How can rational people living in the 21st century believe that God speaks to them, and why should the rest of us take those people seriously? Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford University psychological anthropologist and winner of the 2014 Grawemeyer Award in Religion, will address that question during her presentation, “When God Talks Back,” which will take place Monday, April 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. A book signing and reception will follow the presentation.
“This will be one of our most lively and engaging Grawemeyer lectures,” said Rev. Dr. Shannon Craigo-Snell, Louisville Seminary professor of theology and faculty director of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. “Instead of asking ‘Is God real?’ she asks ‘How does God become real for people? She offers a compelling exploration of religious experience in evangelical communities and a captivating account of prayer as a way of training the mind to experience God.”
Luhrmann received the Grawemeyer award for the ideas presented in her book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God
(Vintage, 2012). She wrote the book after four years of fieldwork in Chicago and Northern California with Vineyard Christian Fellowship, a church whose members speak in tongues and pray for healing. She observed and interviewed church members and took part in prayer groups, Bible study and weekly worship. After extensive research, she concluded that the evangelical experience of God involves a sophisticated play of mind cultivated through both individual practice and communal support.
“Besides tracing the development of Pentecostalism and showing how questions of belief have changed in modern times, Luhrmann applies important theories from psychology and anthropology to explain what happens when evangelicals pray,” said Craigo-Snell.
Luhrmann’s visit coincides with visits to Louisville by the other 2014 Grawemeyer Award winners, who will discuss their winning works at programs hosted by the University of Louisville through mid-April. The University of Louisville presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The University of Louisville and Louisville Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. This year’s awards are $100,000 each.
The April 14 Tanya Luhrmann Grawemeyer lecture at Louisville Seminary is free and open to the public. No reservations are required, and parking is free. Louisville Seminary is located at 1044 Alta Vista Road, Louisville, Kentucky, 40205. For a complete list of Grawemeyer Award recipients and a schedule of their public talks, log onto www.grawemeyer.org