PBK Lecture 2008: Harvey Cox
"After Fundamentalism: The Future of Religion in America and the World" by Dr. Harvey Cox, Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard University.
Dr. Harvey Cox's free, public talk - the university's 2008 Phi Beta Kappa lecture -- was held at the Speed Art Museum on October 7, 2008.
The lecture titled "After Fundamentalism: The Future of Religion in America and the World" was part of the Life of the Mind Series of public events established during the centennial of the UofL College of Arts and Sciences. Sponsors of Cox's lecture included the College of Arts and Sciences, Speed Art Museum and the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Kentucky.
Cox discussed his view that fundamentalism within Christianity, Islam and Judaism is waning, despite publicity given to extreme groups' actions and approaches. He explained why he thinks fundamentalist groups will be unsuccessful in stopping a stronger global religious resurgence.
Dr. Cox says that the most important fact about religion in the 21st century is that fundamentalism, the scourge of the 20th century, is dying. True, headlines still suggest that “fundamentalist” movements within Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the main vehicles of the present religious resurgence. But they are not. The “Christian Right” in America is in disarray. Growing numbers of Israelis are impatient with the zealous West Bank settlers. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda, holed up in the mountains of Pakistan, still pose a military threat, but are increasingly unpopular with the people. Since fundamentalist movements are strident and sometimes violent they receive lavish media attention. But they are not growing. They are rearguard actions trying, ultimately without success, to stem a much larger tide of global religious resurgence. The real question is: what is the nature of that resurgence?
About Dr. Harvey Cox
Cox is the Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard University, where he has worked since 1965. The professor's research and teaching center on the interaction of religion, culture and politics. His work explores issues including Jewish-Christian relations, global spiritual movements and theological developments in world Christianity.
His most recent book, "When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today," is one of many he has written since his book "The Secular City" became an international best-seller. Others include "Common Prayers: Faith, Family and a Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year," "Many Mansions: A Christian's Encounters with Other Faiths" and "Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century."