Department ofReligion

Robert Bellah


The seventh annual David and Marilyn Knutson lecture will be delivered by Dr. Robert N. Bellah on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 7:30 p.m., in Lagerquist Concert Hall of the Mary Baker Russell Music Building. The lecture is entitled, “The Modern Project in the Light of Human Evolution.”

Robert N. Bellah stands among the foremost sociologists of religion in the world and has recently published one of his greatest works Religion in Human Evolution (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011). Of it, Hans Joas, The University of Chicago and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, has said: “This book is the opus magnum of the greatest living sociologist of religion. Nobody since Max Weber has produced such an erudite and systematic comparative world history of religion in its earlier phases. Robert Bellah opens new vistas for the interdisciplinary study of religion and for global inter-religious dialogue.” Donald Shriver wrote in Tikkun: “If we read this book, adherents of every modern religion—especially Jews, Christians, and Muslims—will find vast new reasons for gratitude for our ancestors human and extra-human. We meet in these pages eloquent summaries of how the evolution of the human mind may be the greatest mystery of all.”

Bellah is Elliott Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of many important books on the sociology of religion and religion in American life, including Tokugawa Religion, Beyond Belief: Religion in a Post-Traditional World, The Broken Covenant, Habits of the Heart: Individualism in American Life, and The Good Society. In 2000, President Clinton awarded Bellah the National Humanities Medal and, in 2007, he received the American Academy of Religion Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. More about the speaker is available on line:

The David and Marilyn Knutson Lectureship of the Department of Religion was established in memory of David Knutson and in honor of Marilyn Knutson. David was an alumnus of Pacific Lutheran University and a long-time member of the Religion Department. Marilyn, also a PLU alumna, taught in the Tacoma public schools for many years. This lectureship aims to bring to campus recognized scholars who creatively work within the historical, scriptural, and theological sources of a living faith tradition, bringing those sources into dialogue with contemporary questions and challenges. As an annual event sponsored by the Department of Religion, the lectureship serves as a lasting testimony to the intellectual gifts and generosity of spirit so admirably expressed in the lives and teaching of David and Marilyn Knutson.

The lecture is free and open to the public.