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Events at the McFarland Center

Spring 2023

The scheduled is still being finalized; please check back for a complete listing of events. Events are free and open to the public unless specified. Most events will be recorded and made available for public viewing on our Listen and Learn page.

Lunch Presentation: Maturing Faith, Science, and Theology

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
12:30-1:30 p.m., Hogan Suite A
Open to Holy Cross faculty, staff and students. Space is limited.

Rev. Ferenc Patsch, SJ

International Visiting Jesuit Fellow Rev. Ferenc Patsch, S.J., a Hungarian Jesuit who is professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, uses an interdisciplinary approach to suggest that each and every aspect of human knowledge is historical and, to a certain extent, subject to change, evolution, and development (which does not necessarily undermine the historical unity of Christian faith and the preservation of its depositum by the Magisterium). Focusing mainly on the examples of missiology, biblical studies and fundamental theology, he demonstrates how this maturation process is taking place, and outlines some of its practical consequences, including interreligious dialogue, world-church relationship, and transdisciplinarity.

Suffering, Resistance and Freedom: A Postcolonial Subaltern (Dalit) Study of Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Monday, February 6, 2023
4 p.m., Rehm Library
Watch the lecture»

Rev. Selva Rathinam, S.J.

Rev. Selva Rathinam, S.J., an International Visiting Jesuit Fellow who teaches Scripture at Jnana-Deepa Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Pontifical Athenaeum in Pune, India, applies concepts of the postcolonial method to interpret the text of the last Servant Song from the point of view of the Dalits, the oppressed people of India’s lowest caste. Through the “otherness” defined by Edward Said, co-founder of postcolonial studies, Fr. Rathinam interprets the resistance of the Servant before the oppressors who finally confront their past and repent. Thus, he argues, the redemptive value, he argues, lies not in the innocent suffering but in what goes on in and between oppressor and oppressed. 

Presidential Invitation to Conversation on Our Common Home

Rev. Angus Ritchie

Across the last decade, Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau and the Rev. Angus Ritchie, director of the Centre for Theology and Community and a priest in the Anglican Diocese of London, have worked to explore Pope Francis' vision for an "inclusive populism," a politics rooted in the people, to address the world's greatest challenges. To engage the College in this work, President Rougeau is inviting a group of faculty whose scholarly interest relates to these themes to join him and Fr. Ritchie in a seminar on February 8, and the whole community is invited to a public lecture the next day. 

Faculty Seminar (by invitation)
Inclusive Populism: Pope Francis and the Climate Crisis
Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The climate emergency demands co-ordinated political action. Yet distrust and polarization are growing, both within and between nations. How can we rebuild solidarity and trust, to take the action that is needed to protect our common home? Since 2013, Pope Francis has articulated a religious and social vision of “inclusive populism” that transcends the binaries of “left” and “right” and of “liberal” and “conservative." In this workshop, President Rougeau and Fr. Ritchie propose how inclusive populism can help people build relationships of solidarity at all levels—from the regeneration of their local neighborhoods to the protection of their planet.

Public Lecture
Beyond Activism: Building Broad-based Alliances to Tackle the Climate Crisis
Thursday, February 9, 2023
4 p.m., Rehm Library
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On both sides of the Atlantic, campaigns for climate justice tend to be dominated by more privileged voices. This reinforces the perception the issue is an "elite preoccupation" — a perception often cultivated by those opposed to the changes needed to address the climate crisis. In this lecture, Fr. Ritchie discusses how community organizing can help build a broader-based and more powerful movement for climate action. For over 20 years, Fr. Ritchie has worked in parishes involved in community organizing in some of England’s poorest neighborhoods. His book, "Inclusive Populism," earned praise from Pope Francis for their shared vision of popularism. Cosponsored by the Office of the President and the McFarland Center, with a special introduction by President Rougeau.

