Remembering Robert Bellah at the AAR

The 2013 Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Baltimore will be hosting a special session in memory of Robert Bellah, who died on July 30. “Remembering Robert Bellah Bellah1(1927-2013)” will join students, distinguished colleagues, and friends of Bellah to share memories of his life and work. If you plan on attending, this session will take place on Sunday, November 24 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Robert N. Bellah was the Elliott Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He coauthored The Good Society and Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has sold more than 500,000 copies. His other books include Imagining Japan, The Broken Covenant,and Beyond Belief. In 2000 President Clinton awarded Bellah the National Humanities Medal.

Perhaps best known for these bestselling books, Bellah was a truly visionary leader in the social study of religion. For more than four decades, he examined the role of religion in modern and premodern societies, attempting to discern how religious meaning is formed and how it shapes ethical and political Bellah2practices. Duke University Press’s The Robert Bellah Reader (2006) brings together twenty-eight of Bellah’s seminal essays. Through critical and constructive inquiry, this Reader probes many of our deepest social and cultural quandaries, quandaries that put modernity itself, with all its immense achievements, at mortal risk. Through the practical self-understanding such inquiry spurs, Bellah shows how we may share responsibility for the world we have made and seek to heal it.

Professor Steven M. Tipton, co-editor of this work and one of the panelists for the AAR session, teaches sociology and religion at Emory University and its Candler School of Theology, where he is a Professor and Director of the Graduate Division of Religion. In a recent piece about Bellah’s legacy, Tipton explains that “Bellah illuminates the often implicit moral visions we hold and contest in the modern world . . . . Deep is the well of the past, and from it Robert Bellah drew living water. Bright and clear and encompassing, the flow of his work will go on through ever-widening waves of resonance in our thinking and arguing over religion.”

We’re excited that the AAR session and its distinguished panelists will help pay tribute to Bellah’s outstanding intellectual contributions. If you cannot attend, please consider picking up a copy of the Reader in order to enjoy Bellah’s legacy.

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