Skip to main content

CRC Events

The Shaker Legacy

The Shaker Legacy promotional image of woman sitting and surrounded by cameras.

The premier of a new documentary on the Shakers and a panel discussion
November 4, 2021 | 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Francesca Beale Theater | Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center | 144 West 65th Street New York, NY 10023

Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture invites you to the screening of our inaugural short documentary project, The Shaker Legacy, to be followed by a panel discussion with the participants and lead filmmaker.

This event highlights work on the Shakers by Fordham University faculty and the construction of a new Shaker Museum facility in upstate New York that will house the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives.

Kathryn Reklis, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University, writes on a range of topics, from modern Protestant theology to religion and pop culture. Her most recent book is Protestant Aesthetics and the Arts, co-edited with Sarah Covington.

Lacy Schutz is the executive director of the Shaker Museum, as well as the historic Shaker site in New Lebanon, NY. The museum's permanent new facility in Chatham, NY is slated for completion in 2023.

Courtney Bender, a professor of religion at Columbia University, specializes in contemporary American religion. She is completing a book on modernist visions of the future of religion that developed in twentieth-century architectural and planning projects.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, led the filmmaking project and will moderate the discussion.

Proof of vaccination and wearing a mask is required by the venue and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Password: FORDHAM (all caps)

Your generous support makes our programs and events possible. You can make a donation to the Center on Religion and Culture. Thank you.

Missed an event? Check our YouTube page!

Videos and transcripts from CRC's programs and events are now part of Fordham Libraries Digital Collections!

Featured Past Events

Things Get Broken

Things Get Broken

Leonard Bernstein's Mass at 50

A Jesuit Reflects on Leonard Bernstein's MASS at 50
September 23, 2021 | 6 - 7 p.m.

On September 8, 1971, the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS inaugurated the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in memory of her late husband, the work bore the weight of a decade of sorrows: the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, Jr.; racial unrest over civil rights; ongoing losses in the Vietnam War; the recent Kent State shootings, and much else.

In this lecture, Stephen Schloesser, SJ, will explore not only Bernstein’s masterpiece -- and its incorporation of Jewish and Catholic liturgical elements -- but also its resonance for our present moment as we emerge from a lethal pandemic only to face grave threats to our civic order. 

This event inaugurates the Ignatian Year at Fordham, a global observance by the Society of Jesus to commemorate the moment 500 years ago when a cannonball shattered the leg of Ignatius of Loyola. The wound put an end to his youthful dreams of personal glory but started Ignatius on a journey of conversion. 

Loss was not the last word for Loyola -- as it was not for Bernstein, who provides music of both lament and hope after a broken year.

Stephen Schloesser, S.J., Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, specializes in modern European intellectual and cultural life and writes extensively on music, religion, mysticism, Jesuits, and Catholic thought and culture.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the audience.

Power and the Cross

Power and the Cross

Duffy Fellows, The Rise of FREPAP In Peruvian Politics.

The Rise of FREPAP in Peruvian Politics
A Duffy Fellows Program Event
June 16, 2021 | 12 p.m. EST

The participation of FREPAP (Frente Popular Agricola del Peru or Agricultural People’s Front of Peru) in Peruvian national politics arose from the combination of American expansionism, the growth of evangelical Christianity, and the emergence of a strong Israelite movement in South America.

Questions and concerns have emerged about the cult-like organization and activities of FREPAP and other Peruvian evangelical groups. Although their mainstream impact is not significant, their presence, force, and participation in Latin American politics cannot be ignored.

Using a theological and sociological framework, Duffy Fellow Carlos Orbegoso Barrios will draw conclusions on the future of FREPAP and the impact of similar parties and movements in Latin America.

Carlos Orbegoso Barrios (FCRH 2021) recently graduated with a double-major in theology and economics and he is a 2020-2021 Duffy Fellow.

Fifth Cup

Fifth Cup

Duffy Fellows, Fifth Cup A Zoom Reading.

