Rev. Harold Good to speak on peace in Northern Ireland and Indianapolis roots

untitledINDIANAPOLIS — The Rev. Harold Good, an internationally renowned peacemaker, will be at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Sept. 10 to speak about Indianapolis and the road to peace in Northern Ireland.

As former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Good played a key role in Northern Ireland’s peacemaking process.

The lecture, at 1 p.m. in the Lilly Auditorium of University Library, is free and open to the public.

“Rev. Good is in a unique position to speak about issues of peace, justice and reconciliation,” said Robert White, chair of the Department of Sociology in the IU School of Liberal Arts. “Along with the late Father Alec Reid, Rev. Good was one of two members of the clergy trusted enough by paramilitaries that he was asked to witness the final decommissioning of weapons of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 2005.”

A native of Ireland, Good spent several years in Indianapolis as a student and pastor before returning to Ireland in the 1970s.

Good has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to peace, justice and reconciliation. During his time as Methodist Church leader, Good joined Northern Ireland’s other main church leaders to press for peace and engage in talks with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. Known for his ministry on the streets of Northern Ireland, Good displayed both physical and spiritual courage in working to reconcile the Protestant and Catholic communities, and urging the end to violent action and reaction.

The lecture is sponsored by the IUPUI Common Theme on Civil Discourse, the Office of International Affairs, the Sociology Department of the IU School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI Honors College, and the Methodist Church of Indiana and Christian Theological Seminary.

Study: “The Bible in American Life”

UntitledThe year 2011 marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. It also marked the beginning of a three-year Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI ) study of the Bible’s place in the everyday lives of Americans.

With a $507,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture – a program of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI – set out to answer questions of how, where, when and why ordinary Americans use the Bible.

According to findings made public online in the 44-page “The Bible in American Life” report, the four-centuries-old King James Version of the Bible is far from dead. Despite its archaic language and a market flooded with newer, more modern English translations, more than half of the individuals and two-fifths of the congregations surveyed still prefer the King James Bible.

And of those surveyed, African Americans reported the highest levels of Bible engagement.

Seventy percent of all blacks said they read the Bible outside of public worship services, compared to 44 percent for whites, 46 percent for Hispanics and 28 percent for all other races.

Bible memorization is highest among black respondents, 69 percent, compared to 51 percent among white conservative Protestants and 31 percent among white moderate/liberal Protestants.

“There are no measures, individually or in congregations, where ‘black’ is not strongly correlated with the most conservative, most active, most involved level of scriptural engagement, no matter which other group comes closest,” the report says.

“If one wanted to predict whether someone had read the Bible, believed it to be the literal or inspired Word of God, and used it to learn about many practical aspects of life, knowing whether or not that person was black is the single best piece of information one could have.”

The report first looks at the practice of scripture reading in the United States, and then explores eight measures among those who read the Bible, such as Bible translation used; scripture memorization habits; favorite passages; and race.

Roughly half of Americans have read religious scripture outside of a public worship service in the past year. For 95 percent of those, the Bible is the scripture they read.

What did the study reveal about Bible readers?

Most of those people read at least monthly, and a substantial number – 9 percent of all Americans – read every day.

Women were more likely to read than men; older people were more likely to read than younger; Southerners were more likely to read than those of any other region.

The percentage of verse memorizers among Bible readers (48 percent) equates to roughly a fourth of the American population as a whole, or nearly 80 million people.

Psalm 23 – which begins “The Lord is my shepherd” – was the most popular Biblical passage.

Younger people, those with higher salaries and, most dramatically, those with more education among the respondents read the Bible on the internet or an e-device at higher rates.

The written report, based on survey questions on both the General Social Survey (1,551 individuals) and the National Congregations Study III (denominations represented among the General Social Survey respondents), is the first stage of the study and offers sociological data about the role of the Bible.

“Historians and sociologists have been working for years to understand how religion is lived out on a daily level,” said Philip Goff, executive director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and one of the three principal investigators who led the study. “This gives us a good snapshot of the practice of Bible reading. That should also help ministers understand the people in their pews.”

