Freeing Despair

Dr. Bryan Wagoner
Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies Director,
Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy
Davis & Elkins College

Sunday, October 15
6:30-8:00 p.m. – Sanctuary
Refreshments at 6:00 p.m. in St. Andrews Hall

Arguably the ‘fourth temptation’ faced by Christ in his encounter with the Canaanite or Syrophoenician woman, ethnocentrism entails an uncritical focus on one’s own community. In Appalachia, that same temptation has produced a marked lack of imagination and curiosity and led to a fierce delineation of insiders versus outsiders. It is this cultural benchmark that perpetuates despair from the margins, yet the same ethnocentrism seems to provide Appalachians with a key aspect of their cultural identity.

This lecture will explore the sociological and theological implications of despair from the margins by juxtaposing a robust conception of freedom.

Dr. Bryan Wagoner is Program Coordinator of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Director of the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV, a PC(USA)-related institution.  Wagoner received an MDiv and STM from Yale Divinity School, and a PhD from Harvard University. His areas of research and teaching interests include human rights, secularism and religious identity, and 19th and 20th Century theology. His book Prophetic Interruptions: Critical Theory, Emancipation, and Religion in Paul Tillich, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer, will be published in October 2017.  Wagoner is a Ruling Elder at Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elkins, WV.

About the Salzman Lecture Series

This lecture series was established in 1998 to honor the memory of Lewinsville elder and Salzman-wpoutstanding Presbyterian layman, Howard Salzman. The annual lecture is an opportunity for reflection on three areas central to Howard’s own ministry: public affairs, global missions, and Christian education. Howard was an active contributor to evolving Presbyterian issues and programs during his 25 years at Lewinsville. In addition to his service as commissioner to the National Capital Presbytery, he was also vice chair of the Global Mission Ministry Unit of the General Assembly.

Professionally, Howard’s career included serving as an economist for the Pan American Union, and later, as a program executive for the Organization of American States. When he retired, he was Director of the Office of International Cooperation.

Previous lecturers have included: Jim Wallis, E.J. Dionne, Glenn Tinder, LeRoy Walters, Katherine Marshall and Philip Wogaman.