05/04: Comparative Philosophy of Death and Dying

  • Tim Knepper, Professor of Philosophy, Drake University
  • Lucy Bregman, Professor of Religion, Temple University
  • Mary Gottschalk, Adjunct Professor of Religion, Drake University
  • Allen Zagoren, Associate Professor of Public Administration, Drake University

May 4, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Cowles Reading Room, Cowles Library

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For the final event of its 2015-2017 series on death and dying, four scholars will offer their comparative philosophical reflections about death and dying in the religions of the world, especially with regard to the influence of the medicalization of death on traditional theologies and rituals.

  • Timothy Knepper is a professor of philosophy at Drake University, where he directs The Comparison Project, a public program in global, comparative religion and local, lived religion.
  • Lucy Bregman is a profess of religion at Temple University and is the author of several books on death and dying, including Death in the Midst of Life, Beyond Silence and Denial, and Preaching Death.
  • Mary Gottschalk has served as an adjunct instructor at Drake University for the last two years, teaching courses on death and dying.
  • Dr. Allen Zagoren is Associate Professor of Public Administration in the College of Business and Public Administration at Drake University, where he teaches in the areas of health education in health policy and bio-ethics.

 

 

            

"To Die in Peace": Negotiating Advance Directives in a Navajo Context

Michelene Pesantubbee, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, University of Iowa

Thursday, March 23, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Health care providers in IHS facilities and hospitals have long been reluctant to raise end-of-life issues with Native American patients for fear of violating tribal customs. Dr. Pesantubbee will discuss Navajo beliefs associated with illness and death and how those ideas informed Navajo refusal to consider advance directives. She will conclude with a summary of how the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital staff worked with Navajo social workers to devise a plan that resulted in extraordinary success rates in obtaining Navajo end-of-life directives.

Michelene Pesantubbee is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa. She specializes in Native American religious traditions especially Native American women and religious change and Native American religious movements. She is the author of Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World published by the University of New Mexico Press.

Listen to the audio of the lecture below:

Brain Death; Islamic Theological Responses to Medicalized Dying

Aasim Padela, Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine, University of Chicago

Thursday, March 2, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Dr. Aasim Padela’s lecture will describe critical Islamic theological concepts and relevant juridical rulings pertaining to end-of-life healthcare. Specifically, it will examine ethico-legal perspectives on withdrawal and withholding of life support and brain death, and cover how notions about moral obligations and preservation of human dignity inform viewpoints on death and dying.

Dr. Aasim Padela is the Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Padela is a clinician-researcher and bioethicist whose scholarship lies at the intersection of community health and religion. He has served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar from 2008–2011, a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies in 2010, and a Templeton Foundation Scholar from 2013–2015.

Video of the lecture

Buddhism and The Dilemmas of Death

Damien Keown, Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Read by and response by Gereon Kopf, Professor of Religion, Luther College

Thursday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Prof. Keown’s lecture explores the ramifications of the “brain death” criterion of death for Buddhism. Keown suggests that, from a Buddhist perspective, brain death is too uncertain a basis on which to declare the death of a human being. Reviewing attitudes to brain death in Japan and Thailand, Keown concludes that Buddhism does not regard the loss of function in the brain as equivalent to human death.

Damien Keown is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His main research interests are theoretical and applied aspects of Buddhist ethics, with particular reference to contemporary issues. He is the author of many books and articles including The Nature of Buddhist Ethics (Palgrave, 2001), Buddhism and Bioethics (Palgrave 2001), Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2000), Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006), and the Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford, 2003).

Copy of the Keown Lecture

12/8: Community Interfaith Dialogue

Moderator:Norma Hirsch
  • Norma Hirsch, Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University
Panelists:
  • Younes Ali Younes, imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines
  • Ksenija Milinkovic, presbitera of St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church
  • Ajahn Jackson and Ajahn Somphan, Wat Phothisomphan

Thursday, December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Iles Funeral Homes, Dunn’s Chapel
2121 Grand Ave, Des Moines


Among other questions, the panel seeks to explore beliefs about what happens after death and practices concerning what must be done before and after death. Representatives of three different local refugee communities will explore these beliefs and practices from the perspectives of their religious traditions: Vietnamese Buddhism, African Muslim, and Serbian Christian. The panelists will focus particularly on the tensions between traditional theologies and rituals of death, and the way in which death has increasingly become the domain of medicine and law.

