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.
Locating Contemporary Spirituality: New Thoughts on the Changing American Religious Landscape
Courtney Bender Professor of Religion Columbia University
Wednesday, March 30 3pm 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.
2015 Religious Difference Without Religious Conflict Stephen Prothero Professor of Religion, Boston University
2014 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
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2009 Sheep Gone Astray:
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