Can Robots Feel Pain? Theorizing AI from Ibn Rushd’s ‘Science of the Soul’

Monday, February 13, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library
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Sylvester Johnson

In an age of intelligent machines and human-machine synthesis (cybernetics), how might experts in the study of religion interrogate the capacity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to think, be sentient or feel pain? In this lecture, Sylvester Johnson,  founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, interprets theoretical claims about the “science of the soul” in work of Ibn Rushd (Averroës), the 12th-century Islamic scholar of Andalusia who achieved renown as the father of secularism and leverages Rushd’s distinction between sensing and knowing in order to examine contemporary, sensory-driven AI technology (particularly brain-computer-interface architectures) as a uniquely generative problem of interest for humanists and technical experts alike. One of the Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity.

Evil and Sin in African Traditional Religion and Christian Revelation

Tuesday, February 14, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library
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Rev. Joachim Zoundi, SJ

International Visiting Jesuit Fellow Rev. Joachim Zoundi, S.J., a lecturer of systematic theology at Hekima University College, Nairobi, Kenya, explores the problems of sin and evil, their sources and consequences, and how they are addressed by both African Traditional Religions and Christian revelation. He evaluates the concept of Ubuntu for its communitarian appeal to maintain harmony and suggests that the Christian revelation provides a fuller response by calling on God’s grace to live in fellowship and counter evil and sin.

Vocation of the Writer Lecture: Lawrence Joseph

Thursday, February 16, 2023
7:30 p.m., Rehm Library 
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Lawrence Joseph

Described as “the most important lawyer-poet of our era,” Lawrence Joseph is the author of seven acclaimed books of poems including most recently "A Certain Clarity" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020). He is also the author of two books of prose: "Lawyerland," a non-fiction novel, and "The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose." He is professor of law emeritus at St. John’s University School of Law. Part of the Creative Writing program's Working Writers Series.

Lawrence Joseph's "A Certain Clarity" will be available for sale at the event by Bedlam Book Cafe. Cards, Venmo and Paypal accepted (no cash).

What Does It Mean to Decolonize Philosophy?

Friday, February 17, 2023
4 p.m., Rehm Library
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Lewis Gordon

Lewis Gordon, professor and head of the Department of Philosophy at UCONN-Storrs, explores five ways in which philosophy, at least as understood in its Euromodern form, is colonized. After showing, through a reflection from an East African philosopher from 4,000 years ago, that philosophy originated as a liberatory project devoted to knowing as a practice of freedom and love in a courageous relationship with reality, he concludes with recommendations for exploring the charge of 21st century philosophy. Cosponsored with Philosophy.

Heartland Catholicism: How Faith and Migration in Rural America are Reshaping Parishes and Communities

Monday, February 27, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library
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Kristy Nabhan-Warren

Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Professor, V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Iowa, spent years interviewing Iowans who work in the meatpacking industry, both native-born residents and recent migrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Drawing on her recent book, "Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland" (UNC Press, 2021), she digs deep below the stereotypes and reveals the grit and grace of a heartland that is a major global hub of migration and food production—and also, it turns out, of religion. One of the Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity.

CANCELED: Cultural and Religious Considerations in Zimbabwe's Struggle for Postcolonial Peace

 Rev. Fidelis Mukonori, S.J.

 Rev. Fidelis Mukonori, S.J.

Munya Munochiveyi, associate professor of African history at Holy Cross, leads a discussion with two Jesuits from the Zimbabwe National Elders' Forum, Rev. Fidelis Mukonori, S.J. and Rev. Tiyowoyechi Try Silungwe, S.J., on the social, religious and cultural challenges in Zimbabwe both before and after the ousting of its late President Robert Mugabe, who served as prime minister and then president from Zimbabwe’s liberation in 1980 to 2017. Fr. Mukonori was a member of the influential Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, where he helped to expose the atrocities and human rights violations of the white minority settler regime in Rhodesia in the 1970s. He played a crucial role in the peace talks that led to Zimbabwe's independence, and he served as a mediator and peace activist throughout the decades of the Mugabe regime working to bring unity and democratic rule to Zimbabwe.

How Globalization Shapes Inequality: Lessons from 40 Years of Trade Liberalizations

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library
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Nina Pavcnik

Income inequality has increased in most developed and developing countries since the 1980s. Was increased international trade between rich and emerging economies the main culprit? In this lecture, Nina Pavcnik, Niehaus Family Professor in International Studies and Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, draws on empirical evidence from a wide range of countries to discuss how trade liberalizations implemented since the 1980s shaped inequality within countries. 

