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Tupelo Event: Rev. Michael Dowd in Tupelo, MS: March 31, 2018
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Professor Mark Muesse

March 31, 2018


Theme: Ecology as the Heart of Theology

9 AM - Lecture 1:  Reality 101: Deep-Time Wisdom and Dark Optimism

11 AM - Lecture 2:  Limits 101: Energy, Ecology, and Human Nature

Lunch available for purchase on site

AFTER LUNCH Homily/Discussion: ProFuture Faith: The Death and Resurrection of Religion?

Adjourn at 2:00 PM

DESCRIPTION: A science-based, deep-time big picture is vital for staying sane and sober in chaotic and contracting times. An evidential “dark optimism” can help us accept what is inevitable, avoid what is futile, and be a blessing to friends, family, and neighbors in a difficult and uncertain world.

The techno-fetish religion of growth everlasting was never sustainable. We tolerated it is because religion has been asleep at the wheel for centuries owing to idolatry of the written word, idolatry of the otherworldly, and idolatry of beliefs.

Anthropocentrism led us to defile primary reality — the climate, forests, soils, seas, and life upon which we depend. And now we are in the early stages of the Great Reckoning. The good news is that this may also be the Great Homecoming — the prodigal species coming home to Reality. By shifting from human-centered to life-centered measures of progress and success we can, once again, become integral members of the community of life.

By honoring the evolutionary significance of religion and the religious significance of science, we experience a deep and profound love of life, trust in death, and passion for posterity. At the intersection of science, inspiration, and sustainability we find that ‘reality is divine’ and ‘ecology must be the heart of theology.’ Such a pro-future sacred realism clarifies our predicament and our way forward.
This series of two dynamic, multi-media presentations followed by a boxed lunch and short homily will showcase the lessons of history and the Grace Limits of ecology, economics, and human nature. It will also highlight how global collective intelligence, interpreted meaningfully, can help green religion and empower all of us be “faithful to the future.”

About Rev. Michael Dowd:

Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling eco-theologian and pro-science ‘evangelist' whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally. His book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael and his science writer,  evolutionary educator, and fellow climate activist wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to some 2,500 religious and secular groups across North America since 2002. Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. He has also conducted two acclaimed online conversation series: “The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity” and “The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness.” Michael’s message, grounded in an ecological interpretation of Big History, always centers on fidelity to the future and how to stay sane, sober, and inspired to act locally and become ever more resilient in chaotic and contracting times. Recent sermons can be found here and here, longer programs here. His main volunteer work is recording “deep sustainability scripture”.


2018 Birmingham Spring Lecture: Mark Muesse
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Professor Mark Muesse

Saturday, April 14, 2018


The location will be announced later.

Professor Mark Muesse from Rhodes College in Memphis will talk about Buddhism

Mark W. Muesse was born in Waco, Texas in 1957 and attended Baylor University, where he received a B.A., summa cum laude, in English Literature (1979). He also attended Harvard University, where he earned a Masters of Theological Studies (1981), a Masters of Arts (1983), and a Ph.D. in The Study of Religion (1987).  At Harvard, his principal teachers were Gordon D. Kaufman, Richard R. Niebuhr, and Sharon Welch in theology and Wilfred Cantwell Smith, William Graham, and Diana L. Eck in religion. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the relationship between liberalism and fundamentalism.

Muesse has taught at Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Southern Maine, where he also served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Muesse came to Rhodes College in 1988 as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and became Associate Professor in 1995.  He served as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Director of the Life:Then and Now program, Director of the Asian Studies program, and the W. J. Millard Chair in Religious Studies.

At Rhodes, he teaches courses in world religions and philosophy, modern theology, and spirituality.  In 2007, he received national recognition by Fortress Press, which presented him with its Undergraduate Teaching Award at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in San Diego.  In 2008, he received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching, Rhodes′ highest honor for a member of its faculty. He was a 2011 recipient of the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Viswayogi Viswamji Foundation for Universal Integration and Peace in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India, for “outstanding and dedicated community service and exceptional efforts to promote ‘human values and culture.’”

He has produced four lecture series and companion books for The Great CoursesThe Great Religions: Hinduism; Religions of the Axial Age; Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; and Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation.  He is the author of many articles and reviews in comparative religions and theology. His books include Redeeming Men: Religion and Masculinities, The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction, which was awarded a Certificate of Special Distinction by the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, and The Age of Sages: The Axial Age in Asia and the Near East.  His newest book, Four Wise Men: The Lives and Teachings of Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad, was published by Cascade Books in 2017.

Muesse has also been Professor of Theology at the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai, India.   He has traveled extensively throughout Asia and has studied at International Buddhist Meditation Centre, MahachulalongkornUniversity, Bangkok, Thailand; the Himalayan Yogic Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal; the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey; and the Subodhi Institute in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka.   His wife Dhammika, a native of Sri Lanka, teaches in the Rhodes Chemistry Department.  They have a daughter, Ariyana, who is a eighth grader at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis.