Dr. Catherine Keller to Deliver 27th Annual Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion Lectures


MACON – Dr. Catherine Keller, George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology in the Graduate Division of Religion of Drew University, will deliver Mercer University's 27th annual Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion Lectures on the theme “Political Theology of the Earth.”

The lecture series, sponsored by the Columbus Roberts Department of Religion in the College of Liberal Arts, will take place Feb. 27-28 in Newton Chapel.

“Catherine Keller will add to the depth and breadth of a nearly three-decade long lecture series,” said Dr. Richard F. Wilson, Columbus Roberts Professor and chair of the Department of Religion. “From the beginning, our hope has been that the Harry Vaughan Smith Professor will speak to students and members of the Macon community with insights gleaned from a commitment to faithful, practical engagement in our world.”

Dr. Keller will deliver her first lecture, titled “The Political: Sovereign Exception or Collective Inception,” Tuesday at 10:50 a.m., followed by “The Earth: Climate of Closure, Matter of Disclosure” at 7:30 p.m. She will conclude with “The Theology: Kairos of Endless Entanglement” Wednesday at 10 a.m. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Dr. Keller's teaching, lecturing and writing delves into the relational potential of a theology of becoming, which is to say that she strives to discover ways that practical theology provides bridges between diverse formal disciplines in order to enhance cooperation in pursuit of a common good. Her books seek to forge conversations about God, the world and societies that will contribute to global practices of thought and practice that may secure a more healthy world community.

Her work challenges traditional expressions of faith and practice in the hope of finding new, integrative ways to address the interplay of varied dimensions of life in our new century that takes into consideration care for the earth and care for the residents of the earth, regardless of geography, ethnicity or gender, all under an umbrella of religious, spiritual and social responsibility.

Dr. Keller's published books include From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self, Apocalypse Now and Then, God and Power, Face of the Deep: a Theology of Becoming, On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process, Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement, and Incarnations: Exercises in Theological Possibility. In addition, she has co-edited several volumes of the Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium.

She has received numerous awards, including the Association of Theological Schools Junior Faculty Grant, Association of Graduate Students Teaching Award, The Theological School Teaching Award, Lily Theological Research Grant, Bela Kornitzer Book Award, Honorary Professorship from the University of Winchester (U.K.), and most recently, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Keller earned her Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and theology from Claremont Graduate School, Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and Bachelor of Arts in theological studies from the University of Heidelberg.

The Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 1990 after Dr. and Mrs. Harry Vaughan Smith made a major gift to Mercer to underwrite a visiting professorship and lecture series in the Department of Religion.

The gift bears witness to the lifelong commitment of the late Dr. Smith to the University, which began when he enrolled as a freshman in 1920. A 1924 graduate, Dr. Smith served as pastor of several prominent churches in Georgia before becoming alumni secretary and assistant to the president at Mercer in 1946, a post he held until 1955. From 1955 until 1970, he distinguished himself as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. In his many years of service, Dr. Smith was a faithful worker on behalf of all Georgia Baptist causes, but he always maintained a special interest in the University and the cause of Christian higher education.