The Grawemeyer Award in Religion is made possible by the creative generosity of the late H. Charles Grawemeyer. The purpose of the Award is to honor annually the most significant contributions to religious and spiritual understanding. Louisville Seminary, jointly with the University of Louisville, awards the $100,000 prize to honor and publicize creative and significant insights into the relationship between human beings and the divine. The award also recognizes ways in which this relationship may inspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity, or meaning, either individually or in community. Competition is open to persons of all religious and cultural world views and traditions for works presented or published within eight years of the award date.
Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford University Professor of Anthropology, received the prize for the ideas set forth in her 2012 book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.
Luhrmann 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 award director Shannon Craigo-Snell, a theology professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
“Instead of asking ‘Is God real?’ she asks ‘How does God become real for people?” Craigo-Snell said. “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.”