A Zoom Reading
A Duffy Fellows Program Event
June 9, 2021 | 7 p.m. EST

On Passover each year, four cups of wine are drunk throughout the Seder. A fifth is poured and left at an empty seat for Elijah, the prophet and herald of the messiah.

Fifth Cup is a play in progress which explores the empty spaces that exist in modern Jewish life. Somewhere, two people watch as the Weisz family sits down for a Passover dinner and seder. But the evening sputters to a halt as one question comes to the fore: who gets Elijah’s cup when the night is over?

Tune in for a reading from the first act and stick around after for a Q&A with the playwright, India Derewetzky.

India Derewetzky (FCLC 2020) graduated summa cum laude with a concentration in theatre performance and she is a 2020-2021 Duffy Fellow.

The Luminous Religion

The Luminous Religion

Duffy Fellows, How Was Christianity Translated Into Chinese.

How was Christianity Translated into Chinese?
A Duffy Fellows Program Event
June 8, 2021 | 12 p.m. EST

China is known for three major faith traditions: Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Did you know that there has also been a Christian presence in China since 635 AD? Alongside traded goods, Christianity traveled into East Asia through the Silk Road. Persian monks from what is now Iraq, Syria, and Iran gained the support of Emperor Taizong and began an extensive missionary effort centered in China’s ancient capital, Chang’an city.

Due to archaeological evidence, scholars know that this stable community of Christian believers prospered in China. Ancient texts discovered in the Dunhuang Caves and a massive stone artifice called the Xi’an Stele preserved the rich theological tradition of this Christian community. These archaeological finds also document the methods the Syriac-speaking Persian monks used to translate Christian concepts and ideas into Chinese language and culture.

In this presentation, Duffy Fellow Anastasia McGrath will examine the lexicological meaning behind the translation methods employed in these early Chinese Christian texts and inscriptions. This critical linguistic examination will bring to life the world of medieval China and this unique era of forgotten history.

Anastasia McGrath (FCRH 2021) recently graduated with a major in international political economy and a minor in Mandarin Chinese and she is a 2020-2021 Duffy Fellow.

The Church Innovative

The Church Innovative

Duffy Fellows, How Does the Church Foster Innovation.

How and Why the Catholic Church Fosters Change
A Duffy Fellows Program Event
June 2, 2021 | 12 p.m. EST

Co-sponsored by American Media

The Catholic Church is frequently depicted as an archaic, stuffy, and staid institution trapped by tradition and encased in the immutability dogma. But what if we looked at the Church as one of most dynamic institutions in human history? For two millennia, the Catholic Church has spawned new innovations and adapted to new societies. It continues to encompass and embrace diverse cultures and to seize developments in technology, education, finance, and communications to further its mission.

Join us for a conversation on how the Catholic Church continues to embrace this legacy of change and why -- now more than ever -- it must innovate to meet the needs and challenges of a global society.


Helen Alford, O.P., Vice Rector, Pontifical University of St. Thomas

Francis Davis, FRGS, Director of Policy, Edward Cadbury Centre, University of Birmingham

Kerry Alys Robinson, Founding Partner, Leadership Roundtable

Moderated by Nicholas D. Sawicki, Duffy Fellow, Center on Religion and Culture, Fordham University.

The Onscreen Eucharist

The Onscreen Eucharist

Duffy Fellows, The Onscreen Eucharist.

An Epistemic Theory of Sacramental Participation
A Duffy Fellows Program Event
May 26, 2021 | 12 p.m. EST

The COVID-19 restrictions dramatically altered the landscape of Christian sacramental practice. Churches across the world boldly experimented with virtual liturgies, the number of live- streamed adorations multiplied, and many priests took to the phone (sometimes against the recommendation of Rome) to offer confession to the sick. While the intersection of information technology and sacramentality is not an altogether new phenomenon, the questions surrounding the legitimacy of virtual sacraments are now unavoidable.

