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The Center for Spiritual Life
Wireman Chapel at Eckerd College

Doug McMahon, Jr.
Director of the Center for Spiritual Life and Chaplain

Libby Shannon '05
Associate Director of the Center for Spiritual Life and Chaplain

Father John Gerth
Catholic Campus Ministries

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Campus Rabbi
Executive Director Suncoast Hillel
Office: 813-899-2788
Office Fax: 813-899-2919

Center for Spiritual Life

Center for Spiritual Life

Burchenal Lecture Series

Fall 2015

Reading Biblical Rape Texts Within Contemporary American Title IX Debates
Monday, September 28, 7:30 p.m. | Fox Hall

Dr. Susanne Scholz, Professor of Old Testament, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

The Bible contains numerous accounts of sexual violence. How shall we deal with these rape texts in light of the enduring influence of the Bible in American culture? Especially now, within a climate of concern over violence against women often referenced in contemporary Title IX discussions, we have to ask whether such debates should inform reading strategies of the Bible.

Gideon's Army: Talk by Film Director Dawn Porter
Thursday, October 8, 7:30 p.m. | Fox Hall

Dawn Porter, Film Director and Producer

This startling documentary follows the personal stories of three young public defenders as they challenge the assumption that our criminal justice system represents "justice for all." Nominated for an Outstanding Informational Programming EMMY, The New York Times called it "a bare film with no narrator and a minimal soundtrack" that will "grab you by the throat."

Rewriting the Ending: The Corrected Apocalypse
Thursday, October 15, 7:30 p.m. | Fox Hall

Dr. Juan Hernández Jr., Professor of Biblical Studies, Bethel University

It is no doubt curious that the one book of the New Testament issuing a curse against those who would tamper with its text is itself riddled with scores of changes, corrections, and qualifications throughout. The Book of Revelation's manuscript tradition bears witness to this correcting activity with near impunity. And yet, far from simply invading the text, the textual changes reflect on of the ways individuals make sense out of obscure religious texts.

In God We Trust? The Politicization of Religion in American Politics
Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 p.m. | Fox Hall

Dr. Anthony R. Brunello, Professor of Political Science, Eckerd College

America has been described as the most religious country among the industrialized Western democracies, and as G.K. Chesterton famously suggested, America is "a nation with the soul of a church." Even so, something happened in the second half of the 20th century that has transformed American politics, challenging the principles of a separation of "church and state," beyond even Chesterton's understandings. In the 21st century religion and religious speech have become politicized.

Past Events from the Burchenal Series

The Challenge of Moral Leadership among College Students

Robert M. Franklin James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University and Director of the Religion Department of the Chautauqua Institution

The moral challenges of life today require leadership grounded in integrity, courage, and respect for all. Dr. Robert M. Franklin will lead a participatory and interactive presentation on moral leadership among college students in a town hall style gathering. Eckerd student leaders will join Dr. Franklin in a conversation about the most important local and global issues facing students today.

Franklin is the author of three books: Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities (2007); Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (1997); and Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought (1990). He has co-authored (Don S. Browning, et. al.) a volume titled, From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate (2001). He also penned the foreword to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Letter from Birmingham Jail, reprinted by Trinity Forum in 2012 and provides commentary for the National Public Radio (NPR) program, “All Things Considered,” and weekly commentary for Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Television. Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr. is the James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Emory University (Atlanta), the Director of the Religion Department of the Chautauqua Institution and president emeritus of Morehouse College. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Chicago Divinity School.

Making Peace with the Earth

Vandana Shiva Author, activist and scientific advisor

Dr. Shiva was trained as a physicist and is best known for her environmental and anti-globalization activism. She has published numerous books on topics including biopiracy, global food security, feminism, and justice issues. As Dr. Shiva says in her book, Making Peace with the Earth, "Wars against the Earth become wars against people, and peace with the earth is linked to peace among people, based on mutual respect, dignity and equality."

The End of the Universe: the Domain of Science or Religion?

David J. Bryant Professor of Religious Studies, Eckerd College and Stephen Weppner Professor of Physics, Eckerd College

Is science the only legitimate approach to reality? Are there multiple realities? Do scientific explanations of the universe replace religions, or do they open doors to different worlds? This lecture will explore these and similar questions with particular attention to recent conversations generated by the detection of the God particle.

