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The Overnighters: A Screening and Discussion with Director Jesse Moss

Mar 26, 2015  ·  7:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m.  ·  James Stewart '32 Theatre, 185 Nassau Street

Filmmaker Jesse Moss brings his award-winning documentary The Overnighters to Princeton. In the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota, tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up looking for work, lured by the oil boom’s promise of plentiful jobs and big paychecks. Once there, however, they face the stark reality of slim job prospects and nowhere to sleep. The town lacks the infrastructure to house the migrants, even those who do find gainful employment. At Concordia Lutheran Church, Pastor Jay Reinke converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, opening his doors to the “Overnighters” (as he calls them) for a night, a week, or longer. They sleep on the floor, in the pews, and in their cars in the church parking lot. Many who take shelter with Reinke are living on society’s fringes and have checkered pasts, and their presence starts affecting the dynamics of the small community. Reinke’s congregants grow critical and the City Commission threatens to shut the program down, forcing the pastor to make a decision that leads to consequences he never imagined.
The Overnighters dramatizes far-reaching themes: the promise and limits of re-invention, redemption, and compassion, as well as the tension between the moral imperative to “love thy neighbor” and the instinct to protect one’s own.

Anthologizing the Great Way

Mar 31, 2015  ·  5:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.  ·  5 Ivy Lane

This talk presents some reflections on four Indian Buddhist commentaries which are today valued primarily as anthologies of passages from Mahāyāna sūtras. The four include the well-known Śikṣāsamuccaya of Śāntideva (ca. 8th century) and the Sūtrasamuccaya attributed to Nāgārjuna (date uncertain). This is a report on work in progress, with a great deal yet to be done, but already we can see certain issues coming to the fore, including questions of authorship, authorial purpose, structure, and continuity of tradition, both religious and literary. Who is talking? How do they present the Mahāyāna? And what do their compilations mean for our understanding of this particular variety of Buddhism?

Paul Harrison taught for over 20 years at Canterbury University in his native New Zealand before taking up a position at Stanford in 2007. At Stanford he is chair of the Religious Studies Department and co-director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies. His research concerns itself primarily with the interpretation of Buddhist literature, in particular Mahāyāna sūtras, but he is also active in the study of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts.

If I Give My Soul: Film Screening with Andrew Johnson

Apr 15, 2015  ·  7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.  ·  TBA

Film Screening and Discussion of "If I Give My Soul: Pentecostalism in Rio's Prisons" with filmmaker Andrew Johnson

"Paradox of Generosity" Doll Lecture by Christian Smith

Apr 22, 2015  ·  4:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m.  ·  TBA

Doll Lecture on Religion and Money to be given by Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

Smith is the co-author, with Hilary Davidson, of "The Paradox of Generosity:  Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose."

Determining why, when, and to whom people feel compelled to be generous affords invaluable insight into positive and problematic ways of life. Organ donation, volunteering, and the funding of charities can all be illuminated by sociological and psychological perspectives on how American adults conceive of and demonstrate generosity. Focusing not only on financial giving but on the many diverse forms generosity can take, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson show the deep impact usually good, sometimes destructive that giving has on individuals.
The Paradox of Generosity is the first study to make use of the cutting-edge empirical data collected in Smith's groundbreaking, multidisciplinary, five-year Science of Generosity Initiative. It draws on an extensive survey of 2,000 Americans, more than sixty in-depth interviews with individuals across twelve states, and analysis of over 1,000 photographs and other visual materials. This wealth of evidence reveals a consistent link between demonstrating generosity and leading a better life: more generous people are happier, suffer fewer illnesses and injuries, live with a greater sense of purpose, and experience less depression. Smith and Davidson also show, however, that to achieve a better life a person must practice generosity regularly-random acts of kindness are not enough.