Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies

Dr. Ann Taves will present the 2022 Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies.

Join us online at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 for her lecture. Free registration is required for access to the Zoom link.

“Sacralizing and Desecrating Public Spaces: Civil Religion, Worldviews, and the Role of Ultimate Values in the January 6th Attack and Its Aftermath”

Dr. Taves describes the talk this way:
The idea that our nation’s capital is a sacred space appeared in many references to the actions of January 6, 2021. Jacob Chansley, the “Q-Anon shaman,” said he “sang a song … to creat[e] positive vibrations in a sacred chamber.”

In the wake of the attack, Patrick Reason, a Catholic columnist from Chicago, realized that he viewed “the U.S. capital as a place that is holy for democracy” and the actions of January 6th as “a desecration of the values we hold dear.”  President Biden, in his speech on January 6, stated what he viewed as obvious, that “one year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked — simply attacked.” Although some scholars view the sacred as the central feature of religions, we can think of sacred things more generally in terms of the ultimate values that lie at the heart of a worldview, whether religious or secular. 

In this talk, I’ll discuss (1) the role that “sacred values” play in creating a “moral community;” (2) the sacred values embraced and enacted by those who enabled the attack and those who attacked the Capital on January 6th, and those who defended it; and (3) the role that acknowledging sacred values can play in conflict resolution.

Dr. Ann Taves

About Dr. Ann Taves

Ann Taves is Research Professor and Distinguished Professor (Emerita) of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara.  A historian by training, she has long-standing interests in theory and method as they relate to the study of unusual experiences and the emergence of new worldviews and ways of life. Her books include Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James (Princeton, 1999), Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and other Special Things (Princeton, 2009), and Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths (Princeton, 2016).  Her approach to the study of religion is discussed in Building Blocks of Religion, ed. G. Larsson, J. Svenson, and A. Nordin (Equinox, 2020). She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011), a past president of the American Academy of Religion (2010) and the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion (2016-18).

The Thomas L. King lecture series has been fortunate to have a number of distinguished scholars as speakers.  Previous lecturers have included Walter Brueggemann, Jacob Neusner, Martin Marty, John Dominic Crossan, Huston Smith, Wendy Doniger, Bart Ehrman, Peter Gomes, and Eva Morczek. In addition to the formal public lecture, speakers' schedules are typically arranged so they can meet informally with a class of undergraduates.

The Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies always is free and open to the public. It is held each spring semester. 

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1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

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