"Something Worse Than This": Odysseus and the Long Journey Home

Heather Vincent,
Associate Professor of Classics, Eckerd College

Dr. Heather Vincent is Associate Professor Classics at Eckerd College.  She earned her Ph.D. in Classics from Brown University and also holds an M.A. in Latin and Greek from the University of Maryland. She has published articles and book chapters on Roman satire, ancient comedy, theoretical approaches to humor in ancient literature, and constructions of gender and sexuality in the ancient world.  Professor Vincent is currently working on a book exploring applications of modern linguistic humor theory to ancient satire and related genres. She has also served as a commissioned officer on active duty in the U.S. Army and in the Army National Guard. Above all, Professor Vincent is a passionate teacher, committed to the idea that the humanities and arts serve a vital role in the public realm.

Interstitial Thinking: Religious Musings at the Crossroads

Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, President and Professor of World Christianity, New York Theological Seminary

Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin is President and Professor of World Christianity at New York Theological Seminary in New York City. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary in New York, he is the author of several books, including History of the World Christian Movement, a three-volume project written with Scott W. Sunquist.  Over the past several decades his articles have appeared in a number of journals such as Christianity Today, Christian Century, The Ecumenical Review and The Journal of Pentecostal Studies.  He is a founding editor of The Journal of World Christianity and serves on the editorial board of The Living Pulpit.  Dr. Irvin has held visiting or adjunct appointments at a number of institutions, and has lectured and preached throughout the world. He is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches USA.

Critical Humanities: On the Once and Future University

Michael G. Levine, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Rutgers University

Dr. Michael G. Levine is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University.  He is the author of A Weak Messianic Power: Figures of a Time to Come in Benjamin, Derrida and Celan (Fordham, 2013), The Belated Witness: Literature, Testimony, and the Question of Holocaust Survival (Stanford, 2006) and Writing Through Repression: Literature, Censorship, Psychoanalysis (Johns Hopkins, 1994).  He is also co-editor with Bella Brodzki of a special issue of Comparative Literature Studies, "The Trials of Trauma" (2011).

Caliban's Heirs: Caribbean Writers and Shakespeare's The Tempest
Jared Stark

Jared Stark is Associate Professor of Literature at Eckerd College. Before joining the Eckerd faculty in 2004, he held visiting appointments at Cornell University and New York University. His teaching and research focus on interdisciplinary approaches to modernism, the history of the novel, literary criticism, postcolonial literatures, and Holocaust studies. His articles have dealt with topics including Edith Wharton’s fiction, the history of photography, and the literature of the Holocaust. He has also published, with Alina Bacall-Zwirn, No Common Place: The Holocaust Testimony of Alina Bacall-Zwirn (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

"Because of Science I Have to Be an Atheist" and Other Fallacies of Our Age
Philip Clayton

Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of theology. A Christian theologian, he has been a leading advocate for interreligious dialogue, comparative theologies, and the internationalization of the science-religion dialogue. Among his 22 authored or edited books are Religion and Science: The Basics; Transforming Christian Theology: For Church and Society; Adventures in the Spirit: God, World, Divine Action; In Quest of Freedom; and The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy, Faith.

A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts
Hal Taussig

Hal Taussig is Visiting Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York (since 1999), Professor of Early Christianity at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (since 1993), and Co-Pastor of the Chestnut Hill United Church in Philadelphia (since 1990). The most recent of his 13 published books are Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst Pain and Trauma; A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts; The Thunder: Perfect Mind: An Introduction and New Translation; In the Beginning Was the Meal: Social Experimentation and Early Christian Identity.

The End of the Word as We Know It: Rediscovering Scripture after the Death of the Bible
Timothy Beal

Timothy BealDescription: Tim Beal got his start as a professor of religious studies at Eckerd College. In fact, his latest book, The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, began as a plenary lecture for Western Heritage in a Global Context. Professor Beal returns to Eckerd to talk about his new book and the experiences with students at Eckerd that helped shape -- and that continue to inspire -- his own thinking about the Bible, not as a "book of answers" but as a "library of questions."

Bio: Timothy Beal is the Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University. He has published thirteen books and has written essays on religion and culture for The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The New York Times, among others.

