Wednesday Lunch

Wednesday is a day of community gathering at the Divinity School. Join us!

 Wednesday Lunch is a Divinity School tradition started many decades ago.  At noon on Wednesdays when the quarter is in session a delicious vegetarian meal is made in the Swift Hall kitchen by our student chefs and lunch crew.  Once the three-course meal has reached dessert  there is a talk  – by a University faculty member, a representative of a community organization, an author, or a guest from further afield. All are welcome (you do not have to be affiliated with the Divinity School or even the University).  Cost is just $5.  Sign up in advance: divinitylunch@gmail.com

Sometimes these talks focus on various aspects of religion in public life or the academic study of religion, but topics have addressed everything from halal cooking to the germ biome to birds in ancient Egypt to language loss in Siberia to empathy in rats.  Sit at any table and join the conversation: the programs provide a unique opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to engage one another.

Once a quarter we offer a Dean's Forum, which invites a faculty member to discuss one of his or her recent works, with formal response from several Divinity School colleagues.

Lunch itself is a vegetarian meal (a vegan option is available by prior request) and typically includes bread, salad, a main course, dessert, and drinks. Wednesday lunches take place from 12 noon to 1:15 pm in Swift Common Room, and cost $5 at the door. Email to reserve your space. We have a very limited number of extra spaces available for each lunch, but you are welcome to take your chances as a walk-in.

April 11: Rachel Bronson, President and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists engages science leaders, policy makers, and the interested public on the topics of nuclear weapons and disarmament, climate change, and emerging technologies. The Bulletin is an independent, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization. As CEO and President, Bronson oversees the publishing programs, the management of the Doomsday Clock, and a growing set of activities around nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change and emerging technologies. Before joining the Bulletin, she served for eight years at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in a number of capacities including: vice president of studies, vice president of programs and studies, and senior fellow, global energy. She also taught "Global Energy" as an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management.

April 18: Dr. Lainie Ross, MD, PhD:  "When Altruism Goes Awry: Living Kidney Donors in End Stage Renal Disease"

Dr. Lainie Ross is the Carolyn and Matthew Bucksbaum Professor of Clinical Medical Ethics; Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, Surgery and The College; Associate Director, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics; and Co-Director, Institute for Translational Medicine at The University of Chicago. 

Dr. Ross is a frequent lecturer at national and international conferences, where she addresses ethical controversies in medical practice and research. She has written more than 100 research articles on ethical and policy issues in organ transplantation, genetic testing, pediatrics, and human subjects protections. Currently, Dr. Ross serves on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) and as the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Bioethics Executive Committee.

April 25: This lunch has been postponed, date TBD, until Fall of 2018. 

Tony Banout, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Interfaith Youth Core

Tony Banout serves as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, nurturing IFYC's philanthropic partnerships, leading a team responsible for revenue, and stewarding the Board of Directors. He has over 15 years of social sector leadership experience in fields such as human services, civil rights, and health care. Tony holds a Ph.D. in Religion from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago for a dissertation treating democracy and religious freedom. He also engaged Islamic Studies and Arabic, and was a Provost Dissertation fellow and junior fellow of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. His B.A. is in Business from St. John's University, where he developed a love for business strategy and found that the Vincentians of the Catholic tradition nourished his roots in the Coptic Orthodox faith of his birth, while shaping his belief in the socially transformative power of religion.

May 2: Steve Edwards of WBEZ Chicago on "The Art of Listening – and Questioning"

Steve Edwards, vice president and chief content officer at WBEZ, has spent nearly 20 years as an award-winning journalist, producer and program host. Covering everything from politics to pop culture, his work has appeared on BBC, Bloomberg News, PBS and numerous public radio stations around the United States.  

Edwards worked at WBEZ Chicago for 14 years before leaving in 2012 to join the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. During his first tenure at WBEZ, he served as the host of two acclaimed daily news and culture programs, “The Afternoon Shift” and “Eight Forty-Eight.” He also led the station’s digital and multimedia content efforts, hosted a weekly political show and was the correspondent for a BBC World Service documentary on the culture of political corruption in Chicago. As Executive Director of the Institute of Politics, Edwards oversaw all programming and operational duties, including its acclaimed public event series, professional fellowships, career and civic engagement programs, and the “The Axe Files” podcast in partnership with former presidential advisor David Axelrod and CNN. 

May 23: Elizabeth Davenport, Dean of Rockefeller Chapel: "Then the snake said to the woman ..."

May 30: Our annual indoor/outdoor bar-be-que (weather permitting) and music from "Love, Unfortunate" featuring Div School students Jesse Aditya, Miriam Attia, Clay Lemar, Joel Swanson, Lydia Thornton, and Zach Ralston.