An epistemic theory of sacramental participation can provide a powerful explanation of the confusing theological landscape. According to this theory, one participates in the sacraments in proportion with two quantities: one’s ardent desire and one’s justified belief in the occurrence of the sacramental miracle. If it holds, this theory justifies the Church’s preference for in-person Mass while preserving the ontological validity of spiritual communion and also rebutting the iconoclastic criticism most commonly leveled against such virtualized sacraments.

Duffy Fellow Philip Andrew Wines will present and advance this theory. Drawing chiefly on the philosophy of perception alongside medieval and early modern discourses on miracles, he will dispute existing criticism of virtual sacraments and will field questions from the audience.

Philip Andrew Wines (FCRH 2022) is a student of philosophy, theology, medieval history, and Spanish language and he is a 2020-2021 Duffy Fellow.

Earth, Spirit, and Race

Earth, Spirit, and Race

Farmers from Soul Fire Farm attending to crops

Confronting America's legacy of food injustice and discrimination
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
April 21, 2021 | 12 - 1 p.m. EST

Part of an ongoing series on "Race and Faith"
In collaboration with Fordham’s Office of Campus Ministry

Chattel slavery, institutional racism, and government policies alienated enslaved people and their descendants from the land. This continues to result in food insecurity, poor health, and property loss. Today, less than two-percent of working farms are owned by Black Americans.

Activists, gardeners, authors, and farmers are re-discovering Black America’s rich agricultural heritage and its roots in spirituality and religious traditions. They are advocating for a new and empowering relationship with food production and the natural world.

One of the leading voices of this new movement is Soul Fire Farm. Located in upstate New York, Soul Fire Farm is “an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system.”

To mark Earth Day, Soul Fire Farm’s co-director will join us from the farm for a panel discussion to explore these issues and how the audience themselves might work toward a more equitable food system.


Leah Penniman is the co-director and farm manager of Soul Fire Farm. She is the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land and a 2019 recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.

Rufus Burnett, Jr. is an assistant professor of theology at Fordham University and he has written about the blues, decolonial theology, and the Black American experience. He is the author of Decolonizing Revelation: A Spatial Reading of the Blues.

David Goodwin, assistant director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

"Calling Out" vs. "Calling In"

"Calling Out" vs. "Calling In"

Calling Out vs Calling In Event Image with Pencil Coloring on Image of a Person.

Loretta Ross offers a different response to campus "cancel culture"
A Fordham Webinar
April 7, 2021 | 4 - 5:15 p.m. EST

This online workshop is a collaboration between Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and the Center on Religion and Culture.

College campuses are a central arena in the battle over “cancel culture,” with a frequent weapon being the practice of “calling out” those who are judged to have said or done something wrong. The result is often conflict and misunderstanding rather than dialogue and mutual comprehension.

Loretta Ross, a visiting professor at Smith College, has become known for her courses that promote “calling in” students rather than “calling out.”

As Professor Ross, a self-described “Black radical feminist,” told The New York Times, “I think you can understand how calling out is toxic. It really does alienate people, and makes them fearful of speaking up.”

A signer of last year’s famous letter in Harper’s Magazine against cancel culture, Professor Ross will speak to the Fordham community in a virtual workshop providing students and others a chance to engage with her via Zoom.

The talk and workshop will be moderated by Julie Gafney, executive director of Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning.

Cancel Culture: Safety or Censorship?

Cancel Culture: Safety or Censorship?

Cancel Culture Safety or Censorship Title Image.

Freedom of speech, higher education, and the fate of America's public square
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
March 11, 2021 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EST

In collaboration with Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning

Cancel culture. De-platforming. Calling out. These are increasingly common terms for what may be a defining battle for our contentious society: the fight over who can say what and when.

Yet what do these terms really mean? Are there limits to free expression? Or are we on the slippery slope to some Orwellian dystopia? This is no abstract argument. The future of university education, political discourse, and civil society -- not to mention individual careers and personal relationships -- will be defined by what we can say, how we say it, and what effect our words, or our silences, have on each other.

This panel discussion will explore the state of the issue and what’s at stake.


Laura Specker Sullivan is an assistant professor of philosophy at Fordham and a bioethicist specializing in culture and neuroethics.

Jon Baskin is a founding editor at The Point magazine and the Associate Director of the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism master's program at The New School for Social Research.

Mary McNamara is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and culture critic at the Los Angeles Times. She wrote a column last year titled, “‘Cancel culture’ is not the problem. The Harper’s letter is.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

Black Churches, Black Catholics

Black Churches, Black Catholics

CRC Black Churches, Black Catholics Event Image with Date and Time.

Exploring a groundbreaking new survey from Pew Research
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
February 25, 2021 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Part of an ongoing series on "Race & Faith"
In collaboration with Fordham's Office of Campus Ministry

Black Christians have played an outsized role in the nation’s religious as well as political and social life despite America’s brutal legacy of systemic racism. That role has been sharpened by the response of the Black churches to America’s recent upheavals and elections.

The Pew Research Center recently released the largest ever survey of Black believers in the United States, Faith Among Black Americans. Its findings provide critical insights into the present and future dynamics of the Black churches -- as well as surprising facts about Black Catholics in particular.

This webinar will feature an overview of the data by Pew’s lead researcher on the study, plus a discussion with leading experts on Black Catholicism. We will also field questions from our online audience.


Besheer Mohamed, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at Pew Research Center and one of the principal authors of the new report.

Kiana Cox, Ph.D., is a research associate at Pew Research Center and a principal author of the new report.

Tia Noelle Pratt, Ph.D., is a sociologist of religion specializing in the ways systemic racism affects Black Catholic identity. She received her doctorate in sociology from Fordham University in 2010. She is the president of TNPratt & Associates, an inclusion and diversity consulting firm in Philadelphia, and she is the curator of the #BlackCatholicsSyllabus. She is currently working on a book, Faithful and Devoted: Racism and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience.

Bryan Massingale, S.T.D., is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, a professor of theological and social ethics, and the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham University. His most recent book is Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. His current writing projects explore the contributions of Black radicalism to Catholic theology and the intersections of race, sexuality, and faith.

David Gibson, director of Fordham's Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

Pro-Life. Pro-Choice. Post-Roe?

Pro-Life. Pro-Choice. Post-Roe?

Pro-life, Pro-choice, Post Roe?

New prospects for the abortion debate in America
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
January 27, 2021 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Views on abortion rights in the United States have remained almost unchanged over the years while the politics of abortion have grown more polarized and partisan. Is there a way forward? Will events force a change in the debate? While the Supreme Court’s conservative composition could overturn Roe v. Wade, the incoming President, a Catholic, is vowing to protect abortion rights.

This webinar brings together experts and faith-based voices who provide new perspectives on the legal, political, and social dynamics of today’s increasingly intense argument over abortion rights and the chances of a fundamental change in that debate.


Tricia Bruce is a sociologist of religion and an affiliate of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society. Last summer she published a study, “How Americans Understand Abortion”, the largest in-depth interview study of American attitudes on abortion.

Mary Ziegler, a professor of law at Florida State University, is one of the foremost authorities on the legal history of the American abortion debate. Her most recent book, Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present (2020), traces the legal history of the abortion debate from the recognition of a right to choose to “the likely undoing of Roe today.”

Gloria Purvis is a Catholic radio host and popular media commentator. She served on the National Black Catholic Congress’s Leadership Commission on Social Justice and describes herself as “dedicated to promoting the sanctity of human life, marriage, and the dignity of the human person.”

