Symposium on “God, Freedom, and Public Life”

Oct 6, 2011
Mandel Hall
1131 East 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Jean Bethke ElshtainUniversity of Chicago

Francis Cardinal George, OMIArchbishop of Chicago

Hans JoasUniversity of Chicago

Martin MartyUniversity of Chicago Divinity School

Co-sponsored by the Committee on Social Thought

The Lumen Christi Institute is pleased to co-sponsor a symposium at the University of Chicago entitled “God, Freedom, and Public Life” on the occasion of the publication of Francis Cardinal George’s book God in Action: How Faith in God can Address the Challenges of the World.

The symposium featured contributions from Jean Bethke Elshtain (University of Chicago), Hans Joas (University of Chicago), Martin Marty (University of Chicago), and Francis Cardinal George, OMI (Archbishop of Chicago).

Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941-2013) was the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the University of Chicago Divinity School, with appointments in Political Science and the Committee on International Relations and holder of the Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom, Georgetown University. Elshtain is the author of Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought and Augustine and the Limits of Politics.


Francis Cardinal George, OMI (1937-2015) served as Archbishop of Chicago for seventeen years. A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Cardinal George as­sumed a prominent position among U.S. Cardinals, serving as the Pres­ident of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010. He earned a PhD in Philosophy from Tulane University and a Doc­torate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University Urbaniana in Rome. His other books include The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Fath, Communion and Culture and God in Action: How Faith in God Addresses the Challenges of the World.

Hans Joas is the Ernst Troeltsch Professor for the Sociology of Religion at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from Freie Universität Berlin in 1979 (G. H. Mead: A Contemporary Re-examination of His Thought, MIT Press, 1985, 1997). Among his many prizes and awards are the Niklas Luhmann Prize in 2010; in 2012, an honorary doctorate in Theology from Universität Tübingen; in 2013, an honorary doctorate in Sociology from Uppsala University and the Hans Kilian Award; in 2015, the Max Planck Research Award; in 2017 the Prix Paul Ricoeur, in 2018 the Theological Prize Salzburg and in 2022 the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award of the German Sociological Association. .
Among his other books in English are Pragmatism and Social Theory 1993; The Creativity of Action 1996; The Genesis of Values 2000; War and Modernity 2003; Do We Need Religion? On Experiences of Self-Transcendence 2008; The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights 2013; Faith as an Option: Possible Futures for Christianity 2014. Together with Wolfgang Knoebl he published Social Theory 2009 and War in Social Thought: Hobbes to the Present 2013. Together with Robert Bellah he edited The Axial Age and Its Consequences 2011.

Martin Marty, an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he taught for 35 years and where the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion has since been founded to promote public religion endeavors. The author of over fifty books, Marty has written the three-volume Modern American Religion as well as Politics, Religion and the Common Good.