The 2017 Pluscarden Pentecost Lectures: Gnosis and the Theocrats from Mars – given by Dr Francesca Murphy, Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana between Tuesday 6th – Thursday 8th June 2017 at Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin
Each year the Abbot and Community of Pluscarden Abbey sponsor a series of four lectures by an invited Theologian on an aspect of Catholic Theology. Previous Lecturers have included Professor John Haldane, Fr Aidan Nichols OP, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Paul McPartlan, Fr Tom Herbst OFM, Professor Carol Zaleski, Abbot Erik Varden O.C.S.O. and Dr Ian Ker. The Lectures are held on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after Pentecost in St Scholastica’s Retreat House at the Abbey. They are open to all who wish to attend and are free. Limited accommodation is available at the Abbey and those who wish to stay should book as soon as possible. There are also many places to stay in the Elgin area: contact the local tourist office: 01343 542666.
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Lecture Overview (see below for full information about each lecture)
- Tuesday 6th June at 15:00 – “The Theocrats from Mars”
- Wednesday 7th June at 10:30 – “Painters, Prophets and Kings”
- Wednesday 7th June at 15:00 – “Secularity versus Secularisation”
- Thursday 8th June at 10:30 – “Freedom”
Dr Francesca Murphy is Professor of Theology and Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, USA. Before her appointment there, she spent around 16 years at Aberdeen University, Scotland, latterly as Professor of Christian Philosophy. She studied at Manchester University, the Philosophy University of Southern California, and gained her Ph.D in Theology in 1990 from King’s College, London.
At Notre Dame University, undergraduate courses she teaches include: Foundations of Theology, Theology and Film, Church in History and Eternity, Theology goes to the Movies. For Graduate courses she teaches Faith, Reason and the Church as well as graduate reading courses on Hans Urs von Balthasar.
Dr Murphy has published several books, including Christ the Form of Beauty (T&T Clark, 1995), The Comedy of Revelation (T&T Clark/Continuum, 2000), Art and Intellect in the Philosophy of Étienne Gilson (Missouri University Press, 2004), God is not a Story (OUP, 2007). She has written articles in numerous theological and philosophical journals and has contributed many chapters to books, including The Oxford Handbook of Catholic Theology, edited by Lewis Ayres (a previous Pentecost Lecturer), published online by Oxford U.P. in 2015. She has also edited a variety of books, the most recent being The Oxford Book of Christology, reviewed in the latest issue of Pluscarden Benedictines. She writes regularly for the excellent journal First Things and has contributed numerous papers to conferences in various parts of the world. Her lengthy list of credits may be accessed on the Notre Dame University website.
The Lectures: Gnosis and the Theocrats from Mars
Dr Murphy plans to read a theological novel in 14 chapters, three or four short chapters per lecture. She does not want to give too much away or it will spoil the story. In brief, the world has been invaded by theocrats from Mars. Gnosis and Pistis (Knowledge and Faith), the hero and heroine of the novel, are trying to get rid of them. Will they succeed?
Lecture 1 – The Theocrats from Mars:
- CHAPTER ONE: THE THEOCRATS FROM MARS
- The world is invaded by Robots from Mars. The new secular order which the robots impose is theocratic.
- CHAPTER TWO: DEUS EX MACHINA
- Some human beings have erotic feelings for their Robot overlords. The Robots have made themselves the highest object of human desire.
- CHAPTER THREE: BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY
- The Robotic ideal is infinite repetition. They routinize time and eliminate temporality as a signpost to eternity.
Lecture 2 – Painters, Prophets and Kings:
- CHAPTER FOUR: PAINTERS, PROPHETS AND KINGS: PROMETHEUS PAYS A CALL
- How the world secularized itself in preparation for the Robotic Martians.
- CHAPTER FIVE: THE SECULAR SANCTITY OF LACORDAIRE
- Jean-Baptiste Henri-Dominique Lacordaire saw that secularity is a shield against secularization.
- CHAPTER SIX: SOULLESS ANGELS
- Backstory about the creation of the Robots on Mars. Why they are agents of secularization.
- CHAPTER SEVEN: A TRAIL OF ELEPHANTS
- The Martian Robots impose a religion of agnosticism.
Lecture 3 – Secularity versus Secularisation:
- CHAPTER EIGHT: AN ABSENCE OF VOLITION
- The Robots from Mars have no free will but they are exceptionally philanthropic.
- CHAPTER NINE: SECULARITY VERSUS SECULARIZATION
- How secularity makes belief in God and religion possible.
- CHAPTER TEN: THE TROJAN HORSE: COMEDY REGAINED
- A glimpse of comedy enables some human beings to envisage life before the Robotic conquest.
- CHAPTER ELEVEN: ESCAPE TO THE HOLY LAND
- Resistance to the Robots’ Promethean secularism is not dead, but it is largely futile.
Lecture 4 – Freedom:
- CHAPTER TWELVE: FREEDOM
- Only the recovery of freedom will enable the humans to escape from the Robots
- CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE BODHISSATVA. MARIE-DOMINIQUE LACORDAIRE
- Lacordaire helps some of the humans to make their escape.
- CHAPTER FOURTEEN: KOMOS: THE NEW PROMETHEUS
- The Robotic conquest is turned against itself. An Apocalpytic and perhaps Utopian Ending.
For further information or to book accommodation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org