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The Laing Lectures

The Laing Lectures began at Regent College in 1999 in cooperation with Roger and Carol Laing and in honour of their father, William John Laing. The purpose of the lectures is to encourage persons recognized for scholarship, wisdom, and creativity to undertake serious thought and original writing on an issue of significance for the Christian church and to promote the sharing of such thoughts through a series of public lectures.

The material presented by Laing Lecturers is intended to move beyond an analysis of historic and current concerns to provide proposals for alternative action for the Christian church. In doing so, lecturers are invited to explore in an interdisciplinary way the relationship between Christianity and culture, and to suggest ways in which that relationship might lead to greater flourishing of the church, the larger human household, and the whole community of creation.

Upcoming Laing Lectures

Marilynne Robinson

Date: March 7-9, 2017

Marilynne Robinson was born and raised in Idaho, where her family has lived for several generations. She received a BA from Brown University in 1966 and a PhD in English literature from the University of Washington in 1977. Housekeeping, her first novel, was published in 1981 and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction and the American Academy and Institute's Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award. Mother Country, an examination of Great Britain's role in radioactive environmental pollution, was published in 1989. Robinson published the Pullitzer-Prize-winning Gilead in 2004, Home in 2008, and Lila in 2014. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with her family.


Past Laing Lectures

"God, the Brain, and Paradox"

Date: March 9-10, 2016
Featured Speaker: Iain McGilchrist 

Iain McGilchrist came to medicine from a background in the humanities, writing about issues in literature and philosophy. He trained in medicine because of an interest in the mind-body problem and practised in psychiatry and researched in neuropsychology, including neuroimaging. He seeks to understand the mind and the brain by seeing them in the broadest possible context—that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise. His most recent book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, explores the nature of the brain's two hemispheres, their relationship to one another, and their link to the creation of our consciousness and our culture. He is working on books about creativity and mental illness and the current plight of the humanities, and is one day hoping to complete a short book of reflections on spiritual experience.

"Settling in to a Decadent Decline"

Date: Oct 22-23, 2014
Featured Speaker: Ross Douthat

Five years ago, our civilization experienced a massive economic crisis, but our current political, intellectual, and social climate has changed much less than one might expect. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat states, “This is not the stability of a flourishing, resilient society. It’s the peace of a decadent one.” Join him at the 2014 Laing Lectures to learn what decadence means, why it’s so dangerous, and how we might escape it.

"Christian Theology as a Guide for the Emotions"

Date: February 19-20, 2014
Featured Speaker: Dr. Ellen T. Charry

Regent College is pleased to welcome Dr. Ellen T. Charry, the Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, as the speaker for the 2013-14 Laing Lectures. For Dr. Charry, theology is not a theoretical enterprise. It is an eminently practical and religious undertaking. "Theology is about knowing and growing in the love of God and our neighbor so that we flourish in the destiny that God has in mind for us," she once wrote. A quick examination of her writing confirms her passion for human flourishing. Whether in the classroom at Princeton or the pages of her publications, she pursues answers to the question of how Christian beliefs and practices can nurture people intellectually, morally, and psychologically in the course of everyday life and work. She will continue to pursue this question at the Laing Lectures as she explores the interface between Christian doctrine and emotional formation.

"FROM DOCTRINE TO DOCTRINES: THE HOLLOWING OUT OF THE CHRISTIAN CONSENSUS"

Date: October 25–26, 2012
Featured Speaker: Rex Murphy

Has modern secular thought assumed the authority and deference of “doctrine,” supplanting traditional faith? Rex Murphy thinks so. Over the course of three lectures, Mr. Murphy offered an account of how the Christian understanding of life was pushed back, was attacked by, and in some cases surrendered itself to purely secular imperatives. He remarked on the great voids left by this retreat, and how in some cases secular understandings, such as the prevailing socio-political thought of many Western nations, have occupied the empty terrain and even taken on the character once owned only by religious belief—but without its philosophical foundations. Finally, Mr. Murphy examined two cases that illustrate this perspective: the advance of environmentalism as an ersatz-religion, and the phenomenon of political correctness, and its heavy-handed corrections, which amounts to another form of orthodoxy.


Previous Laing Lecturers: Neil Postman (2000), Charles Taylor (2001), Peter Berger (2002), Margaret Visser (2004), Miroslav Volf (2006), Nicholas Wolterstorff (2007), Walter Brueggemann (2008), Susan Wise Bauer (2010), Albert Borgmann (2011).

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