Frieze in the U.S. Supreme Court building depicting religious leaders and lawgivers

Wickenden Lectures

In 1927, Arthur C. Wickenden became the founding chair of what was then called the Department of Religion at Miami University--one of the two oldest departments devoted to the study of religion at an American state-supported university.  (The other was at the University of Iowa.) The Arthur C. Wickenden Lectures were founded in 1970 by Miami graduate Rev. Walter Simmons and members of the Wickenden family, in commemoration of Professor Wickenden’s life and in celebration of the human spirit.

This annual lecture series is free and open to the public.

2017-2018 speaker

Rhys H. WilliamsRhys H. Williams
Loyola University Chicago
"Religion in Urban America: Race, Immigration, and New Forms of Faith in U.S. Cities"

April 12, 2018 (Thursday)
4:30 p.m.
319 Kreger Hall

What does it mean to speak of "urban religion" in the 21st-century United States? As the US becomes more religiously diverse, older categories of religious affiliation are being challenged by new ways of believing, practicing, and belonging. New immigrants have generated innovation and hybridity in religious traditions that have historically been considered "American." After reviewing how race and immigration have shaped urban religion in the past, Professor Williams will examine the continuities and potential changes facing contemporary American society.

Dr. Williams is a professor of sociology at Loyola University Chicago and director of the McNamara Center for the Social Study of Religion. He has studied the involvement of religious groups in urban politics, as well as the ways in which urban settings affect religion and its public roles. With two collaborators, he recently published Religion and Progressive Activism (New York UP, 2017).

Past speakers


John H. Evans
University of California, San Diego

  • "The Eclipse of the Sacred Human: Are Human Rights under Threat from Medical Science?"


John Corrigan
Florida State University

  • "Why Christians in America Today Feel Empty and Why They Like It That Way"


Dale Jamieson
New York University

  • "Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed and What It Means for Our Future"


Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
Indiana University-Bloomington

  • "The World That Smith Made: Advocating for Religion in the U.S. Today"
  • "EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor: Constitutionalizing 'The Church'"


Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Duke University

  • "Science and Religion, De-simplified"
  • "Angles on Relativism: Historical, Anthropological, Political, and Affective"


David Carrasco
Harvard Divinity School

  • "Latinos Remaking America: Baseball, Immigration, and Imagination"
  • "Sacred Violence and the Conquest of Mexico: Aztec Sacrifice and Spanish Massacres--All in the Names of Gods"


Amanda Porterfield
Florida State University

  • "Doubt: The Engine of American Political and Religious Formation, 1798-1812"


Peter Gottschalk
Wesleyan University

  • "The Science of Religion: The Quest to Know India through Scientism"
  • "Islamophobia: What Cartoons Say about How We View Islam"


Michael Sells
University of Chicago

  • "Translating the Qur’an"
  • "Pilgrimage and War"


Randall Balmer
Columbia University

  • "Wading into Troubled Waters: The Betrayal of the Religious Right"


Paul B. Courtright
Emory University

  • "Where is the Religion in the Classroom? Scholars and Practitioners in a Multicultural Context"


William LaFleur
University of Pennsylvania

  • "Informed Dissent: Why Japanese and Germans Want Brakes Put on the Biotech Juggernaut"
  • "Therapy vs. Purity: Medicine, Religion and Japan’s Dilemma"


Ariel Glucklick
Georgetown University

  • "The Science of Religious Consciousness: The Case of Pain"
  • "The Case of Illumination: Seeing the Sacred Light"


John Dominic Crossan
DePaul University


Alan Wolfe
Boston College

  • "Religious Traditions in a Non-Traditional World"
  • "The Disappearance of Doctrine from American Religion"


Lawrence E. Sullivan
Harvard Divinity School

  • "Stewards of the Sacred: Museums Communities and Religions in Democratic Society"
  • "Doing Globalization Justice: Religion in the Global Economy"


John Collins
University of Chicago

  • "Apocalypse and Politics in the Ancient World"

Paul Boyer
University of Wisconsin

  • "Apocalypse and Politics in the Modern World"


Daniel Walker Howe
Rhodes Professor of American History, University of Oxford

  • "Church, State, and Education in Antebellum America"


