Robert Louis Wilken

A Global History of Christianity

Friday, March 22 (6:00pm)
UVA Harrison Institute Auditorium
If you missed this lecture, watch it here.

Cosponsored by Virginia Festival of the Book, St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and the Center for Christian Study 


How did a once small, marginal, and largely invisible community in the first two centuries of its existence go on to remake the cultural, intellectual and political characteristics of the civilizations it encountered and inhabited? Beginning with the life of Jesus, Professor Wilken tells the underappreciated story of Christianity's global development over its first thousand years. This is not simply the Roman imperial coattails story of Constantine's conversion, but a much needed, fuller account that includes the early formation of Christianity's beliefs, practices and institutions, as well as Christianity's most remarkable embrace of and appeals to the Latin West, the Byzantine and Slavic East, the Middle East, Ethiopia, Nubia, Armenia, Georgia, Persia, Central Asia, India, and China.  
Robert Louis Wilken is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  He is the author, editor, and translator of numerous books and articles, including Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators (Eerdmans, 2007); The Spirit of Early Christian Thought (Yale, 2003); On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christselected writings of St. Maximus the Confessor (St. Vladimir's Press, 2003); Remembering the Christian Past (Eerdmans, 1995); The Land Called Holy (Yale, 1992); and Christians as the Romans Saw Them (Yale, 1984). 

alt"Contemplation, Prayer, Vocation"

Br. Timothy Ferrell, O.S.B.

Monastery of the Holy Cross

If you missed this lecture, here's the video.

 Aren't we all called by name to a larger purpose? Come hear how a UVA alum came to understand that his path of contemplation also included a very unexpected place: an urban Benedictine monastery in Chicago!alt

All are invited and welcomed to attend this public lecture, which will take place at 7:00pm in St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Hall,  401 Alderman Rd. (1 block from O-Hill Dining Hall).  Free evening parking available.

The St. Anselm Institute and the UVA Catholic Student Ministry are pleased to cosponsor this event.

 Fr. Peter Funk, O.S.B. 
Monastery of the Holy Cross
 "What Makes Sacred Music Sacred?"

If you missed this lecture, watch it here.
Sacred objects are 'set apart' by human agents and reserved for use in sacred contexts.  This notion of the sacred might seem to suggest that any type of music could be deemed fitting for use in the liturgy.  The Church, however, has singled out specific styles as particularly suited to worship.  Is there really something altintrinsically 'sacred' about Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony?  Or is this a kind of cultural imperialism?  Fr. Peter Funk will argue for the former, taking into account the specific rhythmic, acoustic and formal qualities of the styles recognized as 'sacred' in the Catholic tradition.  

All are invited and welcomed to attend this public lecture, which will begin at 6:30pm in Minor Hall Auditorium at the University of Virginia.

"The Problem of Suffering:
A Thomistic Defense"

Eleonore Stump
Professor of Philosophy,
St. Louis University

January 17 / 5:30pm / Minor Hall Auditorium
If you missed this lecture, here's the video.

Why do bad things--evil, heartbreaking, devastating things--happen to good (and even not so good) persons? Is it possible to defend belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God in spite of the terrible human suffering in the world? For many, these questions have been great stumbling blocks, but philosopher Eleonore Stump draws upon contemporary psychological findings and the philosophical insights of Thomas Aquinas to argue that an extended Thomistic theodicy constitutes a cogent response to the problem of suffering.

"VATICAN II: 50 Years Later"

Fr. Joseph Komonchak

Professor Emeritus of the School of Theology,
The Catholic University of America
If you missed the lecture, watch it 


altFifty years ago, on October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII opened the twenty-first Ecumenical (or universal) Council in the Church's history. Ever wonder what Vatican II was all about? Why it was called? Who attended? What was accomplished? And how its various documents not only revived and redirected the Church's thinking about both the Liturgy and its dogmatic constitution, but also how the Church views and engages the modern world? In this golden anniversary year of Vatican II, make plans now to attend this very special public lecture by one of the most highly regarded historians of Vatican II.

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Department of English
Center for American Catholic Studies
Fordham University

"St. Sinatra, Saintliness,
and the Catholic Poetic Imagination"
 If you missed this lecture, watch it here.