Goff’s co-investigators are Arthur Farnsley, associate director of the center; and Peter Thuesen, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at IUPUI.

full article found here

Notre Dame historian and professor to discuss ‘The Bible Then and Now’ in public talk

INDIANAPOLIS — Noted historian and National Endowment for the Humanities medal recipient Mark Noll will deliver a public talk Thursday, Aug. 7, as part of the IUPUI Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture’s The Bible and American Life Conference.

Noll will present “The Bible Then and Now” at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 125 Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Registration is not required for this keynote talk, which is open to the entire Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus as well as the general public.

Noll is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. His numerous books include “The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith” (InterVarsity Press, 2009); “God and Race in American Politics: A Short History” (Princeton University Press, 2008); and “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis” (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; in 2006 he received the National Endowment for the Humanities medal at a White House ceremony.

The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture is part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The Bible and American Life Conference, taking place Wednesday through Friday at Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, is the second stage of a project that seeks to provide the first large-scale investigation of the Bible in American life.

Earlier this year, the center released the first part of the project: a report based on a national survey of American Bible reading. Among its many findings, the study discovered:

•    There is a 50/50 split among Americans who read any form of scripture in the past year and those who did not.

•    Among those who read any form of scripture in the past year, 95 percent named the Bible as the scripture they read.

•    Despite the proliferation of Bible translations, the King James Version is the top choice — and by a wide margin — of Bible readers.

•    The strongest correlation with Bible reading is race, with African Americans reading the Bible at considerably higher rates than others.

•    Bible readers consult scripture for personal prayer and devotion three times more to learn about culture war issues such as abortion, homosexuality, war or poverty.
A conference schedule and registration information are available online.

Davis continues ‘telling stories’ in new novel with a twist to an old theme

unnamedINDIANAPOLIS — Thomas J. Davis’ third and latest novel brings something new to the age-old tale of a man selling his soul to the devil.

In The Devil Likes to Sing (Cascade Books), Davis, professor of religious studies and associate dean for academic programs in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, tells the story of Timothy McFarland, a failed theology student who begins writing fiction. Feeling he’s a hack, McFarland strikes a deal with Lucifer, who offers to shape him into a success.

“The book is a look at self-identity,” Davis said. “How we think of ourselves, who we are, whether or not we accept ourselves. Within all of us we have these self-doubts, thinking there is a way to change who we are that will make us more acceptable to others.”

Struggling with self-identity and self-doubt often opens protagonists up to searching for change.

“That’s where the notion of temptation comes in—at what price is one willing to make changes . . .” Davis said. “Once you hit the notion of temptation—especially for me, because I’ve spent my scholarly life studying the history of Christianity—the devil becomes an interesting tool by which to explore temptation because the devil as an image has the benefit of representing both an external force as well as something deeper, an internal struggle.”

Bringing something new to the age-old concept of the deal with the devil story was the author’s challenge. How could his devil differ from interpretations such as Milton’s Paradise Lost, the German myth of Faust, contemporary portrayals such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and even Saturday Night Live?

Davis’ solution is a devil who can be funny, witty and enjoy sublime Anglican church music as well as American rock and roll.

“The character needed balance—a balance of lightheartedness and darkness, gravitas and humor, familiarity and distance, friendship and contempt,” Davis said. “That was the hardest thing to maintain while writing the devil. He had to appear almost friendly, almost helpful, almost fun while currents of evil still ran beneath him. That had to leak out around the edges, but not too much.”

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor wanted to be a storyteller long before his first foray into fiction, but he focused instead on his education and academic career. The professor’s jump into novel writing was eventually triggered by boyhood memories of stories told by his father.

“My father was grieving about the disappearance of a way of life in the north Georgia mountains that he had known as a boy,” Davis says. “He would tell stories about when he was a kid, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to capture my father’s sense of wonder in a novel and write about north Georgia through his perspective.’”

That exercise grew into his first novel, The Christmas Quilt (Rutledge Hill Press), a story about a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother’s final months of life. The book earned a Reader’s Choice award and was a selection in the Doubleday Book Club. “That book came from my need to pay homage to my ancestry,” Davis said.

Storytelling also plays a role in his classroom. “Much of what I teach is the history of Christianity, and it tends to be very narrative driven—I tell a lot of stories in class,” Davis said. “I’ve noticed that students tend to be drawn in with a good story.”

In Davis’ new novel, the devil also takes the storytelling approach, only he twists religious history to suit his needs. Davis warns that the epigraphs that open the book—selections from Milton, Blake, and the New Testament on the nature of the devil—are important for the reader. The book also ends with a warning that readers shouldn’t take the devil’s word on matters of Christian faith and practices at face value.

“He is, after all, somewhat biased,” Davis said.

Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture offers conference on how Bible is used

391697_w296INDIANAPOLIS — Registration is now underway for a national conference that will culminate a three-year Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis study of how — outside of religious services – - Americans use the Bible in their daily lives.

The Conference on the Bible in American Life will take place Wednesday Aug. 6, to Friday, Aug. 8, at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, 31 W. Ohio St., in downtown Indianapolis.

The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI is sponsoring the three-day event as part of the first large-scale investigation of the Bible in American life.

Noted historian Mark Noll of the University of Notre Dame will deliver a conference plenary address. Noll will present “The Bible: Then and Now” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at Christ Church Cathedral, 125 Monument Circle. Conference registration is not required for the plenary address, which is open to the public.

“While the Bible has been central to Christian practice throughout American history, many important questions remain unanswered in scholarship,” said Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, which is part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Those unanswered questions include how people read the Bible for themselves, how denominational and parachurch publications have influenced interpretation and application, and how clergy and congregations have influenced individual understandings of scripture, the director said.

“These questions are even more pressing today, as denominations are losing much of their traditional authority, technology is changing people’s reading and cognitive habits, and subjective experience is continuing to eclipse textual authority as the mark of true religion,” Goff said. “Understanding both the past and the future of Christian communities in the United States depends, even if only in part, on a serious analysis of how these cultural shifts are affecting Americans’ relationship to the Bible.”

Earlier this year, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture released a report about the Bible’s use based on a national survey of American Bible reading. During the upcoming conference, historians, sociologists, political scientists, seminary professors and religious leaders will offer analyses of the Bible in daily life that complement the report’s findings and will put those findings about the Bible’s use in a broader context.

Among the report’s many findings:

  • There is a 50/50 split among Americans who read any form of scripture (the Bible, the Quran, the Torah, etc.) in the past year and those who did not.
  • Among those who read any form of scripture in the past year, 95 percent named the Bible as the scripture they read.
  •  Despite the proliferation of Bible translations, the King James Version is the top choice — and by a wide margin — of Bible readers.
  •  The strongest correlation with Bible reading is race, with African Americans reading the Bible at considerably higher rates than others.

Seating for the three-day conference is limited, and advance registration is required. Registration before July 15 is $50; after July 15 it is $70.

Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations: Planning Grants

neh_at_logoNEH’s Division of Public Programs supports activities that engage millions of Americans in understanding significant humanities works and ideas. At the center of every NEH-funded public humanities project is a core set of humanities ideas developed by scholars, matched to imaginative formats that bring those ideas to life for people of all ages and all walks of life. Projects must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship in a discipline such as history, religion, anthropology, jurisprudence, or art history. NEH is a national funding agency, so the projects we support must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad, general audience. We welcome humanities projects tailored to particular groups, such as families, youth (including K-12 students), teachers, seniors, at-risk communities, and veterans, but they should also strive to cultivate a more inclusive audience.

Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations grants provide support for museums, libraries, historic places, and other organizations that produce public programs in the humanities.

