“Caesar’s Rending: American Electoral Politics, Duplicity, and the Christian Conscience” Series

Join us at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evenings in October as we kick off this first series in the 2012-2013 year at the Rattlesnake Bar and Grill with the presentations beginning at 7:30 p.m.  See you there!

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Politics sometimes divides Christians, and at times has even torn the Church along the seams of political ideologies.  Yet the Church’s worldview and its political ramifications are sewn together by different threads – the authority of scripture, tradition and reason.  Is it even appropriate though to begin with Christian premises to make public policy decisions?  Or should faith having nothing to do with politics?  In this series we look at compromised loyalties, divisive denominations, and the political use of Christian theology in war and peace.  Join us as we seek a clearer understanding of the foundations Christians have used for political involvement, even while looking ahead toward the “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11: 10).

Loyalty and Treachery in the Presidential Elections

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

“Loyalty and Treachery in the Presidential Elections”

Dr. Timothy R. A. Sherratt, Professor of Political Science at Gordon College

With Election Day approaching quickly, Dr. Sherratt intends to address the polarized polity, how it came to be that way, the obstacles to bipartisanship, and the occasional inappropriateness of insisting on a bipartisan approach. Along the way, he will discuss the irony of each party’s standard-bearer being a centrist rather than an ideologue.  Dr. Sherratt will conclude by asking how the pursuit of self-interest reflected in polarized politics this election season is challenged by a biblical view of power—the Power made Perfect in Weakness. Must a Christian view of power be confined to criticism; or does it lend itself to implementation in this corner of the fallen world?

Dr. Sherratt is a Professor of Political Science at Gordon College where he teaches American politics, constitutional law and Christian political thought. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. He is the author, with Ronald P. Mahurin, of Saints as Citizens: A Guide to Public Responsibilities for Christians (Baker, 1995). Besides chapters in two books, his work has appeared in The Christian Scholar’s Review, Catholic Social Science Review and The Review of Faith and International Affairs, The Journal of Law and Religion, The Journal of Church and State, and The Evangelical Review of Society and Politics (UK). He is a regular contributor to Capital Commentary, the online journal of the Center for Public Justice (www.cpjustice.org ) based in Washington, D.C.  A cradle Anglican, he and Christine have four children and live in Rowley, MA.

Romney and Obama

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“Religious Outsiders and the American Presidency: Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, and American Civil Religion.”

Dr. Eric Baldwin, Research Associate, Harvard Business School

In the 2012 election, both men at the top of the ticket identify with religious traditions that have historically been on the margins of, and often at odds with, the mainstream of American culture.  Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have taken pains to reassure a nervous electorate that their religious backgrounds—Romney’s Mormonism and Obama’s connection to the black church—do not make them too radical, dangerous, or strange to hold the highest office in the land.  Eric’s talk will explore why and how they have done so and will ask how their efforts to downplay their distinctive religious commitments reveal what kind of religion is politically acceptable in contemporary American culture.

Eric Baldwin holds master’s degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School as well as a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Boston University.  He has been a Lecturer at Boston University and a Visiting Professor at Franklin & Marshall College, where he taught courses on World Religions and American religious history.  Eric also served as senior researcher and editorial consultant for the PBS documentary “God in America,” broadcast in 2010.  He currently works as a research associate at Harvard Business School.

War, Peace and Christian Realism

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

“War and Peace in a Tumultuous Time: Christian Realism and the Obama Doctrine”

Dr. Erik Owens, Associate Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College

President Barack Obama entered office with a promise to change the style and substance of his predecessor’s foreign policy. As his first term comes to a close, what has changed? In this talk Erik Owens identifies the key foreign policy goals and principled underpinnings of what might be called an Obama Doctrine, and examines its connection to the Christian realist tradition defined in another tumultuous era by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

Erik Owens teaches social and political ethics in the theology and international studies programs at Boston College, where he is associate director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. He received his Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Duke University.

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