So what's up with that Catholic lens and vocabulary that gives poets like Dante, Hopkins, Levertov, and Milosz a particularly wide angle focus on those nearly hidden but then self-evident intersections between words and the depths of life's experiences? How is it that the world could have missed the (only now self-evident) "saintliness" of that "Hoboken hero of Eros" Frank Sinatra? 

Brad Gregory

Associate Professor of Early
Modern  European History
University of Notre Dame

"The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society"

On Thursday, April 19, the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought hosted University of Notre Dame History Professor Brad Gregory for its third Annual Robert Louis Wilken Lecture.  Before a lively and inquisitive audience, Prof. Gregory discussed his newest book The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Harvard). This vibrant and important work of intellectual history offers a grand synthesis of the West over the past five centuries, challenging its readers and the St. Anselm Institute audience to inquire why so many elements of modern intellectual and moral life deviate so widely from the sincere commitments of Catholics, Protestants and others in the West. 

Prof. Robert Louis Wilken
"The Catholic Roots of Religious Freedom"

2012 St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture
St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, 7:30pm

Robert Louis Wilken is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  Prof. Wilken initiated and nurtured the early development of the St. Anselm Institute and he remains the Chairman of its Board.  His scholarly accomplishment are extensive, widely known and highly respected.  He is the author, editor, and translator of numerous books and articles, including Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators (Eerdmans, 2007); The Spirit of Early Christian Thought (Yale, 2003); On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: selected writings of St. Maximus the Confessor (St. Vladimir's Press, 2003); Remembering the Christian Past (Eerdmans, 1995); The Land Called Holy (Yale, 1992); and Christians as the Romans Saw Them (Yale, 1984).  Prof. Wilken presently is the Rev. Robert J. Randall Professor in Christian Culture at Providence College and he also serves as chairman of the board of the Institute on Religion and Public Life.

In his public lecture, Prof. Wilken clarified that the roots of modern ideas of religious freedom are as much religious as they are political and philosophical.  In fact, the American political leaders who first championed these ideas were well aware of the religious--indeed deeply Catholic--sources supporting their views.  The greatest of these champions James Madison--who ended state support for Virginia's churches and drafted the Bill of Rights--not only recommended that a long list of these intellectual sources be included in the University of Virginia Library, but he openly spoke about “the duty which we owe to our Creator” and that religion can only be governed “by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”  Prof. Wilken's lecture explored how early Christian thinkers developed a theological understanding of religious freedom.  See the full video of this lecture: here

 Prof. Hans Joas
University of Chicago/Committee on Social Thought

Waves of Secularization:
An Alternative Explanation of "Religious Decline"

Over the last two decades, a virtual mountain of empirical evidence has convinced social scientists that the longstanding secularization thesis is untenable--i.e., the presumption that economic modernization and scientific progress leads automatically to religious decline. Abandonment of this conventional theoretical frame should make questions concerning the causes and consequences of secularization even more acute. Studies of the rise of a secular option remain important for understanding the preconditions for secularization, but they cannot explain the observable variations of this option for social organization. University of Chicago Professor Hans Joas offered a reevaluation that demonstrates that secularization is not a unitary, linear, continuous process at all. Rather, three

 "The Lost Edges of the Modern Research University: A Catholic Philosophical Critique"

Reinhard Hütter
Professor of Theology
Duke Divinity School

We attend, work at, participate in, and carry deep and enduring affinities for our universities. But why do universities exist? What purpose have they, do they, and ought they to serve? What types of good do they aim to effect? What are the best means to bring about these ends?

Clearly, each academic discipline that constitutes the modern research university is defined by and dedicated to the rigorous study of the nature of its particular objects of interest. But what is the nature of the University that houses each of these disciplines? and what is the nature of the relationship of the University to its external culture?

What could the Catholic intellectual tradition disclose about the past, present, and future of the university as a unique place and activity dedicated to the fulfillment of a more audacious universal purpose? Duke University Professor Reinhard Hütter advanced these largely unspoken but essential questions, challenging us to consider and to think through the possibility that the modern university's depth and trajectory is unwittingly and precariously insufficient to maintain itself as the foundation for or the most compelling edges of a flourishing human culture.  If you missed this fascinating talk, please view it here

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