Grants support the following formats:

  • exhibitions at museums, libraries, and other venues;
  • interpretations of historic places, sites, or regions; and
  • book/film discussion programs; living history presentations; and other face-to-face programs at libraries, community centers, and other public venues.

NEH encourages projects that explore humanities ideas through multiple formats. Proposed projects might include complementary components that deepen an audience’s understanding of a subject: for example, a museum exhibition might be accompanied by a website, mobile app, or discussion programs.

Planning grants support the early stages of project development, including consultation with scholars, refinement of humanities themes, preliminary design, testing, and audience evaluation.

Program Statistics

In the last five competitions the Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations: Planning Grants program received an average of 64 applications. The program made an average of six awards per competition, for a funding ratio of 9 percent.

The number of applications to an NEH grant program can vary widely from competition to competition, as can the funding ratio. Information about the average number of applications and awards in recent competitions is meant only to provide historical context for the current competition. Information on the number of applications and awards in individual competitions is available from publicpgms@neh.gov.

 

Division of Public Programs

Receipt Deadline August 13, 2014 for Projects Beginning April 2015

Questions?

Contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Public Programs at 202-606-8269 or publicpgms@neh.gov. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.

New IU ethics consortium announces funding for research projects

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana University Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society is offering funding for research proposals from IU faculty that explore the theme of wonder, especially as it intersects with nature and the environment.

The IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society is an interdisciplinary association of scholars, academic programs and research centers from the eight campuses of Indiana University. The consortium was launched in January 2014 to leverage IU’s strengths in the interdisciplinary study of religion and advance research in key thematic areas.

This is the first call for research proposals from the new consortium. The research proposals are part of the first phase of a two-year thematic initiative — “Wonder and the Natural World” — sponsored by the consortium.

rachel carsonThe approaching 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book “The Sense of Wonder” in 2015 makes the IU consortium’s theme especially timely, said Lisa Sideris, associate professor of religious studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, who is also the inaugural director of the consortium.

“Wonder has played a key role in the environmental movement since that movement’s inception,” Sideris said. “We’re seeking proposals that ‘push the envelope’ in exploring the intersecting themes of wonder and nature, such as war and nature (‘shock and awe’), children’s natural spirituality, cinematic or fictional representations of wonder, even areas such as genetic engineering and wonder in artificial environments, like theme parks.”

Funding of up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for teams is available. Full-time, tenure-track IU faculty members from any IU campus are eligible to apply, with proposals that cut across disciplines, units or campuses especially welcome.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 1, 2014. Funding awards will be announced at the end of October. Recipients will present their preliminary findings and works-in-progress at a daylong symposium at IU Bloomington in May 2015.

The full call for proposals may be found online on the Department of Religious Studies website. Proposals should be emailed to Abby Gitlitz at agitlitz@indiana.edu. For additional information on the consortium or the funding awards, contact Sideris at lsideris@indiana.edu.

President of Christian Theological Seminary to present talk on role of religion in medicine

Tuesday, October 29, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Emerson Hall Auditorium, Room 304
2013-2014 Medical Humanities and Health Studies Seminar Series

Matt Boulton, President and Professor of Theology, Christian Theological Seminary, will deliver a presentation titled, “Your Faith Has Made You Well—Or Has It?: Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Medical Care and Wellbeing.”

For many healthcare professionals and patients, religion and spirituality play important roles in how care and wellbeing are understood and experienced—and yet in many cases, our capacities for exploring these connections are overlooked, underdeveloped, or relegated to specialists.

For example, many healthcare professionals conceive and experience their work as a spiritual or religious vocation; likewise, many patients experience illness, decline, recovery, and wellbeing in religious and spiritual terms. What we require are accessible, inclusive, engaging strategies for exploring these dimensions of life and work. This talk will survey this territory, using some specific Jewish and Christian resources as case studies, but with an eye to other traditions as well.

For more information, please see the flyer here.

Presented by the Spirit of Medicine Program and the Medical Humanities and Health Studies Seminar Series