Longing for Mayberry: Cultural Ideals as Weapons of Exclusion

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

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.


 

Suffering Citizens: Past Traumas in Jewish and African American Youth Literature

Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

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

 

Cover: As Good as Anybody
Raul Colón, illustrator

Youth literature about and written by Ashkenazi Jews, Christian African Americans, and African American Jews all rely on themes of suffering to graft their subjects into the American body politic. This rhetorical strategy has failures and weaknesses in an age of growing white supremacism. Reading “multi-directionally,” we can see how Jewish and African Americans utilize similar literary strategies but also where their historical experiences differ, and what happens at the intersection of those two identities, as in the case of author Julius Lester and others.

Jodi Eichler Levine is Director of American Studies, Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization, and Associate Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. The author of Suffer the Little Children: Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children’s Literature (2013, 2015), she analyzes what is at stake in portraying religious history for young people, particularly when their histories are traumatic ones. Her work is located at the intersection of Jewish studies, religion in North America, literature, material culture, and gender studies. Future projects include a book on Jewish women, material culture, politics, and performance, currently titled Crafting Judaism: Creativity, Gender, and Jewish Americans and ongoing research into Jewish children’s literature, popular culture, race, ethnicity, and religion in the USA.


Session 2 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.


 

Did the Bible Sanction Slavery?

How the Churches Used the Bible to Justify Slaveholding

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

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

 

This presentation discusses how supporters of slavery in the United States and Europe used the Bible and other religious arguments to justify the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans in Europe and the Americas from the 1400s to the late 19th century. Yet, those who advocated the abolition of slavery also called upon the Bible to condemn it as immoral. The dispute demonstrates the complex place of the Bible in American society and jurisprudence.

 

Dr. Paul Finkelman is the President of Gratz College in Philadelphia and the author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2014); Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court (2018) and Defending Slavery (2019). He has been cited in four decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs.  He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in over a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan.  In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty for Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.”


Session 3 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.