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2010-2011 Archived Events

The Spirit of the Law
Religious Leader’s Roundtable on Genetic Technologies
The Meaning of Being Human in an Age of Bioethics and Reproductive Technologies
A Workshop on Religion, Medicine, and the Chaplaincy
Event featuring Paging God by Wendy Cadge
RPLP Launch Event: Faith in the Corridors of Medicine
A Workshop on Religion, Politics, and Immigration
 

The Spirit of the Law

April 11, 2011

The Houston Graduate School of Theology and the RPLP co-sponsored an evening with Sarah B. Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. Gordon discussed her most recent book, The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America with James H. Furr and Elaine Howard Ecklund in a question and answer format.

Religious Leader’s Roundtable on Genetic Technologies

March 15, 2011

Why aren't congregational leaders more involved in discussions about new reproductive technologies? Instead of speculating, the RPLP, which takes as part of its mission the facilitation of productive conversations about such issues, arranged a forum through which religious leaders could speak for themselves. In dialogue with Professor John Evans, associate professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego and author of Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate, a diverse group of community leaders, scholars, and students concluded that, for better or worse, leaders of typical American congregations have more pressing concerns and lack the time to become conversant in complex public issues. Nonetheless, the discussion enabled those present to more capably raise such issues in their own ecclesiological contexts.

The Meaning of Being Human in an Age of Bioethics and Reproductive Technologies

March 14, 2011
View the photo set »

meaning of being humanHuman reproductive technologies- like the ability to select a child for a certain sex or to tell whether a child has Down's syndrome- have changed and will continue to change how religious communities view what it means to be human. On March 14, nearly 200 people attended a discussion about these issues, during which sociology professors Elaine Howard Ecklund (Rice University) and John Evans (University of California, San Diego) addressed the opportunities and challenges associated with new reproductive technologies and their reception by religious communities. According to Evans, "The most developed ways of talking about [ethical issues] come from religion," but "physicians are given a bigger soapbox in the public sphere, [even though] they are not necessarily good judges of what the values of American society are." Evans emphasized the urgent need for informed and productive discussions of these issues, noting that "things that affect the collective should be decided by the collective' and that "if you don't like what's about to happen with the new genetic future, fifty years from now is too late." Reflecting on the productiveness of this particular discussion, Jeff Kripal, Chair of Rice University's Department of Religious Studies, remarked that "the event was one of the best examples of public scholarship that I have seen." Click here to view the video of the event.

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A Workshop on Religion, Medicine, and the Chaplaincy

March 14, 2011

John EvansJohn Evans, a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego served as a guest critic, reviewing a paper about hospital chaplains written by Wilson Will, a postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. Will's paper covers new ground, as there is almost no anthropological literature on hospital chaplains, and challenges the assumptions scholars hold about the relationship between religion and healing in medical settings. In some ways, the diversity of participants in the workshop parallels that found in urban hospitals in the United States. As Will explained, "Nowadays, you can have a Hassidic Jew, a Buddhist, and a Baptist in the same medical unit receiving treatment. Anywhere else in the world, reactions to some of those religions might be different, volatile even." Will felt that "the feedback was particularly important because it gave me a sense of what I take for granted and what different audiences want to hear more about," and that the interdisciplinary nature of the event was "critical, especially since I am trying to straddle different academic disciplines."

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Event featuring Paging God by Wendy Cadge

December 4, 2010

Paging God Wendy Cadge

Invited guests and scholars from the Houston community discussed the manuscript for the then-upcoming book, Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine by Wendy Cadge, an associate professor and sociologist of religion and medicine at Brandeis University. The book is about the formal and informal presence of religion and spirituality in hospitals, focusing in particular on the presence of religion in neonatal intensive care units. The book draws from historical and policy documents as well as more than 100 interviews she conducted with hospital chaplains, nurses, and physicians in large academic medical centers around the country. According to Cadge, "The [RPLP's] Books in Public Scholarship event was a privilege. The commentators who provided feedback on my manuscript were excellent and the book will be stronger thanks to their input."

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Religion and Public Life Launch Event: Faith in the Corridors of Medicine

December 3, 2010

Farr CurlinEven before he stepped into the room to take care of the dying young woman, Dr. Farr Curlin could feel the raw emotions and powerful tension radiating down the corridors. "The mother and the husband of the patient were in an extremely heated argument," Curlin recalled. "They were arguing about what God's will was for the patient, about trusting God's sovereignty, and how they were to understand that."

At RPLP's inaugural event, Curlin, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, drew on his experience as an active clinician caring for patients with advanced illnesses to emphasize that religion is very much a part of the world of medicine, insisting that "you just have to keep showing that religion is an issue that's on the table or just below the surface." Curlin was joined by a panel of scholars, including Dr. Wendy Cadge, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University, who together discussed the benefits and challenges associated with the formal and informal presence of religion and spirituality in medical contexts. Held at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, the event attracted a large public audience, including scholars of religion, medical professionals, policymakers, students, and other community members. Following the event, Cadge noted how impressed she was by the range of attendees "from so many different disciplines gathering around areas of shared concern." Separately, Curlin delivered a grand rounds presentation to medical professionals at Methodist Hospital in Houston's medical center, discussing his research on spirituality and ethics in medicine. Click for the Baker Institute event webcast.

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A Workshop on Religion, Politics, and Immigration

October 18, 2010

The first paper workshop event hosted guest critic Margarita Mooney, an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty fellow in the Carolina Population Center at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mooney assisted in reviewing a paper written by Rice University sociologist Michael O. Emerson about religion, immigration, and politics based on the Religion, Immigration, Civic Engagement (RICE) study.

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