Speaker series opens with expert on Russia

It’s like the 92nd Street Y, right here in the burbs.

I’ve blogged in the past about the tremendous speaker series at St. Theresa’s Church in Briarcliff Manor.

Ken Woodward, a contributing editor at Newsweek and former religion editor there, is a parishioner at St. Theresa’s and uses his contacts to bring in big-name speakers.

And it’s all for free. At 7:30 p.m.

The winter/spring series opens Monday and may be the best line-up yet.

andrew_nagorski.jpgOn Monday (Feb. 4): Andrew Nagorski (right), longtime foreign correspondent for Newsweek and twice the magazine’s Moscow Bureau Chief. His topic: “The Greatest Battle: Putin, Stalin and the struggle to face the truth about Russia’s history.”

On Monday, Feb. 25: Scott Appleby, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and former director of the university’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. His topic: Adrift or awakened: Catholic leadership and authority after the abuse crisis.”

Appleby is a terrific and forceful writer on Catholic matters. I heard him address the U.S. bishops in 2002, at the height of the crisis, and can attest that he is also an excellent speaker.

On Monday, March 3: Jack Miles, distinguished professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of California, Miles is a winner of a McArthur “genius” award and of a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for “God: A Biography.” His topic: “The missionary moment: Christian America in the world war of ideas.”

He’ll focus on the common belief in the Muslim world that the U.S. is a Christian nation waging war on Islam. Miles’ biography of God is a great read.

On Monday, May 5, Father Donald Cozzens, professor of religious studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland and former rector of St. Mary’s Seminary there. He has written five books on the Catholic priesthood including his latest, Freeing Celibacy. His topic: “A priesthood in crisis, a church in trouble: Is there light in this darkness.”

Cozzens has been a tremendously provocative writer in recent years. His book The Changing Face of the Priesthood directly and honestly addressed the question of why a large percentage of Catholic priests are gay. His book seemed to open the way for Catholic scholars to discuss the subject. At St. Theresa’s he’ll discuss the steep decline in vocations.

St. Theresa’s is a small church with ample parking. There’s not a bad seat (or pew). If you attend, you won’t be disappointed.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.