Nov 17

Nov. 20-21 conference to examine realism in religious and political thought

Published on: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The concept of “Christian realism” has influenced world leaders from Pope Benedict XVI to President Obama (who called Christian realist theologian Reinhold Niebuhr one of his favorite philosophers). The impulse for Christians’ public theology to be realistic – based on a clear-headed assessment of facts about God, humanity and the world – is common to Catholics and Protestants alike. But their themes and definitions of realism differ, and that’s the topic of a November conference at the University of St. Thomas.

“Christian Realism and Public Life: Catholic and Protestant Perspectives,” sponsored by the university’s Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, will explore what it means for Christian thought to be “realist” in addressing public issues, international and domestic.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. For more information,  e-mail  murphyinstit@stthomas.edu or call (651) 962-4842. Attendees are welcome to attend the entire conference or selected sessions.

Sessions will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, at the university’s School of Law, located on Harmon Place between 11th and 12th Streets in downtown Minneapolis.

Speakers at plenary sessions, to be held in the Moot Courtroom at the School of Law, include:

·         Gerard Bradley, professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, a widely published scholar on natural law, law and religion, and constitutional law.

·         Dr. John Carlson, assistant professor of religious studies and associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University, a frequent writer on questions concerning the justice of war.

·         Dr. William Cavanaugh, associate professor of theology at St. Thomas, whose books examine the intersections of theology, the Christian church, and politics.

·         Dr. Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago, widely recognized as among the nation’s leading public intellectuals.  Her books include Just War on Terror (2003) and Sovereignty (2008).

·         Dr. James Turner Johnson, professor of religion at the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences, who has published numerous books and articles on the history and meaning of the doctrine of “just war.”

·         Dr. Robin Lovin, the Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at Southern Methodist University,,widely recognized as a leading expert on Christian Realism for books such Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism (1995) and Christian Realism and the New Realities (2008).

·         Dr. Jeanne Heffernan Schindler, assistant professor of humanities at Villanova University, whose publications include Christianity and Civil Society: Catholic and Neo-Calvinist Perspectives (2008).

·         David Skeel Jr., S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, who also teaches a course on Christian Perspectives on Law and has written articles such as “Christianity and the (Modest) Rule of Law”  (2006).

The conference also features presentations by 18 other scholars on the influence of Christian realism in international law and policy, environmental stewardship, economics, solidarity, the proliferation of war, religious liberty, civic virtue, immigration policy, neurobiology, health care, and more.

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