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2013 C. Shelby Rooks Lecture


The Center for the Study of Black Faith and Life at the Chicago Theological Seminary presented the Seventh Annual C. Shelby Rooks Lectureship on Thursday, October 10, 8 p.m. Social ethicist and scholar of American religions, Dr. Jonathan L. Wilton, delivered a lecture titled “The Du Boisian Dilemma: Sacrificing the Faith in Order to Save the Race."

Dr. Walton is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University and Pusey Minister in Harvard's Memorial Church. He is also a professor of religion and society on the faculty of divinity.

Professor Walton's research addresses the intersections of religion, politics and media culture. He has published widely in scholarly journals such as Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation and Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. His book Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism (NYU Press, 2009) disrupts commonly held assumptions that associate evangelical broadcasting with white, conservative evangelical communities, while illumining the ways televangelists' professed aims are frustrated by their hyper-­‐mediated methods.

Professor Walton's work and insights have been featured in several national and international news outlets including the New York Times, CNN and the BBC. He is also the "resident ethicist" on the Tavis Smiley radio show.

Currently he is working on a book-­‐length study of famed televangelist Carlton Pearson tentatively entitled Pentecostalism Made Pretty. The book explores questions of power, privilege and race in the context of late 20th and early 21st century neo-­‐Pentecostalism. He is also completing a volume on African-­‐American religious history with Eddie S. Glaude (Princeton University), American Religion in Black and Blue.

Walton earned his Ph.D. and master of divinity degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. And the Atlanta native graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. in political science. Walton was an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside prior to joining the faculty of Harvard Divinity School.

Learn more about the history of the C. Shelby Rooks Lecture and read about past lecturers.