or in the alcoran (Quran).”
The president also referred to other themes in Prothero’s new book, Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections), including the fraught history of anti-Mormonism and anti-Catholicism here.
The right goes wrong in ‘Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars’
By David M. Shribman Globe Correspondent
The culture wars have always been with us.
Stephen Prothero reminds us of this in his important new book, “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars,’’ which is less a partisan victory cry than a potent injection of perspective. Read it before the Iowa caucuses, lest they prove disconcertingly maddening.
In this volume, Prothero, whose “Religious Literacy’’ helped fill in the blanks that produce the blank stares when the dinner-table talk turns to religion, tackles that other forbidden topic of conversation — politics — with imagination and verve. The Boston University professor examines specific culture battles beginning with the days of the founding fathers to the present. And he has a revelation for you: Conservatives, struggling to hold onto the status quo, are the ones who generally initiate culture wars, and they invariably lose. Read more…..
The American Academy of Religion is deeply troubled by the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States and around the world. Hate speech and intemperate political discourse aimed at Muslims and other religious groups are opposed to the values of our learned society and to the most cherished commitments of American civic culture. We call on our members, other scholars of religion, and all Americans, to reject that divisive and dangerous speech and to reaffirm our shared commitment to a free and open society where all residents’ rights are recognized and protected.
The AAR is the world’s largest scholarly society devoted to the critical study of religion. This week’s sudden increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobia is taking place during the AAR’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.
Three prominent academics on Monday urged students at Boston University to combat anti-Islam bigotry, hours after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump grabbed headlines with a controversial plan to bar all Muslims from entering the United States.
“Speak out against discrimination, speak out against Islamophobia,” said Pamela Lightsey, an associate dean and clinical assistant professor in the BU School of Theology, during the forum on Monday night.
She told more than 100 students who attended the event at the George Sherman Union that much of the anti-Islam rhetoric coming out of the presidential campaign is reminiscent of the anti-black bigotry that prevailed in American politics after desegregation. Read more…….
Faculty books examine changing depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and equality in teaching
By Michelle Samuels
IN LATE SPRING 2015, armed anti-Muslim demonstrators drew cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad outside a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. Kecia Ali followed the incident, which made headlines worldwide, with keen interest. “Clearly, Muhammad remains a flashpoint in the current American climate,” says Ali, an associate professor of religion and author of The Lives of Muhammad(Harvard University Press, 2014). The book is a biography of biographies, showing how depictions of the Prophet by believers and non-believers alike have evolved over 14 centuries. read more………