2013 Paddock Lectures
The Paddock Lectures, Nov. 6 and 7, 2013
Media, Meaning, and Ministry in the Digital Reformation
The Paddock Lectures were founded in 1880 by General Seminary benefactor George A. Jarvis and named in honor of The Rt. Rev. Benjamin Henry Paddock, Class of 1852. The Lectures have brought to General's campus a remarkable group of Anglican scholars, from William Temple to Sarah Coakley, and have become a prestigious and highly anticipated feature of GTS’ annual Alumni Gathering.
This year's lecturer was Dr. Elizabeth Drescher, PH.D. a scholar, researcher, and author of the forthcoming book Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones, as well as Tweet If You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation, and, with Keith Anderson. Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible. Dr. Drescher is a frequent contributor to the online magazine Religion Dispatches.
Her work has been highlighted by the Atlantic Monthly, the Daily Beast, the Utne Reader, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Australian Radio National, the BBC, CNN, State of Belief Radio,and other national and international news outlets.
Dr. Drescher has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards for the study of spirituality in everyday life and teaching in religion and spirituality including, most recently, a journalism fellowship from the Templeton Foundation for the Social Science Research Council’s “New Directions in the Study of Prayer” initiative.
Learn more about Elizabeth's research, writing and speaking at www.elizabethdrescher.com and follow her on Twitter @edrescherphd.
Lecture I, Nov. 6, 6:30pm: Believing Between the Lines: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (45 mins.)
At the beginning of 2012, Newsweek marked “the rise of the Nones” as one of the most significant trends defining contemporary American culture, and a fall 2013 study by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life verified this assessment with a survey that showed that one in five Americans have no religious affiliation. Importantly, Nones—people who answer “none” when asked with what religion they identify”—are generally not atheists or even agnostics. The majority are so-called “Religious Nones,” believers who do not identify or affiliate with traditional religious institutions. Further, most come from Christian backgrounds. Indeed, twenty percent of people raised in the Episcopal Church will become Nones as adults. Their spiritual lives are, thus, shaped by their background as well as by the diverse religious, antireligious, secular, and media rich culture of the United States. This talk draws upon original survey data and interviews to explore the spiritual lives of Nones as they intersect with and diverge from traditional religions.
Lecture II, Nov 7, 10:00am: The Roots of Digital Reformation: Premodern Traditions in Postmodern Practice (45 mins.)
Over the past decade, new digital media and mobile technologies have change not merely how we communicate; they have reshaped how we relate to one another, how we understand concepts such as authority and community, and how we conceive of ourselves as distinct individuals. While many have described this cultural change as “revolutionary,” it can in fact be seen as more of a “reformation”—a paradoxical return to premodern modes of living and relating that run deeply through Christian traditions. This lecture will explore the premodern “habitus” of Anglican/Episcopal tradition—spiritually integrated life practices that shape much of the enduring character of the church and that have prepared the us to engage in digitally-integrated culture in ways that were rarely possible in the broadcast age that the world is rapidly leaving behind. The lecture considers how the premodern roots of Anglican tradition, transplanted in early modern American soil, support ongoing engagement with the growing population of the religiously unaffiliated.
Lecture III, Nov. 7, 2:00pm: No Center, No Circumference: Faith & Religion in an Expanding Universe (45 mins.)
Over the last two years, NASA scientists identified more and more planets that may be habitable for earthlings. While these findings invite provocative questions on the core biblical and doctrinal claims of Christianity, this lecture will employ them primarily as metaphors for the ways in which digitally-integrated postmodern culture is itself expanding the universe of belief, spirituality, and institutional religion across geographies and generations. How, the lecture asks, can communities of faith minister in a world of dramatically expanded religious, spiritual, and epistemological boundaries? How can our understanding of the changing universe help to prepare us to be the church of the future?
From Tweet If You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation:
“The Church is at a critical juncture as it attempts to respond to dramatic cultural changes related to new mobile, digital social media. Some of those changes are wonderfully liberating, inviting creative involvement in the practice of faith and the nurturing of community by believers and seekers of all stripes around the globe. Others, such as the restructuring of concepts of privacy, self-presentation, and relationship that seem to undermine notions of interpersonal, communal, and spiritual intimacy that are at the heart of much Christian practice, feel more troubling. Threatening, even.”
Learn more at www.elizabethdrescher.com here.