2020 Lectures in Religion Series:
Last year, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg presented her lecture, “Unrepentant: What America Needs to Learn About Repairing Harm”, which brought the wisdom of Maimonides to bear on our understanding of what it means to repent, seek forgiveness, and make repair – and how this may apply to everything from the culture of sexual harassment revealed by the #metoo movement, to reparations for enslavement, to reparations for the genocide of Native Americans.
This program has lived up to its purpose and proceeded to reveal how the great religious traditions of humanity retain a spirit that can not only diagnose, but heal. This year builds on our faithful foundation as we welcome Dr. Ellen F. Davis of Duke Divinity School to Hiram College from her home in North Carolina.
by Dr. Ellen F. Davis
Engaging the story of Exodus within the Hebrew Bible from her stance within the Christian tradition, Dr. Davis brings forth what she believes will be among the necessary “vision and principles” for humanity to confront the climate crisis and repair the earth.
What was once willfully believed to be a distant threat with limited capacity to disrupt human life, has arrived with great force. It has been revealing itself among the poles and along the equator for some time, and now it is visible within our nation as we turn on our screens to scenes of fire and flood, and even here in the skies as we view the smoke from the West Coast pass over. It is here. It’s impact is unforgiving and unjust. It is a natural response to centuries of utilitarian attitudes towards the land, creatures, cultures, humanity, and the future itself…
And, yet! We know from science that there is still time to act to mitigate the most severe consequences of climate change. We know from institutional and governmental research that the necessary actions will be political, technological, and economic, and we would do well to include the wisdom of our religious traditions, as they are well-versed in holy and sacred acts of liberation, healing, and repair. Friends, this is a powerful, good, and necessary word for us this evening, And Hiram College is proud to facilitate it.
Dr. Ellen F. Davis is the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School. Author of eleven books and many articles, her research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their response to urgent public issues, particularly the ecological crisis and interfaith relations. Her work, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible integrates biblical studies with a critique of industrial agriculture and excessive capitalism, and serves as an excellent accompaniment to this year’s lecture. Her most recent books are Preaching the Luminous Word and Opening Israel’s Scriptures, which certainly hold promise for us as well.
Dr. Davis is a lay Episcopalian, she has long been active as a theological consultant and teacher within the Anglican Communion, especially in East Africa. Her current work explores dance, poetry, and visual arts as modes of interpreting Scripture. Hiram College is honored to welcome as the 2020 Lectures in Religion speaker, Dr. Ellen. F. Davis.