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Sat Aug 30, 2014, 11:54 AM


Why religious studies matter

At Divinity School Convocation, emphasis is on faith’s place in a difficult world

August 29, 2014
By Michael Naughton, Harvard Divinity School Communications

During her Harvard Divinity School (HDS) Convocation address, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity Laura S. Nasrallah recalled her work studying a Greek mosaic and how she pondered the sometimes-obscure nature of her labors.

“I wondered: Was I a caricature of the academic — researching things that are no good at all for the world?” she said during Thursday’s ceremonies. “How can I or we afford such work as we move about in a world where people die in Gaza and Israel, along the border in Syria, in the mountains of Sinjar, in the Ukraine, in West Africa, from war, from poverty, from disease, and in this country where children await their fates at the border, where black lives are devalued, and white privilege ignored, now, as before.”

The School held its 199th Convocation as hundreds of incoming students, faculty in academic robes, and other HDS community members gathered under a tent on the Andover Hall lawn and listened to Nasrallah deliver her address, “The Matter of Religion and Theology.”

“Many consider religion and theology as a matter of the mind or spirit, having little impact on the material world except for the violence that can emerge from religion,” said Nasrallah.


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