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Faith and Social Justice
photo by Robin Holland
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July 3, 2009

Bill Moyers sits down with reknowned scholars Cornel West, Serene Jones, and Gary Dorrien for a fresh take on what our core ethics and values as a society say about America's politics, policy, and the challenges of balancing capitalism and democracy.

Gary Dorrien
Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. An Episcopal priest, he was previously the Parfet Distinguished Professor at Kalamazoo College, where he taught for 18 years and also served as Dean of Stetson Chapel.

Photo by Robin Holland Prof. Dorrien is the author of 13 books and approximately 175 articles that range across the fields of ethics, social theory, theology, philosophy, politics, and history. Praised for their "intellectual creativity" and "stylish prose," these works include four books on social ethics and economic democracy, two acclaimed books on political neoconservatism, and a trilogy titled THE MAKING OF AMERICAN LIBERAL THEOLOGY: (1) IMAGINING PROGRESSIVE RELIGION; (II) IDEALISM, REALISM, AND MODERNITY; (III) CRISIS, IRONY, AND POSTMODERNITY.

A frequent lecturer at universities, divinity schools, conferences, civic groups, and religious gatherings, Prof. Dorrien speaks for the Distinguished Lecturers Program of the Organization of American Historians and is a recent past president of the American Theological Society.

In addition to his involvement in the American Academy of Religion and other professional organizations, Prof. Dorrien has an extensive record of involvement in social justice and anti-war organizations. His recent book, IMPERIAL DESIGNS, grew out of his extensive lecturing against the U.S.'s invasion and occupation of Iraq. His major work, SOCIAL ETHICS IN THE MAKING, will be published in 2008, and he is currently completing a book titled ECONOMY, DIFFERENCE, AND EMPIRE.

Serene Jones
The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones became the sixteenth president of Union Theological Seminary, and the first woman president in the Seminary's 172-year history, on July 1, 2008. She is the Roosevelt Professor of Systematic Theology.Photo by Robin Holland

Previously the Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, Dr. Jones comes to Union after 17 years on the Yale University faculty, where she also served as chair and faculty member of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Jones has held faculty appointments at Yale Law School and in the Department of African American Studies and Religious Studies.

Dr. Jones is a prolific and popular scholar in the fields of theolgoy, religion and gender studies. In addition to publishing 37 articles and book chapters since 1991, she has delivered a long list of professional papers and public lectures across the United States and around the world. She is the author of FEMINIST THEORY AND THEOLOGY: CARTOGRAPHIES OF GRACE (2000) and CALVIN AND THE RHETORIC OF PIETY (1995). She co-edited FEMINIST AND WOMANIST ESSAYS IN REFORMED DOGMATICS (2006), CONSTRUCTIVE THEOLOGY: A CONTEMPORARY ENGAGEMENT WITH CLASSICAL THEMES (2005), LIBERATING ESCHATOLOGY: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF LETTY RUSSELL (1999), and SETTING THE TABLE: WOMEN IN THEOLOGICAL CONVERSATION (1995).

Dr. Jones earned her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School (1985) as well as her Ph.D. in theology from Yale University (1991). She holds a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma (1981) and is an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Jones is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. She has received grants from the Pew Scholars and the Louisville Institute and was co-principal investigator on the "Women, Religion, and Globalization Grant" for the Henry T. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs. From 1996-2006, she served on the advisory board of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology at Wabash College in Indiana, and from 1999 to 2005 she co-convened the Constructive Theology Workgroup, a national organization of progressive theologians.

Cornel West
One of America's most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. THE NEW YORK TIMES has praised his "ferocious moral vision." Photo by Robin Holland

Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, West entered the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, RACE MATTERS, an analysis of racism in American democracy. RACE MATTERS has become a contemporary classic, selling more than a half a million copies to date. In addition, West has published 18 other books, edited 13 texts and has received more than 20 honorary degrees.

West earned two bachelor's degrees from Harvard in three years, magna cum laude. After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.

In his book, DEMOCRACY MATTERS, West analyzes the arrested development of democracy both in America and in the Middle East. In his latest book, HOPE ON A TIGHTROPE, he offers commentary on race, leadership, faith, family, philosophy, and love and service.

He also has produced 3 albums. His latest, NEVER FORGET: A JOURNEY OF REVELATIONS is a collection of socially conscience music featuring collaborations with Prince, Outkast, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli and KRS-ONE. West also offers commentary weekly on The TAVIS SMILEY SHOW from PRI.

Guest photos by Robin Holland.

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References and Reading:
"Christianity and the U.S. Crisis"
The course page for the seminar taught by Gary Dorrien, Serene Jones and Cornel West includes a link to download all the lectures (requires iTunes), as well as the reading list and other course materials.

Gary Dorrien
"AMERICAN LIBERAL THEOLOGY: Crisis, Irony, Decline, Renewal, Ambiguity"
By Gary Dorrien, CROSS CURRENTS, Winter 2005-2006.

"'Benevolent Global Hegemony': William Kristol and the Politics of American Empire,"
By Gary Dorrien, LOGOS JOURNAL, Spring 2004.

"Imagining Social Justice: Cornel West's Prophetic Public Intellectualism"
By Gary Dorrien, CROSS CURRENTS, Spring, 2008.

Serene Jones
Inaugural address of President Serene Jones
By Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary Podcasts, November 17, 2008.

"Marriage Equality Is a Theological Necessity,"
By Serene Jones, HUFFINGTON POST, June 9, 2009.

Cornel West
Cornel West's official homepage.

Cornel's Corner
Web site for Cornel West's most recent music album, NEVER FORGET: A JOURNEY OF REVELATIONS.

TIMES TOPICS: Cornel West.

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