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CRC Events

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.

Panelists

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.


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.


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.


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.

Panelists

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.


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Featured Past Events

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.

Panelists

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.