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.

January 10

How can we live together? Big Questions and civil discourse
Josh Feigelson
January 17
“PATHS for PhDs: Defying the ‘Jobs Crisis’ in the Humanities”
Courtney Wiersma, PhDm, UChicagoGRAD
January 24
“Who Is Our Community? Civic Engagement at UChicago”
Brian Inman & Shaz Rasul, Office of Civic Engagement
January 31
Anne Knafl
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 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.

Scheduled dates: January 10, 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28



 April 4, 11, 18, 25; May 2, 9, 16, 23

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