Katelyn Beaty is a former managing editor of Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical magazine, and an author and journalist who has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. She is an acquisitions editor for Brazos Press and is writing a book about celebrity in the church.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

Trump, Biden, and the Future of Christian Nationalism

Trump, Biden, and the Future of Christian Nationalism

What the presidential election means for rightwing religious populism
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
November 5, 2020 | 12 - 1 p.m. EST

The second of a two-part series in collaboration with Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center

Donald Trump's presidency coincided with the emergence of a fiery American nationalism fed by a strain of conservative Christianity and a sense of white racial and cultural superiority. This toxic combination is growing in many parts of the globe.

In the United States, the outcome of the presidential contest between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will have a critical impact on whether white Christian nationalism dissipates or grows as a political force and a domestic threat.

This panel of experts convenes two days after the election to explain the sources of Christian nationalism in America and internationally, to analyze the impact of the election’s outcome on this phenomenon, and to discuss ways to combat this scourge.


Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., is chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University and president of the American Academy of Religion. He is a well-known commentator on religion and politics and his most recent book is Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.

Robert P. Jones is the CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), and is a leading commentator on religion, culture, and politics. He is the author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity and The End of White Christian America, which won the 2019 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Kristina Stoeckl is a professor of sociology at the University of Innsbruck. She is currently principal investigator of the research project Postsecular Conflicts. This effort examines connections between the Russian Orthodox Church and global networks of the Christian Right.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

The Shaker Moment

The Shaker Moment on October 22, 2020 at 12 p.m., Why does an 18th-century utopian sect appeal to our modern age?

Why an 18th-century utopian sect appeals to our modern age
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
October 22, 2020 | 12 - 1 p.m. ET

For most people, the Shakers are more of a brand than a faith. If most people know anything about them, it is their simple lifestyle and carefully-crafted furniture. Shaker-inspired chairs and cabinets appear in home design magazines, and 19th-century Shaker furniture can be found in art museums and in private collections.

Yet the Shakers were much more than their furniture, and their legacy informs our modern longings far more than we may realize.

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, as the Shakers called themselves, was one of the most successful and long-lived utopian societies in America. They believed in radical gender and racial equality long before those movements gained popular appeal and their spiritual practices included ecstatic dance and spirit drawings alongside quiet reflection and somber prayer. As one of the last living Shakers quipped a few years ago: “I don’t want to be remembered as a chair.”

How should we remember the Shakers? What does their religious and communal vision have to offer the world today? For the past two years, a group of religion scholars and art historians, practicing artists, and museum professionals considered the legacy of the Shakers in our present day. The project was generously funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to the Fordham Theology Department and was co-directed by Kathryn Reklis and Lacy Schutz. This webinar convenes some of the “Shaker Fellows” from this project to talk about what they learned and how the Shaker witness can inspire our own moment.

Kathryn Reklis, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University, writes on a range of topics, from modern Protestant theology to religion and pop culture. Her most recent book is Protestant Aesthetics and the Arts, co-edited with Sarah Covington.

Lacy Schutz is executive director of the Shaker Museum, which stewards the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives, as well as the historic Shaker site in New Lebanon, NY. The museum's permanent new facility, in Chatham, NY, is slated for completion in 2023.

Courtney Bender, a professor of religion at Columbia University, specializes in contemporary American religion. She is completing a book on modernist visions of the future of religion that developed in twentieth-century architectural and planning projects.

Maggie Taft is an art historian specializing in modern design and she is curator of the Shaker Museum exhibit that was installed in downtown Chatham, New York.

Ashon T. Crawley, a professor of religious studies and African-American studies at the University of Virginia and author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility. He is also a practicing artist whose work is available online. View Ashon's art.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will open and close the event and he will assist in fielding questions from our online audience.

Immigration and Identity, Borders and Bridges

Francisco Cantu

Francisco Cantú on his memoir about working for the Border Patrol
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
October 9, 2020 | 1 - 2:15 p.m.

