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Oct. 17 Lecture at Wilson Sheds New Light on Abolitionist John Brown

Posted: October 11, 2011

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – More than 150 years after he was hanged at Harper's Ferry, John Brown remains a controversial figure. Dr. Ted Smith of Vanderbilt University will discuss the enigmatic historical figure in a lecture entitled “The Spirit of John Brown: Retrieving Divine Violence as a Topic in Christian Ethics,” to be held at Wilson College on Monday, Oct. 17.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Oct. 11, 2011
CONTACT: David True, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3396
Email: david.true@wilson.edu or dbtrue@gmail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – More than 150 years after he was hanged at Harper's Ferry, John Brown remains a controversial figure. Dr. Ted Smith of Vanderbilt University will discuss the enigmatic historical figure in a lecture entitled “The Spirit of John Brown: Retrieving Divine Violence as a Topic in Christian Ethics,” to be held at Wilson College on Monday, Oct. 17.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Brooks Science Complex auditorium.

Today, Brown is most often understood either as a madman or a rational but failed guerrilla warrior. Smith will argue that both of those widely held interpretations dismiss Brown’s sense that violence could relate directly to the divine. Building on the work of Walter Benjamin, Ren Girard and Paul Kahn, Smith will make a case for the retrieval of the category of divine violence — not to condone violence, but to describe and interrupt the expansion of violence under the cover of disenchantment.

Smith is the author of “The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice,” which engages debate about Christianity and democracy through a history of preaching.

The lecture is sponsored by the college’s Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Wilson Scholars Program. A reception will follow. Reservations are requested.

To R.S.V.P., contact Gretchen Babendreier at gretchen.babendreier@wilson.edu or 717-264-4141, Ext. 3203.

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Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a liberal arts college dedicated to the education of women. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pa. Wilson offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 areas and master’s degrees in education and the humanities. The college’s 2011-12 enrollment in the College for Women and the Adult Degree Programs is 746 and includes 21 students from 10 foreign countries.

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Last Updated: October 14, 2011