U.Va. to host book launch for Benjamin C. Ray’s Satan and Salem: The Witch-Hunt Crisis of 1692

Ben RayOn Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the U.Va. Department of Religious Studies and the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion will host a book launch for Satan and Salem: The Witch-Hunt Crisis of 1692 by Benjamin C. Ray. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Religious Studies Faculty Lounge in Gibson 442. Erik Midelfort, Julian Bishko Emeritus Professor of History, will comment on the book. Light refreshments will be served and the public is invited to attend.

From the publisher’s website:

The result of a perfect storm of factors that culminated in a great moral catastrophe, the Salem witch trials of 1692 took a breathtaking toll on the young English colony of Massachusetts. Over 150 people were imprisoned, and nineteen men and women, including a minister, were executed by hanging. The colonial government, which was responsible for initiating the trials, eventually repudiated the entire affair as a great “delusion of the Devil.”


In Satan and Salem, Benjamin Ray looks beyond single-factor interpretations to offer a far more nuanced view of why the Salem witch-hunt spiraled out of control. Rather than assigning blame to a single perpetrator, Ray assembles portraits of several major characters, each of whom had complex motives for accusing his or her neighbors. In this way, he reveals how religious, social, political, and legal factors all played a role in the drama. Ray’s historical database of court records, documents, and maps yields a unique analysis of the geographic spread of accusations and trials, ultimately showing how the witch-hunt resulted in the execution of so many people—far more than any comparable episode on this side of the Atlantic.


Benjamin C. Ray is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the Director of the award-winning Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and an associate editor of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.

To purchase the book from the University of Virginia Press website, click here.

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer shortlisted for PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

Charles Marsh

Charles Marsh’s newest publication Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been shortlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, awarded for excellence in the art of biography. This prize of $5,000 will go to the author of a distinguished work published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The winning title should be a work of exceptional literary, narrative and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research. The winner will be chosen May 13th. For more information and a list of the other authors on the shortlist, click here.

Kingdom Politics book launch Thursday April 30th at St. Paul’s Memorial

Kingdom Politics bookcover

We’re excited to invite you to join us for the official launch of Kingdom Politics by the Project’s own Kristopher Norris and Sam Speers! The book launch will be held on Thursday, April 30th from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville. A light reception will be catered by Harvest Moon.

With a research grant from the Project on Lived Theology, Kris and Sam began this project in the spring of 2012. They traveled to Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Baltimore, small-town Indiana, and Atlanta to talk with churches about the connections between faith and politics. Kingdom Politics: In Search of a New Political Imagination for Today’s Church is a narrative account of their journey to discover a new vision of faithful political engagement for the church, embodied in the ordinary practices of five diverse congregations. In it, they wrestle with the questions: What does it mean for the church to be political? How should the church make decisions about when to engage or avoid politics? And what visions of politics are communicated by the actual practices of congregations—their lived theologies?

For more information about Kingdom Politics, check out the website www.kingdompolitics.com and click here to read an article by Kris and Sam about the book.

PLT to host workshop on social service work

Josh Kaufman-HornerOn Saturday, April 25, at 10 a.m., the Project on Lived Theology will host a workshop entitled, “Parables of Privilege Meeting Poverty: a conversation on the posture of social service workers.” Participants will discuss privilege, poverty, and faith-based service with Josh Kaufman-Horner, co-founder of Mission Year. Josh will talk about how to navigate difference and avoid some of the pitfalls of various kinds of privilege.

The workshop will be held in Cabell Hall 364 at the University of Virginia. Coffee and pastries will be served.

For three decades Josh Kaufman-Horner has supported individuals and communities coming alongside marginalized populations. Josh was founding pastor of the New Hope community in Oakland and co-founder of Mission Year. In recent years Josh has assisted families recovering from homelessness and trauma through The Salvation Army. Josh has also partnered with Leroy Barber working for Word Made Flesh as Associate Director of Community Action, Research, and Policy. Josh is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia. In these roles Josh has served as innovator, counselor, mediator, provocateur, administrator, janitor, and advocate depending on the need of the moment.

For more information and updates, see the Facebook event here.