Francisco Cantú is a Mexican-American raised in the scrublands of the Southwest and went on to join the U.S. Border Patrol in 2008. He spent the next four years hauling in the bodies of dead immigrants and delivering to detention those he found alive. Cantú left the Border Patrol in 2012 and began a journey of his own, culminating in his highly-acclaimed 2018 memoir, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border.

Disputes over immigration have only intensified as the presidential campaign heats up, and issues of racism and national identity are playing out around the country. More than ever, the personal is political, and Cantú’s memoir is a powerful testimony to understanding this national moment.

The Line Becomes a River book cover

In this event, Francisco Cantú will discuss his own story, his process of writing a memoir, and his take on the ongoing immigration debate.

Glenn Hendler, a professor of English and American Studies at Fordham, will moderate the conversation, and Cantú will take questions from the students in a class Hendler is co-teaching with Fordham's Writer at Risk in Residence, Félix Kaputu, titled “Creating Dangerously: Writing from Conflict Zones.” Other Fordham students and our online audience will also be able to pose questions in the chat room.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will open and close the event and he will assist in fielding questions from our online audience.

Solidarity, Catholicism, and Our Post-Pandemic Future

St Francis Giving his Mantle to a Poor Man - Giotto di Bondone

Pope Francis’s new call for a radical re-ordering of society’s priorities
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
In collaboration with Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET

The Vatican is releasing Pope Francis’s latest encyclical on October 4, 2020, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, and his encyclical is expected to call for a radical commitment to genuine solidarity and economic and social justice.

While grounded in Catholic social teaching, the encyclical will be addressed to “the whole of humanity” and will take as its starting point the inequalities and injustices revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The encyclical will also land just weeks before a historic U.S. presidential election that features a Catholic candidate, Joe Biden, squaring off against the incumbent, Donald Trump.

The issues raised by the encyclical are at the heart of the campaign and they are central to the intense debate over America’s core values and identity. The contrast could not be starker. The stakes could not be higher.

In this hour-long webinar, three experts on Catholic social teaching and the Vatican will analyze the new encyclical -- the most authoritative document a pope can issue -- in the context of the Church’s new course under Francis, the polarized dynamics of American politics, and American Catholicism.


MT Dávila is an associate professor of practice at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, and a leading expert in Christian ethics. Her work focuses on immigration, racism and racial justice, and class and inequality. She is a past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS).

Christopher Lamb is the Rome correspondent for The Tablet of London and author of the 2020 book, The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church. His book explores the ministry of Francis and investigates the opposition that has mobilized against Francis and what it portends for the Catholic Church.

The Rev. Thomas Massaro, SJ, is a professor of moral theology at Fordham who writes widely on Catholic social teaching. He is the author of Mercy in Action: The Social Teachings of Pope Francis

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, and take questions from the online audience.

Ants Among Elephants

Sujatha Gidla

Author Sujatha Gidla on growing up as an untouchable in India, and life as a New York City subway conductor during the pandemic
A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
September 17, 2020 | 4 - 5 p.m. EST

Sujatha Gidla’s debut memoir, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, was hailed on publication in 2017 as an outstanding account of the brutal caste system in India and that nation’s history over a century.

As Pankaj Mishra wrote in The New York Review of Books, Gidla’s story of growing up in a Christian and Dalit family “is a book that combines many different genres―memoir, history, ethnography, and literature―and is outstanding in the intensity and scale of its revelations.”

Ants Among Elephants Book Cover - Sujatha Gidla

Sujatha Gidla joins us for this webinar conversation to discuss a range of issues, including the caste system in India and how it compares to the treatment of Blacks in the United States.

She will also talk about her writing process, how the West views her as a female immigrant author, her work as a New York City subway conductor, and falling prey to the Coronavirus -- an experience she wrote about in a powerful New York Times op-ed.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion and take questions from the online audience.

Lebanon’s Tragedy, Lebanon’s Hopes

Beruit Port

An Update on Beirut from Cardinal Rai

A Fordham Center on Religion and Culture Webinar
September 10, 2020 | 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

A partnership with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Salt + Light Media.