January 10 Brian Inman & Shaz Rasul, Office of Civic Engagement: "Civic Engagement at UChicago”

January 17 Courtney Wiersema, PhD, UChicagoGRAD: “PATHS for PhDs: Defying the ‘Jobs Crisis’ in the Humanities”
January 24 Tabitha Isner: “Running for Congress in Alabama as a Minister and a Democrat” 

Rev. Tabitha Isner, MDiv'09, is a dual degree graduate (she also holds an MPP from the Harris School of Public Policy). She has announced a pollitical campaign for Alabama's 2nd Congressional District. Isner lives in Montgomery, AL, and currently works in the early childhood policy field. 

January 31 Anne Knafl, Bibliographer for Religion, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago Library
How I Became a “Renegade Bibliographer”
Anne K. Knafl is the Bibliographer for Religion, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago Library. In this role, she manages the Library's collections in Religion, Philosophy and Jewish Studies, and provides research support to faculty, students, and staff in these areas. Anne will discuss her attempts over the past year to use exhibit spaces in the Library to respond to national trends and events, such as the rise of the number and prominence of hate groups in the U.S. in 2017.
Anne is a graduate of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where she earned her Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and A.M. in Religious Studies, and of Macalester College, with a B.A. in Religion and Anthropology. Her publications include, Forming God: Divine Anthropomorphism in the Pentateuch (Eisenbrauns, 2014). Anne is a Chicago native who lives in Bridgeport with her husband, daughter, son, two cats, and two fish.
February 7 “Envisioning the Future of American Religious Leadership”: with Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core; Divinity School Dean and Margaret E. Burton Professor Laurie Zoloth, and Divinity School Dean of Students Josh Feigelson.

Eboo Patel is an author, speaker, educator and interfaith leader. He founded Interfaith Youth Core on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape. For over 15 years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author of Acts of FaithSacred Ground and Interfaith Leadership: A Primer. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. These days, Eboo spends most of his time on the road meeting students, educators, and community leaders to talk about the complex landscape of religious diversity and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century.

February 14 Joshua Feigelson, Dean of Students: "Asking Bigger Questions"

How do the questions we ask shape the conversations we have, the learning we do, and the communities we build? The answer is: pretty powerfully. Before coming the Divinity School, Dean of Students Joshua Feigelson was Founder and Executive Director of Ask Big Questions, a project that has helped over 300,000 people around the world to shape questions that lead to richer reflection, connection, and community. In this Wednesday Lunch talk, Dean Feigelson will introduce participants to some of the key elements of the Ask Big Questions approach to question design.

February 21 Shoshanah Conover: "Restorative Justice"

A c onversation with Rabbi Shoshanah Conover of Temple Sholom of Chicago on the power of the philosophy, principles, and practices of Restorative Justice to transform community. 

Rabbi Shoshanah Conover is an associate rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her love of the Jewish people and Jewish texts as well as a strong commitment to social justice led her to rabbinical school. Rabbi Conover’s responsibilities at Temple Sholom of Chicago reflect her passions: serving as pastoral counselor, learning and teaching inspiring (and challenging) texts, leading dynamic and engaging spiritual experiences, and finding ways to improve our world through the guidelines of our faith. A Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and is a leader in the pioneering work of the Central Conference of American Reform Rabbis’ Rabbis Organizing Rabbis, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis as well as the Union of Reform Judaism’s Commission on Social Action. She is a vice-chair of Chicago’s Jewish Community Relations Council and serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Council of Chicago Jewish Day School.
February 28 : Günter Thomas on "Realistic Eschatology among a Plurality of Counter-Worlds". 

Günter Thomas is Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany. He works primarily in 20th century Protestant thought, constructive theology, eschatology, theological and medical anthropology, and in the field of religion and media. His key interest is interdisciplinary exchange between theological concepts and other distinct disciplinary discourses.

Today's lunch will be a presentation from the theological workbench of a current research and writing project. It will unfold the search for criteria of a realistic eschatology both with respect to theology itself and our cultural environments. In addition the presentation will outline a way of doing systematic theology that cuts accross two powerful alternatives: the classical liberal search for intelligibility through translation as well as the more recent search for coherence in analytical theology.



October 4: Laurie Zoloth, Dean and Margaret E. Burton Professor of Religion, will open the 2017-2018 Wednesday Lunch year. 

October 11: Matthew Epperson, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, on the Smart Decarceration InitiativeThe Initiative aims to build societal capacity to reduce incarceration rates in ways that are effective, sustainable and socially just. Matthew Epperson is a leading expert in studying a national trend towards reducing the time that people who are  imprisoned serve. The movement, called decarceration, tries to replace incarceration with other choices. He is the coeditor of Smart Decarceration: Achieving Criminal Justice Transformation in the 21st Century.

