October 2, 2018: Distinguished Visitors Series
Professor Kathryn Lofton (Religion, Yale University) discusses “The Business of Being Quaker in America”
“The Business of Being Quaker in America” will observe the history of running businesses "the Quaker way" in the United States in order to decide whether or not there is such a way and -- if there is -- what good it does our economy. From the beginning of the Society of Friends, there was not simple division between religious and economic life; the business life of congregants was fair game for communal scrutiny in meeting houses, and religious practices were embedded in business strategies. Recent discussions about corporate culture have found business management consultants turning anew to religious traditions as potential source material for the cultivation of ethical workplaces. Using the history of Quaker industry, this talk will reflect on the utility of the Quaker way in economic life. (Lofton will give her talk on October 2, 2018 in the Chase Auditorium in Chase Hall. It will begin at 4:30.)
March 20, 2018: Distinguished Visitors Series
Tisa Wenger (Religious History, Yale Divinity School) discusses “African Americans, Quakers, and the Racial Limits of Religious Freedom”
The cultural power of religious freedom in the United States has encouraged its invocation by a dizzying array of people to defend every imaginable practice and tradition. Quakers have been among the most persistent and consistent advocates for this ideal, both for themselves and for others. Tisa Wenger will argue, however, that the dominant articulations of religious freedom in American life have more often than not supported white and Christian privilege. Her talk will explore the ironies of religious freedom in the early decades of the twentieth century, juxtaposing Quaker idealism with the limited utility of this freedom for African Americans as they struggled against the legalized segregation of Jim Crow.
November 7, 2017: Distinguished Visitors Series
John Lardas Modern (Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall College) discusses “Some Thoughts on George Fox, Religion, and its Cognitive Despisers”
Religion, in a secular age, has become something in need of measured explanation. For how else will religious ever be figured out or its persistence addressed? And in order to measure religion it must be located and pinned down. Whereas the effects of religion may be measured in ritual attendance and the spread of beliefs, the essence of religion is increasingly framed as an interior process, for better or for worse. Indeed, one of the key epistemic and institutional logics of the secular is the commitment to religion as a matter of privately held belief. An enthusiastic focus on what lies behind the eyes and within the skull has been integral to this particular making of religion. Modern’s talk excavates a deep history of one of of the central topics of the contemporary cognitive science of religion (CSR) -- that curious engine of belief that goes by the name of the “hyperactive agency detection device.” Cognitive scientists use this felicitous phrase to discuss the bundle of cognitive processes that prime humans to scan for a believe in supernatural agents.