Tibetan Medicine, Disease Spirits, Environmental Awareness
Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan

Ivette Vargas ObryanDescription: This lecture will address the correspondences between spirits diseases, religion and the ideologies of spatialization in Tibetan medical texts and local healing practices in India and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in China. Space in relation to geography and geomantic points are critical areas where spirit entities either retaliate or offer blessings to human residents in the form of a healthy body and political stability. As with Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medical systems, there is a relationship between the human and the spirit world, wherein any disruption pertaining to ethical, ritual and environmental integrity results in disease states. This talk will provide a close reading of the Tibetan medical text, the Rgyud bzhi, sections of the Bon text Klu 'bum, and results from fieldwork studies in India and TAR from 2009-2011 in order to understand the symbiosis between the environment, health, and religion in Tibetan culture. We will also appraise recent Tibetan responses to governmental environmental organizations and medical practices.

Bio: Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan is Associate Professor of Asian Religions at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She holds two Master of Arts degrees (Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Religious Studies) and a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University, with a strong emphasis on the history of religion and medical anthropology. She specializes in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism with a subspecialty in Hinduism, and her current research interests include the interface of Buddhism, medicine, and illness. From 2009-11 she served as a Fulbright Scholar at City University of Hong Kong in the Department of Asian and International Studies and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University/United International College in Zhuhai, China. As an international organizer and author of numerous publications on religion, disease and healing, as well as issues such as female monasticism and curriculum reform in Asia, Dr. Vargas-O'Bryan's interdisciplinary studies have been recognized through Mellon and Fulbright–Hayes Fellowships as well as scholarship and teaching awards at Austin College and beyond.

Justification by Doubt: Faith, Religion, and Free Inquiry
Lloyd W. Chapin

Lloyd W. Chapin is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Emeritus and Professor of Philosophy and Religion Emeritus of Eckerd College. He received his B.A. from Davidson College and Ph.D. in church history from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He is a former chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans, the Florida Humanities Council, and the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Tampa Bay. In 2007 Union presented him its distinguished alumnus award, and in 2010, upon his retirement as Eckerd's chief academic officer for 31 years, the college conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Encountering Lakshmi: What Do Hindus Worship When They Invoke the Goddess of Wealth?
Constantina Rhodes

Constantina Rhodes Hunter College of the City University of New York. Constantina Rhodes is a translator of Sanskrit devotional poetry and the author of several books and dozens of articles on Hindu Tantra, Kundalini Yoga, Kashmir Shaivism, and the traditions of the Goddess in India. Constantina holds a doctorate from Columbia University. She was a full professor with tenure at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida before moving back to New York City, where she teaches in the Program in Religion at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

The Mystical Spirituality of the Byzantine East
Kyricos Markides

Kyricos Markides, a native of Cyprus who has taught for 40 years in the Sociology Department at the University of Maine, is one of the most popular writers on Orthodox spirituality in America today. The author of seven books, four of them on the esoteric spiritual traditions of Mt. Athos in Greece, Professor Markides is a preeminent writer on the mystical spirituality of the Christian East (Greece and the Balkans, Russia, and the Middle East). His approach combines that of social scientist and spiritual seeker in a unique and engaging manner.

A Conversation with Author Tracy Kidder
Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. A visiting scholar-in-residence at Eckerd from September 17-21, 2012, his books, Strength in What Remains and Mountains Beyond Mountains, are assigned readings to Eckerd's freshmen and seniors in the Western Heritage in a Global Context and Quest for Meaning courses.

Faith Based Organizations and Health Care in Africa: Prospects and Challenges
Elias Bongmba, The Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University

Elias Bongmba The Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University. Elias Bongmba received his Ph.D. from the joint program at Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver. His recent book, Facing a Pandemic: The African Church and the Crisis of AIDS, is an interdisciplinary work in which he addresses the HIV/AIDS crisis and argues that the motif, the image of God (imago dei), challenges religious communities in Africa to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS at the local and national level through an ethic of love and compassion. He calls on religious communities to work with the global community to accelerate universal access to health care and promote the search for a vaccine.

Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Walk Into a Bar: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World
Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren is an activist and bestselling author. His dozen-plus books include A New Kind of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy, and most recently, Naked Spirituality. He is a former pastor and college English teacher.

Reframing the Open Source Church
Reverend Carol Howard Merritt, Assoc. Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church, DC
Reverend Landon Whitsitt, Vice-Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Carol Howard Merritt is a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. and a student and prolific writer of issues related to social media, generational characteristics and the church. She is the author of Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation and Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation. She also co-hosts God Complex Radio, an online radio program.

Landon Whitsitt is a Presbyterian minister and is currently the Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Executive and Stated Clerk of the Synod of Mid-America. He is the author of Open Source Church: Tapping into the Wisdom of the Priesthood of All Believers. He is a co-host God Complex Radio, a weekly internet radio show.

Lost Cities, Tombs, Treasures, and Ethics: Solving the Ancient Mysteries and Battling the Modern Oppression of the Maya
Arthur Demarest, Ingram Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University

Arthur Demarest is the Ingram Professor of Anthropology and Director of Vanderbilt Institute of Mesoamerican Archaeology at Vanderbilt University. Professor Demarest's has published over a hundred articles and twenty books and monographs including Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization. His archaeological discoveries have been covered in National Geographic and American Archaeology and he was profiled in Science.

The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam
Eliza Griswold, Award-winning investigative journalist and poet

Eliza Griswold, Award-winning investigative journalist and poet Co-sponsored by the Col. Christian L. and Edna March International Relations Speakers Series

Eliza Griswold received a 2011 Anthony J. Lukas prize for her New York Times Bestselling Book The Tenth Parallel, an examination of examination of Christianity and Islam in Africa and Asia. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, she reports on religion, conflict and human rights. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The New Republic, among many others.

From Heresy to History: Engaging Biblical Studies in An Age of Scientific Faith 
Davina C. Lopez, Eckerd College & Todd Penner, Austin College

Davina C. Lopez teaches courses in biblical, ancient, and gender studies at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida. A New Testament and Early Christianity scholar, her research interests include Pauline studies, Roman imperial art and literature, social theories and methods in the study of religion, and critical approaches to teaching and learning in Biblical and Religious Studies. She is the author of Apostle to the Conquered: Reimagining Paul's Mission.

Todd Penner is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Gender Studies Program at Austin College. Todd's area of expertise is in New Testament and Christian Origins. Most recently, he has co-authored Contextualizing Gender in Early Christian Discourse.

Rome's Empire and God's Kingdom 
John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies, DePaul University

John Dominic Crossan was born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, in 1934. He was educated in Ireland and the United States, received a Doctorate of Divinity from Maynooth College, Ireland, in 1959.  He was a member of a thirteenth-century Roman Catholic religious order, the Servites (Ordo Servorum Mariae), from 1950 to 1969 and an ordained priest from 1957 to 1969. He joined DePaul University, Chicago, in 1969 and remained there until 1995. He was Co-Chair of the Jesus Seminar from 1985 to 1996 as it met in twice-annual meetings to debate the historicity of the life of Jesus in the gospels. He was Chair of the Parables Seminar in 1972-76, Editor of Semeia. An Experimental Journal for Biblical Criticism in 1980-86, and Chair of the Historical Jesus Section in 1993-1998, within the Society of Biblical Literature, an international scholarly association for biblical study based in the United States.  His most recent book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer, was published by HarperOne, San Francisco in 2010.

God in the Wilderness:  Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors

Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold serves as the spiritual leader of the Adventure Rabbi Program in Boulder, Colorado.  Rabbi Korngold is a Reform rabbi, ordained by Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also received her Masters in Hebrew Letters.  Rabbi Jamie is the author of the best selling books, God in the Wilderness (Doubleday, 2008) and The God Upgrade. (Doubleday 2011) Rabbi Korngold's resume is eclectic, including such seemingly divergent experiences as congregational rabbi in Canada, street musician in Japan, Emergency Medical Technician, and Outward Bound Guide.

The Edible Peace Patch Garden: Transforming Communities in St. Petersburg
Kent "Kip" Curtis, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Eckerd College

Christianities and Islams in Africa

Elias Bongmba - The Harry and Hazel Chavanne chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University
Valerie Hoffman - Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Mission and Work

Eckerd College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church, USA and is a member of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.

The mission and work of the Center are enriched and informed by the Reformed Tradition, while remaining ecumenical and inclusive in focus as the Center seeks to meet the spiritual needs of our diverse academic community.