The Collegian
Wednesday, October 05, 2022

'Religion's primary value is to sensitize people,' speaker says

Collegian Reporter

Mary C. Boys will speak about Jewish and Christian relations on Nov. 10 during the 22nd-annual Weinstein-Rosenthal Lectureship sponsored by the Religion Department.

The lectureship alternates between Jewish and Christian speakers each year, with one coming each year. Boys is the Christian speaker for the year, said Frank Eakin, chairman of Jewish and Christian Studies. Her lecture is called "Questions that Touch on the Heart of our Faith: The Cross in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue."

Boys is a professor of practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a historically Protestant seminary. She is also the author of several books, including "Has God Only One Blessing?" and "Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman's Experience." She is on sabbatical this semester writing a new book about relationships between Christians, Jews and the death of Christ, she said.

"Has God Only One Blessing?" uses Judaism to explain Christian ideas. She discusses interactions between people of various faiths in "Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman's Experience." The relationship between Judaism and Christianity is a theme in much of Boys' work.

She became interested in the study of religion in high school, she said. She double majored in religion and English while she was in college and taught high school religion for a few years.

"My major focus is religious education and theological education," she said.

Before joining the faculty at Union Theological Seminary, she taught for 17 years at Boston College, a Jesuit university.

She is a frequent guest speaker at colleges and religious institutions.

Boys was invited to speak at the university by Eakin.

Eakin is requiring that his Bible as Literature and Hebrew and Christian Wisdom Literature classes attend the lecture. The lecture works into the structure of his Hebrew and Christian Wisdom Literature class, which has read some of Boys's work, he said.

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The lecture is open to the public and both Boys and Eakin agreed that it is relevant to students who are not studying religion.

"In a broad sense, religion's primary value is to sensitize people," Eakin said.

Knowledge of religion is essential to students of political science and international relations especially, Boys said.

"If more people knew about religion, we wouldn't be in some of the conflicts that we're in," she said. "It's important to have a perspective on what religions have in common and how and why they are different."

Sophomore Alex Smith, a religion major in Eakin's Hebrew and Christian Wisdom Literature class, said understanding religion was important because many people used it to form the basis of ethics and morals. The relationship between Christians and Jews that will be explored in the lecture is integral to a basic understanding of religion.

During the past year, there have been two acts deemed anti-Semitic on campus. Most recently, a swastika was drawn on a picnic table outside of the T.C. Williams School of Law. These events have opened up a dialogue about tolerance, anti-Semitism and religion in general.

"We've had demonstrations on campus and numerous examples outside of campus that anti-Semitism is still very much alive," Eakin said. "If we can contribute to lessening or alleviating that, then this is more than worthwhile."

The lecture will be given at 8 p.m. in the Robins Pavilion at the Jepson Alumni Center.

Contact reporter Kaileigh Conolly at

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