Audio of the Panel:

Audio of the Q&A:

Interfaith and Multicultural Fair

tippet-picturesInterfaith and Multicultural Fair

November 15, 4 to 6 p.m., Parents Hall, Olmsted Center

The Iowa Interfaith and Multicultural Fair, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. in Drake’s Olmsted Center, will feature representatives from 15 central Iowa faith communities—including three Jewish synagogues, three Christian churches, three Muslim mosques, two Hindu temples, two Buddhist temples, and two Sikh temples. The fair is sponsored by The Comparison Project at Drake University, the Drake Community Press, and the Des Moines Area Religious Council.

The fair will feature music, food, photography, information, and religious objects from each of the participating faith communities. Attendees will also have an opportunity to pre-order copies of a photo-illustrated, student-written book about “Religions of Des Moines,” which is being written and produced by The Comparison Project, the Drake Community Press, and local photographer Bob Blanchard. The book is expected to publish in spring 2017.


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The Interfaith and Multicultural Fair will precede the 37th Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture with Krista Tippett, taking place at 7:00 p.m. at Drake University’s Knapp Center.

Tippett is host of On Being, a Peabody Award-winning public radio program and podcast that traces the mysteries of human existence. In addition to being one of the world’s leading journalists covering faith and religion, Tippett is also an advocate for civil discourse. Her latest initiative, the Civil Conversations Project, fosters a series of conversations, public events, and resources to help heal the divisions within our communities.

Prayers to Death and Dying: A Trivium of Sorts to a "Santa Muerte" Book of Devotions

Eduardo Garcia Villada

Associate Professor of Spanish, Drake University

Thursday, November 17, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University
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In this presentation, Prof García interprets the texts of Santa Muerte prayers through the study of their grammar, logic, and rhetoric and in relation to social factors in contemporary Mexico. This presentation also examines Christian and Aztec/Mexican views on life, death, and dying along with the dynamics of conqueror-conquered.

Garcia Villada’s research interests are in the areas of Spanish language proficiency assessment, and Latin American cultural studies in computer-assisted language learning environments. He has published his research in CALICO Journal, Hispania, Journal of Latinos and Education, and Critical Inquiry in Language Studies.

Video of the Lecture

Community Interfaith Dialogue

Moderator:Norma Hirsch
  • Norma Hirsch, Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University
Panelists:
  • Eugene Kiruhura, pastor of the Urban Heights Covenant Church
  • Tanka Dhital, president of the Hindu Cultural and Educational Center
  • Nijaz Valjecvic, imam at Ezan Islamic and Educational Center

Thursday, October 27, 7:00 p.m.
Iles Funeral Homes, Dunn’s Chapel
2121 Grand Ave, Des Moines


Among other questions, the panel seeks to explore beliefs about what happens after death and practices concerning what must be done before and after death. Representatives of three different local refugee communities will explore these beliefs and practices from the perspectives of their religious traditions: Bhutanese Hinduism, Bosnian Islam, and Congolese Christianity. The panelists will focus particularly on the tensions between traditional theologies and rituals of death, and the way in which death has increasingly become the domain of medicine and law.

Audio of the Lecture:

Audio of the Q&A:

The Ritualization of Death: The Journey from the Living-living to the Living Dead in African Religions

Herbert Moyo

Director of the Practical Theology Programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Thursday, October 6, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University
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Dr. Herbert Moyo’s talk will address Ndebele theologies and rituals of death and dying, especially as these involve ongoing relationships with the ancestors. Moyo will focus on the ways in which the modern medicalization of life and death offer challenges to these traditional philosophies and practices.
Dr. Moyo teaches practical theology, religion and governance, and church leadership in the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Moyo’s research focuses on church and state relations in Africa, the relationship between traditional African religions and the Christian church, and coping with death and dying in Africa.
Response by Willy Mafuta, United Methodist minister and adjunct professor of religion

“A Time to Be Born, and a Time to Die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2): A Jewish View of the Modern Medical Complexities of Dying

Elliot Dorff

Elliot Dorff Rector 2011

Rector and Sol & Ann Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy, American Jewish University
Thursday, September 15, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center
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Dorff will be discussing how the medical and social features of contemporary societies make treating the dying much more morally fraught than it was in the past, and, given that, what the Jewish tradition can advise us on how to treat the dying not simply as patients, but as people worthy of respect.

Elliot Dorff is Rector and Distinguished Service Professor at American Jewish University and Visiting Professor at UCLA School of Law. He served on three federal commissions on matters of health care and now serves on a commissions on matters of health care and now serves on a commission for the State of California. He is the author of Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics.

To listen to the lecture: