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American Religion

Searching for a Livable World: Atlantis, Atlanta, and American Zion

When: June 8, 2022, 8:15 am - Wednesday

Where: Burton 324

Prevenient Sessions

Session Abstract

Scholars have referred to the United States as “a nation of seekers.” Such a statement is particularly true in religion. This session will focus on three unique expressions of American seeking.  The subjects are quite different: Edgar Cayce and Maxine Klein Asher, Mormons pushing West, and African American and white co-religionists. What they are searching for is quite dissimilar: the lost continent of Atlantis, an American Zion, and racial harmony. Yet, all of them represent a drive to seek and search for something more in this life, not just the life to come.

 

Paper Abstracts

John Young, Turner School of Theology/Amridge University, “Longing for a Better Country: The Stone-Campbell Movement and the Search for Atlantis”

Although hunting for Plato’s mythical lost kingdom using supernatural abilities might seem an unlikely pursuit for anyone associated with the Stone-Campbell Movement, not one but two figures with SCM ties played key roles in the psychic-archaeological search for Atlantis during the twentieth century. This presentation will introduce the colorful life stories of Edgar Cayce and Maxine Klein Asher, and explore the ties of each to the larger Stone-Campbell Movement. It will also outline Cayce’s influence on Asher, their respective beliefs about the existence, nature, and destruction of Atlantis, and their contributions to the wider worlds of Atlantis research and speculation.

 

Wesley Constandse, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, “The Crucible of Tragedy: The Willie and Martin Handcart Companies”

Members of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies were part of a new religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who were driven west by desire to escape persecution and practice their religious beliefs as they saw fit. Many wanted to leave the United States to establish “Zion,” a place where they could live peacefully. This paper addresses the role that faith played in their decisions to move westward, to halt their journey along the way, or to return home, and how the unique experiences of the second wave of migrants affected their ability to endure hardship.

 

Wes Crawford, Abilene Christian University, “Taking a Page from History: What the Race Relations Workshops Can Teach Present-Day Racial Justice Activists”

Between 1966 and 1968, a series of three race-relations workshops took place among African American and white leaders within Churches of Christ to discuss the problem of racism within the denomination and to plan a course of action for the future. More than half a century later, new personalities have rekindled efforts toward racial justice within Churches of Christ. By offering a comparison between the race-relations workshops that occurred in the late 1960s with present-day racial activism within Churches of Christ, this study seeks to equip modern-day leaders in their quest for denominational racial equality.

Speakers

Todd M. Brenneman, Faulkner University, Convener

  • John Young, Turner School of Theology/Amridge University, “Longing for a Better Country: The Stone-Campbell Movement and the Search for Atlantis”
  • Wesley Constandse, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, “The Crucible of Tragedy: The Willie and Martin Handcart Companies”
  • Wes Crawford, Abilene Christian University, “Taking a Page from History: What the Race Relations Workshops Can Teach Present-Day Racial Justice Activists”
  • Nathaniel Wiewora, Harding University, Respondent

Registration Open Now

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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