5/9 TCP Final Comparison of Miracles – “Miracles: So What?”

Speakers: David L. Weddle, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Colorado College; Karen Zwier, Lecturer in Philosophy, Iowa State University

Thursday, May 9th, 7:00 p.m.; Cowles Library Reading Room                                                                                       

The Comparison Project has come to the end of its two-year series on miracles, in which we have heard diverse perspectives from a wide range of disciplines. It is now time to face the question that has haunted the entire series: if a miracle occurs, what does it prove? This is the dreaded “so what?” question. Professors Weddle and Zwier propose this evening to engage the “so what?” question. Please join us in this final conversation on miracles.

David L. Weddle is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Colorado College where he taught courses in comparative religion, ethics, and Christian thought, and is the author of Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions (2010) and Sacrifice in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (2017).

Karen Zwier is a lecturer in philosophy at Iowa State University. Her research deals with philosophical and scientific methodology as well as metaphysics of science. Her areas of specialty include philosophy of causation, history and philosophy of physics, and science and religion.  

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4/7 Meet My Religious Neighbor: St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church

Please join us on Sunday, April 7th at 9:30 a.m. for a visit to St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church (4655 NE 3rd St, Des Moines). Although the priest is ill and cannot perform the liturgy, lay members of the parish will be there to tell us about Serbain Orthodox Christianity in general and St. Demetrius’ Church in particular. Dress can be casual for this event.

4/11: Inconvenient Wonders: Ambivalence in Hasidism about the Reputed Miraculous Powers of its Leaders

Nehemia Polen, Professor of Jewish Thought, Hebrew College

Thursday, April 11th, 7:00 p.m.

Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University

The founder of Hasidism, Israel ben Eliezer (d. 1760), known as the Baal Shem Tov (“Master of the Good Name”) gained his fame as healer, shamanic adept, and charismatic master. To this day, Hasidic communities tell wondrous stories of their leaders, known as Rebbe or Tsaddik (saint, righteous person). Yet Hasidic sources display a curious ambivalence towards the miraculous, often disavowing the centrality and significance of the paranormal in Hasidic life and thought. This marginalization of the miraculous is often connected to a related theme: appreciation of the wondrous nature of everyday life.

Dr. Nehemia Polen is Professor of Jewish Thought at Boston’s Hebrew College. He is the author of numerous books, among which are The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto (Jason Aronson, 1994, 1999) and The Rebbe’s Daughter (Jewish Publication Society, 2002), recipient of a National Jewish Book Award. He is an ordained rabbi who has served a congregation for twenty-three years, and is a contributing commentator to My People’s Prayer Book, a multi-volume Siddur incorporating diverse perspectives on the liturgy (Jewish Lights). 

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