Longing for Mayberry: Cultural Ideals as Weapons of Exclusion

Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]


Historically, the concept of an ideal community that is populated with ideal people includes appeals to nostalgia, as seen in the fictional idyllic 1960s television town of Mayberry. The ideals look innocent on the surface, but they are arranged according to a cultural template that actually gives license to exclude and to do harm to others who seem outside the template.


Dr. Reggie L. Williams is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and an expert on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Protestant minister who was executed for participating in an assassination plot against Hitler. His 2014 book, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title in 2015 in the field of religion. His research interests include Christology, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, race, politics and black church life. His current book project is a religious critique of whiteness in the Harlem Renaissance, entitled Interrogating Theological Anthropology in the Harlem Renaissance: The Figure of the Human as a Problem for Christian Ethics. In addition, he is working on a book analyzing the reception of Bonhoeffer by liberation activists in apartheid South Africa.

Session 1 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.