WMU News

Lecture addresses monasticism as Christian tradition

Oct. 9, 2005

KALAMAZOO--A noted religious scholar will present Western Michigan University's annual Phi Beta Kappa lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Meader Rare Book Room of Waldo Library.

Dr. Bernard McGinn, the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will speak on "Why Monasticism Matters." His visit is being sponsored by the WMU's branch of Phi Beta Kappa and Department of Comparative Religion.

McGinn is widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of mysticism in the Western Christian tradition. His lecture will focus on monasticism, which is a form a virtuous religious life characterized by asceticism, separation from the world and contemplation of God.

According to McGinn, monasticism is the most lasting contribution of the late antique world to the history of Christianity. During his talk, he will look at three "moments" in monastic history that provide a sense of why monasticism matters in Christian history.

From 1969 to 2003, McGinn taught at Chicago's Divinity School, where he was a member of the school's theology and history areas and also served as an adjunct professor in the department of history.

Among his books are works related to the history of Western apocalypticism, such as "Visions of the End" and "Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil." He also has written works on Christian spirituality and mysticism, Jewish mysticism, and medieval Christianity.

His major project is an ongoing history of Western Christian mysticism. Three volumes have already been published. The fourth volume, "The Harvest of Mysticism in Late Medieval Germany 1300-1500," is scheduled to appear yet this year.

McGinn is a cum laude graduate of St. Joseph's Seminary and College in Yonkers, N.Y. He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1963 and a doctor of philosophy degree in history from Brandeis University in 1970.

He is a fellow of the Medieval Academy, as well as of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has served as president of the American Society of Church History and the American Catholic Historical Association.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400