The enormous explosion that rocked Beirut on August 4, 2020, killed some 200 people, injured thousands, and left at least 300,000 homeless. The blast, from a huge and unstable stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored at the Lebanese port, was a devastating blow for a country already teetering from a financial collapse and social unrest.

Lebanon’s viability is critical to the Middle East, a region fraught with geopolitical tensions. It is a region that can also provide a sign of hope. Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East, with a large Christian community, and Shia and Sunni Muslims making up just over half of the population.

In this webinar, we will speak live with the Maronite Catholic Patriarch in Lebanon.

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Rai will talk about the situation in the country a month after the explosion, what can be done to help now, and what Lebanon needs to do to secure its future -- and the future of the Middle East.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, will open the conversation.

Thomas L. Gallagher, Religion Media Company, will lead a question-and-answer session with Cardinal Rai, and David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate.

Hagia Sophia: Caught Between East and West

Hagia Sophia

A Fordham Webinar
July 23, 2020 | 12 p.m.

Early this month, the Turkish government announced the re-conversion of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque. Built as a Christian cathedral by the Emperor Justinian I in 532, the Hagia Sophia stood as the heart of the Byzantine and Orthodox Christian worlds until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. After nearly five centuries as a mosque, Hagia Sophia became a museum in 1934. UNESCO designated it a World Heritage site in no small part due to its awe-inspiring mosaics and architecture.

The Hagia Sophia will re-open as a mosque on Friday, July 24, the day after this discussion. The re-opening will mark another turning point in its long history -- but also a flashpoint in today’s tense geopolitical environment.

UNESCO’s Director General Audrey Azoulay described the Hagia Sophia as "an architectural masterpiece, and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue."

What is the cultural significance of the Hagia Sophia? Why does this space hold such value to different faith traditions? Why might this news story be getting so little public attention? Our panelists will address these questions among others during a lunchtime conversation.


Dr. George Demacopoulos, Fr. John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies and co-director of Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University.

Dr. Alice Isabella Sullivan, Information Resource Technical Specialist, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, and co-founder of North of Byzantium.

David Goodwin, Assistant Director, Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion.

In collaboration with the Fordham University Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

Pope Francis: Reform and Resistance

Panelists talking at the Pope Francis: Reform and Resistance event

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh and the Fate of the Papacy

November 4, 2019

As Francis’s remarkable pontificate approaches its seventh anniversary, the pope is facing an increasingly virulent and vocal opposition -- much of it based in the United States or funded by American Catholics. How serious is this opposition? Is it damaging the Church? The papacy? Or is it only directed at Francis and will recede when he leaves the scene?

These questions will be at the heart of a discussion with Austen Ivereigh, who will be at Fordham for the United States launch of his new biography, Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church.

Does Faith Have a Future?

A Symposium on God, Religion, and the ‘Nones’

October 15, 2019

“None of the above” is the fastest-growing religious identifier in the United States, a category boosted by a surge of younger people. This generational shift is the greatest challenge facing religious communities, and one with enormous implications for American society: the “Nones” have fewer social connections and less social capital than their parents and grandparents.

What does this disaffiliation mean for the future of the U.S.? What does it mean for the future of faith? Who are the “Nones” anyway? Are they atheists? Agnostics? Just indifferent? “The ‘Meh’ Generation”? Or does their attitude point toward a new path for traditional religious communities?

Participants included:

Cracks in the Secular

James K. A. Smith and the Augustinian Call

October 2, 2019

Our modern world has a particular vision of what the “pursuit of happiness” means. Independence. Self-sufficiency. Conforming the world to our desires.

James K. A. Smith — philosopher, popular lecturer, and prolific author -- understands the attraction of such secular happiness, especially for young people. But he also detects what he calls “cracks in the secular,” signs that can illuminate a different path to happiness.

Smith shared insights from his new book on spiritual seeking, On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts.