Letters Archive
Spring 2001, Vol. 9, No. 2 (requires Adobe Acrobat)
  • Creating the Spanish American Literary Boom: The View From the U.S.
  • An Interview with Lucius Outlaw and Arnold Rampersad
  • William Styron's Robert Penn Warren Lecture on Southern Letters Rescheduled
  • Breakfast with José Ramos-Horta
  • John Clarke to Present Inaugural Goldberg Lecture
  • Religion and Public Life: Is America God's Country?
  • Religion and Public Life: Is America God's Country?

    The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Divinity School and the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, is hosting a panel discussion entitled "Religion and Public Life: Is America God's Country?" on Friday afternoon, April 6, 2001 at the First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Avenue South. The panel will involve a variety of speakers representing diverse academic disciplines and professional backgrounds and will be open to the general public. The discussion will also be videotaped for broadcast on eighty community access stations in thirty states. The dialogue will offer an opportunity to cultivate greater public awareness of the influence of theology and religious history on American political and civic life. On Saturday, April 7, the Warren Center will host smaller seminar sessions with the visiting speakers, involving faculty members and graduate students with research interests in these areas.
    This program grows out of a belief on the part of the Warren Center's Executive Committee that a discussion of the influence of various religious beliefs on U.S. history will appeal to a broad constituency. The program will be a catalyst for bringing together faculty and graduate students representing multiple disciplines in the College of Arts and Science, as well as from the Divinity School, the Law School, the First Amendment Center, and the Nashville community. It is the hope of the Executive Committee that the program will serve as a model for annual programs on broad topics involving numerous schools in the University that will bring to campus distinguished speakers who will appeal to a large academic and public audience.
    Invited participants for the program include:
    Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, The Divinity School, the Department of Political Science, and the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago. Elshtain is a political philosopher whose task has been to show the connections between our political and ethical convictions. Her books include Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social Thought; The Family in Political Thought; Meditations on Modern Political Thought; Women and War; Democracy on Trial; Augustine and the Limits of Politics; Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life; New Wine in Old Bottles: Politics and Ethical Discourse; and Who Are We?: Critical Reflections, Hopeful Possibilities. Professor Elshtain writes widely for journals of civic opinion and lectures, both in the United States and abroad, on whether democracy will prove sufficiently robust and resilient to survive. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Chair of the Council on Civil Society; and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and the National Humanities Center.
    Floyd Flake, Senior Pastor of the 10,000 member Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens, and former U.S. Representative. In the U.S. Congress, Reverend Flake established a reputation for bipartisan, innovative initiatives to revitalize urban commercial and residential communities. In addition to sponsoring the Community Development Financial Institutions Act of 1993, Reverend Flake became one of the strongest Democratic congressional voices for parental choice in education. As a pastor, he has used his commitment for free-market principles to under take expansive commercial and residential development and to create a 500-student private school. With an annual budget of nearly $24 million, Reverend Flake's church has become one of the nation's most productive religious and urban development organizations. Pastor Flake is the author of The Way of the Bootstrapper: Nine Action Steps for Achieving Your Dreams, with an introduction by William J. Bennett.
    Albert J. Raboteau, Professor of Religion, Princeton University. Raboteau is a specialist in American religious history. His research and teaching have focused on American Catholic history and African American religious movements. He has written Slave Religion: The 'Invisible Institution' in the Antebellum South and A Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African-American Religious History; he has also co-edited African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture. He is currently co-director of a documentary history of African American religion and was a coordinator of the former Center for the Study of American Religion. He has been at Princeton since 1982; prior to that time, he held faculty posts at the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, and Yale University. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Historical Association and the American Studies Association.
    Peggy Wehmeyer, ABC News correspondent. When Peggy Wehmeyer joined ABC News in January 1994, she became the first correspondent to report for a network on religious and spiritual issues. Based in the Dallas bureau, Wehmeyer reports for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, 20/20, and Prime Time Thursday. Before joining ABC News, she had for more than ten years covered religious and social issues for the ABC affiliate in Dallas. Previously, she served as Director of Public Information for Dallas Theological Seminar, where she also studied. Wehmeyer has received numerous awards for her work, most recently two Cine Golden Eagle Awards, an International Film and Video Festival Award, a Covenant Award from the Southern Baptist Radio and Televison Commission, and a Wilbur Award from the Religion Public Relations Council.

    Letters Archive Index

    For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.

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