Chautauqua Institution

2 p.m., Monday-Friday, Hall of Philosophy

This series is designed to present issues that impact the lived experience of everyday life from theological, ethical, moral, humanitarian, philosophical and religious perspectives.

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2 p.m., Monday-Friday, Hall of Philosophy

This series is designed to present issues that impact the lived experience of everyday life from theological, ethical, moral, humanitarian, philosophical and religious perspectives.


Week One  ::  June 26 - July 1, 2016

Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy
This week is about Jewish storytelling. John Shelby Spong explores the Bible’s literary and liturgical roots—its grounding in Jewish culture, symbols, icons, and storytelling tradition—to explain how the events of Jesus’ life, including the virgin birth, the miracles, the details of the passion story, and the resurrection and ascension, would have been understood by both the Jewish authors of the various gospels and by the Jewish audiences for which they were originally written.
view Interfaith speakers

Week Two  ::  July 3 – 8, 2016

Money and Power through a Spiritual Lens
Religious communities take seriously their stewardship over money and relationships to the material world and power, and are especially cautious about the corrosive and corrupting effects of wealth on virtue and the tendency to greed and absence of caring for the good of all. In this week we will take a closer look at money and power from ethical and spiritual perspectives.
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Week Three  ::  July 10 - 15, 2016

Moral Leadership in Action

Authentic faith expresses itself in moral action. All faith practitioners are called to be moral leaders who live and lead with integrity and imagination while inviting others to join them. This week spotlights just such exemplary Faith leaders. 

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Week Four  ::  July 17 - 22, 2016

Searching for an Inter-Stellar Spiritual Identity?
Through Science we no longer need religion to explain how the universe works.  Do traditional religions, which have largely been earth-based belief systems, hold together when transplanted into space?  Connection to our earth is a central value in all religions, while space is not fully theorized by these traditions. This week provides an opportunity to revisit how science, religion, and philosophy would strive to cohere together in an inter-stellar context.
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Week Five  ::  July 24 - 29, 2016

A Theology of Ecology
The Jewish vision of ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the earth) is a promising foundation for dialogue about religious stewardship of the earth with counterparts in many traditions. How can theology help humans to seek a relationship with the natural world that can counteract the psychic disintegration of everyday life that comes from exile from Nature?
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Week Six  ::  July 31 - Aug. 5, 2016

Cities:  Religious Voices in the City
The bible starts in a garden and ends in a city. Ethicists, in speaking of the “suburban captivity of the church,” wonder if religious traditions have neglected the city. As public space where strangers can meet, cities offer diverse groups opportunity to interact, but also to collide, and for individuals to both thrive and compete for limited urban living space. How can religious and spiritual people and organizations foster urban spaces and environments that are humanly kind and just for all?
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Week Seven  ::  Aug. 7 - 12, 2016

Transcendence: Pushing Our Spiritual Limits
The concept of “limits” is a central religious theme, but so also is transcendence. “Self-transcendence” is an attractive notion to mystics, who induce altered states of consciousness for spiritual experiences.  Transhumanism incorporates technology to enhance human intellectual, physical, and physiological capacities.  What are the ethical questions we should pose and explore regarding the limits and transcendence of our humanity?
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Week Eight  ::  Aug. 14 - 19, 2016

The Human Dimensions of Warfare
The human cost of war goes beyond the litany of the dead. “Trauma,” “Moral Injury,” Soul Repair” are the consequential vocabulary of war among those who survive. In an era of seemingly endless war, are we just beginning to count the human and ethical costs? In this week we will endeavor to know these costs so that we may address and seek to heal them.
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Week Nine  ::  Aug. 21 - 26, 2016

America’s Spiritual Music Songbook
From hymns to Gospel to Spirituals to the Jewish Chazzan to the Sufi Devotional rhythmic chanting – America has not only embraced – but joyfully celebrated – the spiritual expression of music, and used it to bring the Divine Experience both from and into human hearts, minds, and souls. In this week we will explore the music of the American soul.
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2016 Season Information


Children of Abraham (PDF)
Jews & Muslims in Conversation


Dr. Shahid Aziz helps Chautauquans to navigate conversations about death. 
Read the story
and watch the presentation on YouTube or go to:

You deserve a good death
Practical approach to making end of life decisions for yourself or your loved ones.



Robert M. Franklin
Director of Religion

Maureen Rovegno
Associate Director

Rev. Dr. Derek Austin
Project Director for Clergy Development