Independent Minds, Working Together

Fall Academy of Religion Contemplates Need to Heal a Broken World

Annual lectures series celebrates 45th year at The College of Wooster

August 15, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — What happens when institutions designed to protect and provide for the general public (e.g. government agencies, financial associations, and even religious organizations) lose sight of their fundamental mission and become oppressive, thus causing hardship and heartache for the very people they are supposed to serve?

That question and a number of others will be addressed when The College of Wooster presents its annual Fall Academy of Religion lecture series in September and October. The two-hour sessions, which are free and open to the public, include 30 minutes for questions and answers. Each session will be held in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.) on Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

“We live in a broken world whose shattered institutions perpetuate daily harm upon us, our fellow human beings, and on our natural world,” says Charles Kammer, The James F. Lincoln Professor of Religious Studies at Wooster and academic dean of the Fall Academy. “Yet, challenging dominant institutions and beliefs, offering alternatives, is hard work. Those in power who benefit from the existing systems and values are not eager to consider alternatives, yet such work is essential.”

In this series, individuals who have devoted themselves to rescuing people and repairing their lives by attempting to reform our social institutions and values, will be featured. “The speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and represent a wide range of beliefs and philosophies,” says Kammer, “yet all of them, in various ways, have found the commitment, the courage, and the hope to engage in hard, yet important and meaningful work. They will speak about the work they are doing, and will share what motivates them to engage in this work.”

The series opens on Sept. 18 when Nellika Little, a consultant in international development with a focus on Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Syria/Turkey, presents “Listening to Doubt?: Contradictions in what Compels us and Sustains us in Aid Work.”

The following week (Sept. 25), Lori Pompa, founder and director of the InsideOut Prison Exchange Program Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University, will address “Moving Beyond the Walls that Separate Us: A Prison Journey.”

On Oct. 2 , the award-winning documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a film about the women’s multi-faith nonviolent revolution in Liberia, will be shown, followed by a discussion.

On Oct. 9, Aubrie Tossmann, a partnership development specialist with Umoja Student Development Corporation, will present “This is My Story, This is My Song.”

The fifth lecture will be delivered by Kammer, who will focus on “Revolutionary Patience” on Oct. 16, and the final lecture will be given by Carroll Bogert, executive director for External Relations Human Rights Watch, who will talk about “Human Rights in the 21St Century: The Role for U.S. Leadership.”

“We invite all in attendance to use the speakers and the reflection time to explore their own deep values and commitments in the context of a broken world,” says Kammer.

Additional information about the Fall Academy of Religion is available by phone (330-263-2473) or e-mail.