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Philosophy & Religion | Durfee Lecture Series

The Annual Durfee Lecture was initiated by a generous gift from Harold A. Durfee and Doris G. Durfee.  Held every spring, the series provides our students and colleagues with the opportunity to meet distinguished thinkers.

Current Lecture
Locating Contemporary Spirituality: New Thoughts 
on the Changing American Religious Landscape

Courtney Bender
Professor of Religion
Columbia University

Wednesday, March 30
Butler Board Room

Abstract: Over the last two decades, surveys have captured a portrait of a rapidly changing American religious landscape: more Americans are opting out of religious identities, and many of this group claim that they are post-religious, or “spiritual not religious.” While surveys can tell us much, it nonetheless remains that many features of this landscape thus remain rather dimly lit – or difficult to discern from such remove. Taking this observation as a beginning point, this talk first considers the ethnographic “ground” passed over by surveys, to consider the durable and flourishing organizational support for American spiritualities that suggest more stability than change, and then considers the American spiritual imagination that has developed through surveys – as they have suggested a position from the “sky” which makes new national religious horizons visible.

Bio: Courtney Bender is a Professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary American religious life. A sociologist and ethnographer by training, her work focuses principally on the production and practice of religion, in order to better understand the contours and implications of religious concepts, ideas and actions in modern social life.

Bender is the author of the award-winning The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination­,  and Heaven’s Kitchen: Living Religion at God’s Love We Deliver, and has co-edited or contributed to volumes focused on the sociological study of religion, critical themes in religious studies, religious pluralism and secularism. She chairs the Social Science Research Council’s 2011-15 program New Directions in the Study of Prayer.

Past Lectures

Religious Difference Without Religious Conflict
Stephen Prothero
Professor of Religion, Boston University

The Religious-Secular Binary as a Space of Pluralism
Slavica Jakelic
Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Thought
Valparaiso University
Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
University of Virginia
God's Fifth Abode: Entrepreneurial Faith in the Hindu Himalayas
Brian K. Pennington
Chair, Division of Humanities; Professor of Religion
Maryville College
Islam and Human Rights: Religious and Secular in Conversation
Abdulaziz Sachedina
Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies
University of Virginia, Charlottesville
A for Antigone: Reading Derrida's Differance Again
Amy Hollywood
Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies
 Harvard Divinity School

Sheep Gone Astray:
The Tragic History of the Religious Right

Randall Balmer
Professor of American Religious History
Bernard College, Columbia University

Religion and National Conflict: Reflections on Myanmar, Iraq, and Other Current Examples
David Little
Professor of the Practice in Religion, Ethnicity, and
International Conflict, Harvard Divinity School;
Fellow of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

Parmenides in the 21st Century
Harold A. Durfee
Professor Emeritus
Department of Philosophy and Religion
American University

Courtney Bender Durfee Lecture 2016