Cavanaugh to deliver Phipps Lecture


ELKINS — Dr. William T. Cavanaugh, director of Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and a professor of Catholic Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, will deliver the William E. Phipps Religion & Philosophy Interdisciplinary Lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday in The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum in Myles Center for the Arts on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.

His talk is titled “Does Religion Promote Violence?”

The lecture is free and open to the public. Time will be allotted for questions from the audience and a reception will take place afterward.

Cavanaugh’s presentation challenges the commonly received categories of “religious” and “secular” and questions the modern assumption that the former necessarily leads to division and violence while only the latter can promote peace.

Demonstrating that religion can rarely be identified as a unique cause in acts of violence, Cavanaugh argues that there is no universal category of religion which is not influenced by culture and time. Finally, Cavanaugh shows the dangers of the myth of religious violence, legitimating governmental violence and further separating “us” from “them.”

“Dr. Cavanaugh is one of the foremost theologians and creative scholarly minds of our time, and D&E is very fortunate to have him,” said Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy Dr. Bryan Wagoner, who serves on the Phipps Lectureship Committee. “His work on political theory, free will, consumerism, and religion and violence consistently places him at the cutting edge of scholarship in several arenas.

“His work is historically grounded, theoretically nuanced and theologically rich. Cavanaugh’s ground-breaking work on the presumed intersection of religion and violence, the subject of this year’s Phipps Lecture, has brilliantly undermined a substantial body of scholarship on secularism, just war and terrorism, pushing all of us to think more critically.”

Cavanaugh received a Bachelor fo Arts in theology from Notre Dame in 1984, and an Master of Arts from Cambridge University in 1987. After working as a lay associate with the Holy Cross order in a poor area of Santiago, Chile, he worked at the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the Notre Dame Law School.

He then studied at Duke University, where he received a Ph.D. in religion in 1996.

He has taught at the University of St. Thomas since 1995 and at DePaul University since 2010. His areas of specialization are in political theology, economic ethics and ecclesiology.

With a special research interest in the social implications of traditional Catholic beliefs and practices, Cavanaugh has authored several books including “Torture and Eucharist,” “Migrations of the Holy: Theologies of State and Church,” “The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict” and “Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire.” His books and many articles have been published in 10 languages.

Established in 1995, the Phipps Lectureship brings accomplished scholars from a wide range of backgrounds to campus to provide opportunities for sharing ideas and experiences in religion, philosophy and related disciplines.

Dedicated to continuing Dr. Phipps’s legacy of scholarship, inquiry and the candid discussion of ideas, the lectureship connects students and the public with leading scholars through classroom visits, small group meetings and an annual free public lecture.