Chapel co-founder Dominique de Menil built her life according to the belief that spiritual forces are of consequence in real world affairs. She insisted that a capacity for reverence was essential to successfully advancing justice. And yet, contemporary religious forces often seem to be at odds with human rights concerns. Though the passion for human rights involves a deep commitment to equality of all people and their right to flourish, the underlying legal framework of human rights discourse, with its foundation in enlightenment philosophy, often ignores humankind’s spiritual aspirations and constitution. Human rights are, in this sense, built upon a discourse of “universality.” Religion, especially as it intersects with nationalism and culture, is often (though clearly not always) a domain of particularity that highlights difference– the saved and unsaved, believers and unbelievers, us and them. Speakers in this series will explore the tension between a universal discourse on human rights and the particular claims religion makes on its adherents: in what ways does religion further the promotion of human rights? In what ways does religion inhibit the promotion of human rights? And how can the conversation transcend a legal framework and remain open to the deepest longings of the human spirit?
Well-known scholars and intellectuals conversant in the world’s philosophical and religious traditions will deliver a series of lectures. They will represent various faith perspectives in the promotion of human rights and will address a range of human rights concerns.
Human Rights, Universality and Sovereignty in African and Islamic Perspectives Abdullahi An-Na’im, PhD Saturday, March 19, 2pm (Note: Time change) Abdullahi An-Na’im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and serves as the director of the Religion and Human Rights Program at Emory; he is also a senior fellow of Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Na’im is an internationally-recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives. Professor An-Na'im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. An-Na’im is the author of numerous books and articles, including Islam and the Secular State (Harvard University Press, 2008).
Political Economy and the Holistic Spirituality of Jesus Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., PhD Wednesday, March 23, 7pm Obery Hendricks teaches biblical interpretation at New York Theological Seminary in New York, and is the author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted (Doubleday, 2006). He is a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Democratic National Committee and an Affiliated Scholar in the "Faith and Public Policy Initiative" at the Center for American Progress.
The Path Beyond the Path: Mysticism and the Spiritual Quest for Universal Singularity Elliot R. Wolfson, PhD Thursday, April 7, 7pm Elliot R. Wolfson is the Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. His main area of scholarly research is the history of Jewish mysticism, but he has brought to bear on that field training in philosophy, literary criticism, feminist theory, postmodern hermeneutics, and the phenomenology of religion. His numerous publications include Through the Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (1994), which won the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Category of Historical Studies, 1995, and the National Jewish Book Award for Excellence in Scholarship, 1995; and the forthcoming A Dream Interpreted Within a Dream: Oneiropoiesis and the Prism of Imagination (2011).
The Humanity of Soldiers: Spiritual Injury and the Right of Moral Conscience in War Rita Nakashima Brock, PhD April 12, 7pm Rita Nakashima Brock is a founding Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good and a Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. She is the author of numerous books on Christian theology, most recently Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, with Rebecca Parker. Brock is currently working with the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, which is exploring the impact of moral injury on soldiers and advocating for the adoption of selective conscientious objection in times of war.
The Rights of Others: Citizens, Migrants and Residents Seyla Benhabib, PhD Friday, April 29, 7pm Seyla Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and former director of Yale University’s Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics (2002-2008). She is the author of many books, including The Rights of Others: Aliens, Citizens and Residents (2004), which won the Ralph Bunche award of the American Political Science Association (2005) and the North American Society for Social Philosophy award (2004).