WIPPS 2013 Spring News: Philip Jenkins Named Speaker for the James F. Veninga Lecture on Religion and Politics

Philip Jenkins will be the featured speaker for the second annual James F. Veninga Lecture on Religion and Politics. Dr. Jenkins is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and author of the acclaimed Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses and Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, And Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe For The Next 1,500 Years. He is a contributing editor and columnist for numerous journals, including Studies of Religion, The American Conservative, The Christian Century and The Atlantic, and his primary research areas include global religious violence, terrorism, Native American spirituality, and the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. Jenkins’ work has addressed such topical issues as the media’s interest in the so-called “crisis of celibacy” and whether the Catholic Church is more likely than other organizations to be involved in misconduct. He has also  studied parallel processes of what he calls “holy amnesia” in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, in which violence in sacred texts become symbolic action against one’s sins.

On September 26, 2013, WIPPS, in collaboration with UW-Marathon County and UW Colleges/UW-Extension and generously supported by the B.A. and Esther Greenheck Foundation, will sponsor a 7 p.m. free public event in the UW Center for Civic Engagement Theatre in honor of James F. Veninga,  former Campus Executive Officer and Dean at UWMC. During his leadership, Veninga helped establish the UW Center for Civic Engagement, WIPPS, and the UW Colleges Religious Studies Program. The lecture series in his name honors Veninga’s work in finding new and creative ways of connecting university resources to meet community needs, interests, and issues; creating a greater presence for UWMC in Wausau and north central Wisconsin; and enhancing opportunities for students pursuing higher education.

This lecture series expands WIPPS programming into an area often neglected by academic institutions yet of enormous interest to the public. Its intent is to help inform the citizenry on the relationship between religious ideas, practices, and movements, and politics and the development of public policy. As a nonpartisan program, it represents a broad spectrum of perspectives drawn from diverse disciplines (history, psychology, cultural studies, political science, journalism, sociology, etc.).

The inaugural lecture in 2012, which featured Dr. Martin Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago and well-known author of more than 60 works, was well-received, establishing in its first year the lecture series’ statewide impact. Going forward, the series’ goals include expanding to a national and global framework; in this regard, Munir Jiwa, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, will be the featured speaker in 2014. Munir’s interests focus on Islam and Muslims in the West, media, Islamic aesthetics, religious pluralism, and interfaith dialogue, and his lecture will focus on contemporary Islam in the U.S, and Islam, globalization and the influence of electronic and social media on current events, such as immigration and the Arab Spring.

For more information on the program, contact jean.greenwood@uwc.edu