Wendy Doniger
University of Chicago Divinity School

  • "The Many Voices of Political Myths"
  • "The Man Who Committed Adultery with His Own Wife: Sexual Masquerades in World Theology"


Robert B. Alter
University of California at Berkeley

  • "The Living Language of Genesis"
  • "The Double Canonicity of the Hebrew Bible"


Jeremy Adams
Southern Methodist University

  • "Is Religion in the West Exceptional? Two Case Studies"


Stephen J. Stein
Indiana University

  • "Shaker Religion and Life in 19th-Century America"


Abraham Peck
Hebrew Union College

Charles Winquist
Syracuse University

  • "The Holocaust: The Reality and Banality of Evil"


James M. Robinson
Claremont Graduate School

  • "The Jesus of Q as a Liberation Theologian"
  • "The Archaic Primitive Christianity of Q"


Frank Moore Cross
Harvard University

  • "The Redemption of Nature"
  • "Kinship and Covenant in Ancient Israel"


Charles Long
Syracuse University

Robert Segal
Louisiana State University

  • Forum: "What is the Meaning of Religion?"


Diana L. Eck
Harvard University

  • "World Religions at the Crossroads: Fundamentalism or Pluralism"
  • "Living Myth: The Landscape of Hindu Pilgrimage"


Mahmoud Ayoub
University of Toronto

  • "Martyrdom and Suffering in  Shiite Ethos"
  • "The Role of the Qur’an in Muslim Society"


Wayne A. Meeks
Yale University

  • "The Origin of Christianity: A New Look at an Old Puzzle"
  • "Jesus and the Other Messiahs"
  • "Christianity and the Other Cults"


Frank E. Reynolds
University of Chicago

  • "The Humanities and the Study of Religion: The Challenge of Pluralism"
  • "Reconstructing Liberal Education: Is It Worth the Effort?"
  • "Reconstructing Religious Studies: Problems and Possibilities"


Raymond E. Brown
Union Theological Seminary (New York)

  • "The Theology of the Gospel of  John: The Most Adventuresome in the New Testament"
  • "Differences Among Early Christian Preachers of the Gospel"
  • "The Beginnings of the Church of Rome"


John F. Wilson
Princeton University

  • "New Religions in American Culture"
  • "The Religious Dynamics of  American Society"
  • "Religion and Innovation in American Society"


Marvin Pope
Yale University

  • "Solomon’s Sublime Song and the Great Goddess"
  • "Eros/Thanatos: The Dead as Bride and Groom"


Annemarie Schimmel
Harvard University and the University of Bonn

  • "The Contribution of Sufism to Islamic Culture"
  • "The Suffering of Al-Hallaj, Martyr of Mystic Love"


Thorkild Jacobsen
Harvard University

  • "The Wedding and Death of Tammuz"
  • "Lament for Lost Cities"


James F. Childress
University of Virginia

  • "Who Should Decide? Medical Paternalism and Patient Autonomy"
  • "Ethical Issues in Biomedical Technology"


Shemaryahu Talmon
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • "The State of Higher Education in Israel Today"
  • "Martin Buber’s Utopianism in Relation to Kibbutzim"


Martin E. Marty
University of Chicago

  • "Impulses in the American Religious Experience"
  • "The Hunger for Wholeness"
  • "The Apostle for Freedom"


Helmet Koester
Harvard University

  • "Views of Jesus in Early Christianity"
  • "Early Christian Sites in Macedonia and Greece"


Huston Smith
Syracuse University

  • "The Human Import of Science"
  • "America as a Mission Field"


Manfred H. Vogel
Northwestern University

  • "Who is a Jew?"
  • "A Theology of the State of Israel"


Theme: "The Contemporaneity of the Past in American Religious Thought"

Sydney E. Ahlstrom
Yale University

  • "Romanticism as a Religious Revolution: From Rousseau to Martin Luther King"

William A. Clebsch
Stanford University

  • "Authority and Assurance: From Puritanism to the New Protest"


Joseph Fletcher
University of Virginia

  • "The New Morality: An Ethical Breakthrough"
  • "Biocrats: Technocrats in Biology and Medicine Have Taken Over"