2015 J.J. Thiessen Lectures Series: Crude Awakenings: The Faith, Politics, and Crises of Oil in America’s Century
Following Luce’s lead, but with an eye to wider and longer trends, and a continental terrain centered by the United States but also encompassing Canada, these lectures will explore some of the ways that religion and oil together shaped existence for modern North Americans at the moment of their heightening authority in the twentieth century. It will pay particular attention to evangelical Protestants who, in disproportionate degrees, inhabited and worked America’s oil patches, weathered the violent disruptions of life on these boom-bust terrains, and theologized and politicized their encounter with soil and its subsurface wealth and all that this seemed to promise them, on earth and in heaven. Each of the three lectures will focus on a particularly momentous flashpoint in the life of North American oil and evangelicalism and pause for reflection on what this moment meant long-term for matters of faith and society in the twentieth century. In the process of tracking the chronology of God and black gold in the modern era, the lectures will also raise questions and curiosities pertaining to evangelicalism’s relationship to capitalism and globalization, energy and environment, notions of time and broad interests in politics.
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