2 p.m. EDT Monday–Friday, Hall of Philosophy
The Interfaith Lecture Series is designed to present issues that impact the lived experience of everyday life from theological, religious, spiritual, ethical, and humanitarian perspectives.
Week One • June 22–29
Race and the American Religious Experience
Race remains a primary dividing line in American society. Religious practice can serve to reinforce those divisions, or to break them down and unite people around shared commitments. How does race intersect with American religious experience across traditions individually and at both the communal and the institutional level? What can we learn about religion through a lens focused on racial inequity, and what can we learn about the construction of race from an examination of religious history and sociology? What insights can religion offer for racial reconciliation and social transformation?
Week Two • June 29–July 6
Religion’s Intersections: Interdisciplinary Imagination with Science, Technology, and AI
Like all human enterprises, religious traditions are influenced by their intersection with other disciplines; in our 21st-century context, this includes significant impact from science and technology, including the arrival of mainstream applications for artificial intelligence. How does religion respond? What might this new form of machine learning mean for our understanding of ourselves, our universe, and the divine? Speakers from disciplines as distinct as engineering, ethics, and psychology will weigh in on the implications and potential of emerging technologies.
Week Three • July 6–13
Ethics and Meaning-Making Beyond Faith
Religion is only one framework for ethical meaning-making, and often other paradigms are more prominent, accessible or influential. As the number of religious “nones” continues to grow, how will secular ethics nurture meaning-making in our collective lives? Where do people turn to address ethical challenges when faith is not a vital category in their lives? This week’s theme will explore the secular dimensions of ethics and human values and will feature non-religious and post-religious perspectives.
Week Four • July 13–20
World Religion and a Shifting Population
While we consider the implications of our growing global population for climate, human rights and civil society, it is instructive to consider the changes in the religious landscape that result from a shifting population. While in the West, religiosity is on the decline by most measures, across the globe we see vibrant and growing religious movements. Together we will learn about the largest and newest expressions of world religion, examine the implications of extremism, and see some of the creative expressions of spirituality that are emerging in light of globalization, interconnection, and social change.
Week Five • July 20–27
Spiritual Grounding for Social Change
Religious faith has energized movements for social change and human thriving across time. We will unpack the historic connection between faith and social action and consider the future of faith-based movements for social change. Spiritual nourishment for the work of care, advocacy, and justice is relevant not only to those who already understand their own work in religious terms, but also for anyone who might be hungry for a way to sustain the hard work of activism across a lifetime. We will hear from a diverse group of scholars, practitioners and leaders reflecting on the many ways that spirituality and religious practice can strengthen and support change agents in our complex world.
Week Six • July 27–Aug. 3
The Arts: Expressions from the Soul
From the beginning of recorded history, human beings have expressed their spiritual impulses, myths, and worldview through the arts. Whether in visual representation, poetry, music or dance, the soul is central to art, if not in its creation, then in its reception and interpretation. What is it about art that moves the human heart, and how can we understand the interplay of creativity and devotion? Hear from artists, historians, and faith leaders about the connection between the arts and spirituality, and explore the ways art has mediated spiritual expression along your own path.
Week Seven • Aug. 3–10
Wonder and Awe – Reverence as a Response to the World
The profound experiences of our lives share a common thread. From the birth of a baby to the last breath of a parent, the wonderful and awe-inspiring events of our lives serve as markers on our spiritual journeys, from suffering to exhilaration. We experience wonder over the vast complexity of creation and stand in awe of the terrible power of nature and human cruelty. Faith is often forged through the deep and curious questions of childlike wonder, and tested by the struggle to understand what we experience and observe — that which leaves us in awe.
Week Eight • Aug. 10–17
Water: A Metaphor for Life
Water is essential to all life, sustaining and necessary for any growth, movement, or thriving. We are nurtured in the water of the womb, and we rely on water every day of our lives to survive. It is no surprise that this results in a powerful association with the holy — water conveys purity, mediates transitions, and serves to remind us of the movement of spirit through our lives. From the Ganges to the Jordan, flowing water plays an important part in many religious traditions, and rituals of purification and offering involving water are part of many practices. How do we understand this essential element, in practice and as a primary metaphor for life?
Week Nine • Aug. 17–25
All Rise: Save Us and Look Beyond
Influenced by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, this week’s Interfaith Lecture Series will address the spiritual themes of Marsalis’ masterpiece “All Rise.” What does it mean to seek salvation? What power is salvific, and who wields it? And then, what does it mean to look beyond — beyond the suffering and limitations of human life on earth, and beyond the horizon of all we can know or understand? These themes shape our lives, individually and in relationships with one another, and this week will allow us to reflect on their power and our own paths to wisdom.