Smart Decarceration Initiative's second national conference, Tools and Tactics: Promising Solutions to Advance the Era of Smart Decarceration, will be held on November 2-4, 2017, at the University of Chicago.


October 18: Public art on the UChicago Campus: A Nonwalking Tour. Public art on campus is a fascinating, spontaneous experience, with some sculptures boldly claiming open spaces and others tucked unexpectedly between buildings. UChicagoArts offers a one-hour tour covering a small sample of the stunning works that have helped shape UChicago's intellectual and cultural life for decades. But today, you can take a modified version of the tour – over Lunch! Cassandra Dunn and Nika Levando from UChicagoArts will join us. 


October 25: Rev. Brian Sauder, Executive Director of Faith in Place, speaking. Faith in Place empowers Illinois people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth, providing resources to educate, connect, and advocate for healthier communities. Since 1999, Faith in Place has worked with over 1,000 houses of worship throughout Illinois to protect our common land, water, and air. Rev. Sauder, who has a BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences as well as an MA and MBA, is ordained by the Mennonite Church USA. He is also an Adjunct Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary, serves on the Board of the Illinois Environmental Council, and his work has been recognized as a 2012 award recipient of the University of Illinois's Business School's Community Scholar and as a 2013 Central IL Business 40 Under 40 winner. 
November 1: 
"Engineering Solutions to Injustice," by Stacy Lindau.  Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MAPP is an expert in engineering solutions to injustice with the patients and communities she serves. A tenured professor and practicing gynecologist, she shines light on the “unvisible” – especially the problems related to human sexuality, poverty and aging that we don’t see because of our biases. Stacy’s innovations include the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, the nation’s first comprehensive study of sexuality among middle age and older adults in the U.S., the Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine for Women and Girls with Cancer, and Feed1st, a hospital-based service and research program to mitigate food insecurity. In 2014, Stacy founded NowPow, LLC, a social enterprise IT company, and MAPSCorps, 501c3, a community asset mapping organization designed to cultivate scientific minds, healthy people and invested citizens from the assets of our communities. Catalyzed by a 2012-2015 Health Care Innovation Award from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, these organizations close the information gap about vital community resources while creating meaningful jobs, especially for youth. 
November 8: Cynthia Bathurst, Executive Director of Safe Humane Chicago, speaking. Creating safe and humane communities by inspiring positive relationships between people and animals, Safe Humane's community-based programs provide education and training, early intervention, advocacy and access to needed resources for people and animals in disadvantaged circumstances. Programs include court advocacy and court-case dogs.
During a 25-year-long career in mathematics consulting, Bathurst was led to community policing and organizing, prompted by crime and violence in Chicago communities. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Alabama and a PhD at The University of Iowa. Cynthia also serves an advisor on the National Canine Research Council and is a member of Chicago’s Commission on Animal Care and Control. Cynthia considers herself the special guardian of every dog or cat who is a Safe Humane Ambassador and from the Court Case Animals Program.

November 15
Jeanne Bishopprominent advocate for gun violence prevention, abolition of the death penalty, exoneration of the innocent and the role of faith in the debate over executions, speaking.  Ms. Bishop defends the indigent as a Cook County Public Defender and is the author of Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer (Westminster John Knox Press 2015).

November 22: NO LUNCH

November 29
Dean's Forum Lunch featuring Wendy Doniger's recent work, The Ring of Truth and Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry . The book explores mythologies behind women, jewelry, and sex.

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions; her research and teaching interests revolve around Hinduism and mythology. Her courses in mythology address themes in cross-cultural expanses, such as death, dreams, evil, horses, sex, and women; her courses in Hinduism cover a broad spectrum that, in addition to mythology, considers literature, law, gender, and zoology. She has published over forty books, including seventeen interpretive works – Siva The Erotic Ascetic; The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology; Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts; The Hindus: An Alternative History; On Hinduism; Redeeming the Kamasutra; Against Dharma:  Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics (the 2014 Terry Lectures at Yale), and many more. Among her translations are three Penguin Classics––Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook, Translated from the Sanskrit; The Rig Veda: An Anthology, 108 Hymns Translated from the Sanskrit; and The Laws of Manu (with Brian K. Smith)—a new translation of the Kamasutra (with Sudhir Kakar), and Hinduism, for the Norton Anthology of World Religions. In progress are Memoirs of a Jewish Girlhood (the 2015 Mandel Lectures at Brandeis); The Mythology of Horses in India; and a novel, Horses for Lovers, Dogs for Husbands