Race/Religion: Ethnic Studies, Religious Studies, and the Case of Islam

Thursday, March 16, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library

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Sylvia Chan-Malik

How is race discussed in religious studies? And how is religion talked about in ethnic studies? Through a focus on Islam and Muslims in the United States, this lecture explores the intersections, evasions, omissions, and errors that occur in the study of race and religion in the two fields. Sylvia Chan-Malik, associate professor in the departments of American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, offers a brief genealogy of each field, explains the challenges confronting scholars working at these junctures, and argues for race/religion as a category of analysis across the humanities and social sciences.

Torah and Mitzvahs in Hell: What Might We Learn from the Astonishing Jewish Religious Activity in Auschwitz?

Monday, March 20, 2023
4:30 p.m., Rehm Library

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Alan Rosen

Alan Rosen, Kraft-Hiatt Scholar in Residence, is a distinguished scholar and lecturer of Holocaust literature. He has been a lecturer at Yad Vashem, and has held fellowships at the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah in Paris and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is author and editor of a number of books and collections on the Holocaust, including "The Holocaust's Jewish Calendars: Keeping Time Sacred, Making Time Holy" (Indiana University Press, 2019).

Symposium | Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Bringing the Holy Land Home logo around pieces of the Chertsey Tiles

In conjunction with the Cantor Art Gallery exhibition curated by Amanda Luyster, this symposium explores the impact that the Crusades had on medieval western Europe. The Crusades were marked both by brutal violence, much of which was directed against people who were not European (Latin) Christians, and by sustained cross-cultural encounters which, for many Europeans, affected their sense of self for centuries to come. It can be difficult to process both of these truths simultaneously, yet essential to develop this more complex and more accurate understanding of the Crusades. The symposium will be held under the auspices of the New England Medieval Consortium and is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.  View schedule and registration»

CANCELED: Make Museums Great Again: How Evangelical Christians Wage Culture Wars Through Historic Sites

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
5:30 p.m., Rehm Library

Devin Manzullo-Thomas

At first glance, history museums seem like pretty secular spaces—sites for education and tourism. But many history museums in the United States challenge the supposed divide between the “sacred” and the “secular,” including museums owned and operated by white evangelical Christians. In this talk, Devin Manzullo-Thomas,  assistant professor of American religious history at Messiah University, examines how sites like the Museum of the Bible use history to naturalize narratives of American history that privilege a certain kind of Christianity and to stir moral panics about the decline of Christian values in society.  Cosponsored with the Department of History.

CANCELED: What are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?

Maria Ressa

Journalist, author and freedom advocate Maria Ressa was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize (along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov) in recognition of her "efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." As co-founder and CEO of, a leading independent digital news organization in the Philippines, Ressa illuminates the dangers of corruption, disinformation and social media's capacity to deceive and challenges each of us to consider our personal responsibility to uphold the Truth. Originally scheduled to visit Holy Cross in Spring 2022, Ressa had to cancel after the courts denied her request to travel outside the Philippines. Previously, she had been arrested on 10 charges related to exposing the Duterte government’s corrupt practices and was convicted of cyber-libel in 2020. She is appealing her case to the Philippine Supreme Court.

Conference | Freedom, Controversy, and Respect on Campus: Advancing Liberal Arts Inquiry in Contested Times

April 18-20, 2023

Incidents involving free expression on campus are riling campus communities and pitting against each other pedagogical perspectives about whether students learn best in contexts where discussion of ideas is completely unfettered, or whether some topics and ideas make students feel under attack and inhibit opportunities for learning. How do we balance the needs of protecting our students from harmful and incendiary views and helping them confront difficult and often divisive material? How do we model respectful dialogue in the interest of intellectual inquiry? The College of the Holy Cross is convening a cohort of 30 scholars, administrators and leaders, representing a range of perspectives, disciplines and roles on campus, to clarify the challenges and imagine pedagogical responses in the classroom and across campus. This conference will help us identify the distinctive tensions facing private, liberal arts educational contexts and how best to address them in order to promote a healthy campus climate and well-educated citizenry. View the schedule and join us for Thursday's sessions»