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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Prophecy without Contempt: A Conversation about Religion, Identity, and Exclusion in Our New Political Era

Special Event

Prophecy with Contempt book cover

Friday, April 7, 2017
1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. • Reception to follow.
McMullen Museum of Art, 2101 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston College

Featuring Cathleen Kaveny, Rowan Williams, Charles Taylor, and Jonathan Lear

about the event

Authors and scholars gather together to engage in religious discourse. Participants offer up their insights on the challenges of facilitating fruitful dialogue across religious and political divides of contemporary society. Reaching beyond the stretches of religion, participants/panelists are asked to reflecton on the relationship of Trump, Brexit, political otherness, alienation, and religious violence, and extremist rhetoric, among other thoughts gathered from their research and expertise.


program schedule


1:30 p.m.   Introduction & Panelist Presentations

3:15 p.m.   Break

3:30 p.m.   Author Presentation by Cathleen Kaveny

3:45 p.m.   Discussion

5:00 p.m.   Reception


about the speakers


Cathleen Kaveny

Cathleen Kaveny joined the Boston College faculty in January 2014 as the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor, the first role of its at kind at Boston College, which has appointments in the Theology department and Law School.

Professor Kaveny has published over a hundred articles and essays in journals and books specializing in law, ethics, and medical ethics. She serves on the masthead of Commonwealth as a regular columnist. Her book, Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society, was published by Georgetown University Press in 2012. It won a first place award in the category of “Faithful Citizenship” from the Catholic Press Association. She is currently completing a book entitled Prophecy without Contempt: An Ethics of Religious Rhetoric in the Public Square.

Kaveny has served on a number of editorial boards including The American Journal of Jurisprudence, The Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Law and Religion, and The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. She has been a visiting professor at Princeton University, Yale University and Georgetown University, and a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago’s Martin Marty Center. From 1995 until 2013 she taught law and theology at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law.

She is also the president of the Society of Christian Ethics, the major professional society for scholars of Christian ethics and moral theology in North America. It meets annually in conjunction with the Society of Jewish Ethics and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.


Jonathan Lear

Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy. He trained in Philosophy at Cambridge University and The Rockefeller University where he received his Ph.D. in 1978. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. He also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. His books include: Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980), Aristotle: the desire to understand (1988), Love and its place in nature: a philosophical interpretation of Freudian psychoanalysis (1990), Open minded: working out the logic of the soul (1998), Happiness, death and the remainder of life (2000), Therapeutic action: an earnest plea for irony (2003), and Freud (2005). His most recent books is A Case for Irony (Harvard University Press, 2011). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2014, he was appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.


Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is one of the most important thinkers Canada has produced. His writings have been translated into 20 languages, and have covered a range of subjects that include artificial intelligence, language, social behaviour, morality and multiculturalism. A pupil of Isaiah Berlin at Oxford, Taylor taught at McGill from 1961 to 1997, and is now a professor emeritus. A public intellectual, Taylor never hesitated to make his ideas known - he ran in three federal elections, most famously against Pierre Trudeau in 1965.

Sources of the Self, his 1989 book, achieved a wide general readership. His former mentor, Isaiah Berlin, said of him, “whatever one may think of his central beliefs, [they] cannot fail to broaden the outlook of anyone who reads his works or listens to his lectures or, indeed, talks to him.”

In 2003, Taylor was awarded the first Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Gold Medal. In 2007, he was again in the public eye, this time for three different accomplishments: he received the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities, the world’s largest annual monetary award for an individual; he joined forces with sociologist Gérard Bouchard to chair the high-profile Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, the Quebec government’s response to a string of controversies surrounding the “reasonable accommodation” of religious groups; and he published A Secular Age: a study of the changing place of religion in our societies, which the New York Times hailed as “a work of stupendous breadth and erudition. ”

In November 2008, Taylor became the first Canadian to win Japan’s Kyoto Prize for arts and philosophy, an achievement marked by a ten-day lecture tour of Japan. He is also a member of the Order of Canada. Today, Taylor continues to write and lecture extensively, especially on multiculturalism and secular society.


Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams is the 104th Archebishop of Cantebury currently serving as Master at Magdelene College at University of Cambridge. Dr. Williams' career began as a lecturer at Mirfield (1975-1977). He later returned to Cambridge as Tutor and Director of Studies at Westcott House. After ordination in Ely Cathedral, and serving as Honorary Assistant Priest at St George's Chesterton, he was appointed to a University lectureship in Divinity. In 1984 he was elected a Fellow and Dean of Clare College. During his time at Clare he was arrested and fined for singing psalms as part of the CND protest at Lakenheath air-base. Then, still only 36, it was back to Oxford as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity for six years, before becoming Bishop of Monmouth, and, from 2000, Archbishop of Wales.

Williams was awarded the Oxford higher degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and an honorary DCL degree in 2005; Cambridge followed in 2006 with an honorary DD. He holds honorary doctorates from over a dozen universities, from Durham to K U Leuven, Toronto to Bonn. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Dr. Williams is a noted poet and translator of poetry, and, apart from Welsh, speaks or reads nine other languages. He learned Russian in-order to read the works of Dostoevsky in the original. This led to a book; he has also published studies of Arius, Teresa of Avila, and Sergii Bulgakov, together with writings on a wide range of theological, historical and political themes.