Minns Spring 2021 Series

Overlooked and Despised: Lectures on a Humanist Re-Thinking of Biblical Outsiders

Anthony B. Pinn, PhD

Anthony Pinn photo

Dr. Pinn's spring 2021 lectures explore two questions — two related queries motivated in part by the rabid nationalism and marginalization of despised populations marking so much of public life in the United States. He frames them with respect to the way in which religious supporters of nationalism have buttressed their position using theological language and religious principles drawn from their reading of scripture. Mindful of this, is there a way for liberal religionists, and humanists more broadly, to read scripture so as to counter Christian justifications for national disregard and hostility? In other words, are there life lessons within scripture that support a more progressive and justice-minded agenda for personal living in community?

By re-reading three key narratives these lectures aim to help Unitarian Universalists in particular, and a wider liberal-humanist audience in general, rethink the lessons taught by the Bible. The goal in so doing is to offer an alternate religious-theological grammar and network of principles that better position liberal religionists to think and speak a more complex sense of injustice and justice.

Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He has published several books advancing scholarship related to religion and culture and has lectured nationally and internationally on topics related to his intellectual interests in black religion, humanism, and religion and popular culture.

Lecture 1 — Job’s Wife and the Price of Integrity

Job’s wife reveals an unexpected truth, and confronts us with a hard question: What are we willing to live (and die) for?

Respondent: Kim Hampton, Earlham School of Religion graduate, independent consultant, and researcher on the intersections of race, religion, and popular culture
When: Friday, May 14, 2021, 7:00 pm CDT
Where: Webinar hosted by First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

Lecture 2 — Nimrod and the Unjustified ‘Because’

The biblical character of Nimrod shows us the value of perpetual rebellion, a necessary virtue for our times.

Respondent: Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
When: Friday, May 21, 2021, 7:00 pm EDT
Where: Webinar hosted by First Church in Boston

Lecture 3 — Judas and Making Justice Happen

There are characters we love to hate. Judas is one of them. But from another angle he is also a person with a deep and contradictory commitment to political transformation.

Respondent: Mark Hicks, PhD, Angus MacLean Professor of Religious Education, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, Illinois
When: Friday, May 28, 2021, 7:00 pm CDT
Where: Webinar hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston