Sunday, February 4, 2018

Martin Marty

Yesterday (Saturday), Ellen and I took the train into Chicago, and then a cab to the University Club at 76 E. Monroe (near the Art Institute), to attend a conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Martin Marty Center of the University of Chicago, and the 90th birthday of Martin Marty himself. I knew Martin Marty 62 years ago as a seminarian at the U of C. Marty was a graduate student assistant to Prof. Jerald Brauer, American Church historian, with whom I took a couple of courses, and I have been aware of Marty's subsequent career as a preeminent historian of religion in the public realm. He has been prolific as an author: over 35 books and hundreds of articles. He is also just a lovely human being, not at all full of himself. The conference assembled a dozen or so of his students, each quite notable in their own careers, to offer papers and reflections on issues relating to the mission of the Marty Center:  "the public understanding of religion." It was a stimulating afternoon, thinking about what "public" means, what, if anything, is "unique"  about American religion, and can we foster American diversity and pluralism in today's politically divided climate? I had a brief opportunity to speak to Marty and remind him of a group of my friends, and he remembered us all. Ellen and I had been in this building before, years ago, to attend a lecture by our friend, art historian Roger Hull. But the space we were in yesterday was new: two stories had been added to the building and we were sitting on what had originally been the roof! It was a pretty posh space now.

                Martin Marty being interviewed by a former student. 

                             The conference room we met in

The lounge and bar area of the new space, with a fine view of Lake Michigan. 

Jerry took our picture before we left. Bow ties are in honor of Marty, who always wears one. I'm holding one of his books, and Ellen is holding the invitation to the conference with his picture. My bow tie was one my brother, Stewart, used in his barbershop quartet.

Crossing the Chicago River on our walk back to Union Station. It was windy! 

No comments:

Post a Comment