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"Christ and the Pelican Chick" Talk by Fordham's Dr. Elizabeth Johnson


On Thursday, Feb. 6, a talk entitled "Christ and the Pelican Chick," will by given by Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., C.S.J., Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University. The talk will take place at 7 p.m. in the Panasci Family Chapel.

In Darwin’s account of the evolution of species, pain, suffering and death are companions of life across its entire adventure. How might we interpret this awful fact in a world that Jewish and Christian faith sees as God’s good creation? Using the example of the back-up pelican chick, this lecture places the death endemic to the natural world in dialogue with Jesus Christ’s cross and resurrection. The result is a way of thinking about salvation that makes room for all creatures.

Dr. Johnson teaches in both undergraduate and graduate programs at Fordham. A native of Brooklyn, as a young adult she joined the religious order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, she was a young sister teaching in elementary school as a New York State certified teacher of reading from grades K-6, a certification she still maintains. The Council energized her interest in matters theological.

After receiving a Ph.D. in theology from Catholic University of America (1981), she taught at that university for ten years before moving to Fordham. A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the oldest and largest society of theologians in the world, and a former president of the American Theological Society, an ecumenical association, she loves to teach and was awarded Fordham University’s Teaching Award in 1998 and Professor of the Year Award in 2011. Recipient of 14 honorary degrees, the John Courtney Murray Award for distinguished achievement in theology, and numerous other awards, she serves on the editorial boards of the journals Theological Studies, Horizons: Journal of the College Theology Society, and Theoforum. Her book She Who Is garnered several honors, most notably the Grawemeyer Award in Religion; her work has been translated into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Bosnian, Korean, Indonesian, and Thai.

Deeply involved in the life of the church, her public service in the church has included being a theologian on the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (1984-91); a consultant to the US Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Women in Church and Society; a theologian on the Vatican-sponsored dialogue between science and religion, and on the Vatican-sponsored ecumenical conference on Christ and world religions; and a core committee member of the Common Ground Initiative, started by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to reconcile polarized groups in the Catholic Church.

“Science and Religion in Modern America” is an initiative led by the McDevitt Chair in Religious Philosophy, George Coyne. S.J., and the McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation at Le Moyne. Its principal aim is to engage members of the campus community, as well as the broader Central New York community, in a candid, respectful conversation about the complex and seemingly disparate subjects of science and religion. The central pillars of this two-year endeavor are nine public lectures by eminent scholars, which will be held over the course of three academic semesters. All of these events will be digitally recorded and made available on the McDevitt Center website.

For more information, contact the McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation at mcdevittcenter@lemoyne.edu.


posted on: 1/26/2014