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CRC Events

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.

We will also take questions posted by 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.

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Featured Past Events

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.