2006 Religion & Philosophy Speakers

Chris Hedges
“War is a Force that Gives us Meaning”

Lebanon Valley College opened its 2006–2007 Colloquium lecture series on Democracy and Its Discontents with a lecture from a Pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent. Chris Hedges, author of War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, took a hard look at what makes war so appealing to so many in his lecture on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in Leedy Theater of LVC's Mund College Center. His talk was free and open to the public.

Although he is not a pacifist, Hedges discussed the brutality of modern war, using examples taken from his own 20 years of experience covering conflicts around the world. He acknowledged that people need to battle evil, but he cautions against blindly accepting what he calls the myths of war.

Hedges was a member of The New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper's coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He was the bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans, and worked in other foreign posts, for The New York Times from 1990 to 2005. He worked previously for The Dallas Morning News, National Public Radio and The Christian Science Monitor in Latin America and the Middle East. He has reported from over 50 countries.

A Colgate graduate, he holds a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. Hedges has taught at Columbia and New York universities, and Princeton , where he is currently a visiting lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and the Program in American Studies as well as the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow.

He has written for Foreign Affairs, Granta, Harper's, Mother Jones and The New York Review of Books. Hedges' book, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His other books are: What Every Person Should Know About War and Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America.

Jeffrey Stout
Professor of Religion,Princeton University
“The Spirit of Democracy”

Professor Jeffrey Stout of Princeton University was invited to give a lecture on “The Spirit of Democracy” as a part of the 2006-2007 college colloquium on “Democracy and its Discontents.” His lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of Religion and Philosophy. Dr. Stout is a Professor of Religion at Princeton, and is also affiliated with the departments of philosophy and politics. He is a contributing editor for the Journal of Religious Ethics. And in 2007 he served as the president of the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest learned society and professional association of teachers and research scholars.

Professor Stout’s lecture began with the observation of how the wealthiest Americans have, over the last several decades, drastically increased both their financial assets and their political power. His question was then, what resources do ordinary citizens have for turning this situation around?

As testified in his critically acclaimed book, Democracy and Tradition (Princeton, 2004), Stout believes that democracy has fallen on hard times. One of the things he thinks is threatening it is plutocracy, or rule by the wealthy. In recent years, the gap between rich and poor has widened considerably, he says. In a press release on his lecture he wrote, "The citizens of a democratic republic are supposed to have equal voice in the political process. As we drift toward plutocracy, however, big money tends to dominate, and ordinary citizens come to feel that what little voice they have in public life does not make enough difference to justify their participation. This lecture will ask where, in our day, one might look for the remaining embers of the democratic spirit and how we could make something substantial out of them."

Alan Wolfe
Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College
“The Future of the American Culture War”

In fall 2006, renowned Boston College professor, Alan Wolfe, was invited to lecture at LVC on The Future of the American Culture War.

Wolfe is a professor of political science and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. He currently chairs a task force of the American Political Science Association on Religion and Democracy in the United States. He serves on the advisory boards of Humanity in Action and the Future of American Democracy Foundation. He is also a senior fellow with the World Policy Institute at the New School University in New York. In the fall of 2004, Wolfe was the George H. W. Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Among his most recent books are: Does American Democracy Still Work? and Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What it Needs to Do to Recover It. He is the author or editor of more than ten other books, including One Nation, After All and Moral Freedom: The Search for Virtue in a World of Choice.

Wolfe attended Temple University as an undergraduate and received his doctorate in political science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. He has an honorary degree from Loyola College in Maryland and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. A contributing editor of The New Republic, The Wilson Quarterly, Commonwealth Magazine, and In Character, Wolfe writes often for those publications as well as for Commonweal, The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and other magazines and newspapers. He served as an advisor to President Clinton in preparation for his 1995 State-of-the-Union address and has lectured widely at American and European universities.