The Madison, WI background

Agenda for a Prophetic Faith continues a series that ran in Madison, Wisconsin, for some fifteen years from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s.

During most of its history, the series was organized by the staff and friends of Madison Campus Ministry, the campus ministry on the University of Wisconsin–Madison of the American Baptist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, and The United Methodist Church.

During its many years of existence, the Agenda for a Prophetic Faith was the largest and longest running lecture series on religion and politics in the country.

While discussing the history of the Agenda lecture series, I must mention the leadership of J. Mark Thomas of Madison, WI, formerly a professor of sociology at Madison College and before that a friend and colleague at the University of Chicago. Our program was shaped in many ways by our studies in the Ethics and Society field at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where we studied with Al Pitcher, Gibson Winter, and Langdon Gilkey.

In the meantime, we have received many compliments on our graphic design for this lecture series. For the quality of this graphic, we owe thanks to Gary Aamodt, formerly of AR Editions, Inc., of Madison, Wisconsin, who arranged for the original graphic design for the Agenda for a Prophetic Faith lecture series. Thanks, Gary!

"Brave New Planet" Conference

In 2011 Progressive Christians Uniting took on the Climate Change question by organizing a large conference featuring climate activist Bill McKibben of in Claremont. Details of that event are captured on the conference's webpage .

Why this lecture series?

Why a project with the Biblical-sounding name, "Agenda for a Prophetic Faith?" And why, for our first lecture series, the title "It's worse than it looks, but there is a way forward," a title at once both provocative and reassuring?

The title is a take off from the title of a recent book, It's Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Drs. Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, and Thomas Mann, of The Brookings Institution, both of Washington, DC.

In this book, one of the most stimulating books of the 2012 electoral season, the authors suggest that our governing system of checks and balances has been corrupted by an ideological style of politics which threatens the very foundations of our democracy. Their analysis gains weight by the fact that two prominent political interpreters, one from the center-left and the other from the center-right, agree on their assessment of the state of things.

We have invited Dr. Ornstein, the conservative member of this duo, to Claremont to anchor our series because of the potential he represents to deepen our understanding of the reasons for our dissatisfaction with the political campaign this fall, but also because he and his co-writer Mann outline an eminently sensible way forward in our attempt to revive and heal our political system. For some late commentary on how the media and the public have received their message, check out Media Bungling.

But there are other political issues that were not adequately discussed in the recent election, and we have invited other prominent commentators to help us plumb the depths of these issues: on the science of global warming, Dr. James Hansen, of NASA; on the Dream Act and a just immigration policy, Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the United Methodist Church; on the problem of mass incarceration, the Reverend Romal Tune, prison reform advocate; and on the question of how to progress toward a more civil society, James Carroll of the Boston Globe.

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Agenda for a Prophetic Faith

is a program of

Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU),

an expression of social concern among various Christian churches in Southern California.

Responsible for the content: Dr. James A. Dwyer.

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A Prophet ‘…is a person who knows what time it is.’
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
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