The Making of a Racist

The Making of A Racist. In this powerful memoir, Charles Dew, the Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College, and one of America’s most respected historians of the South — particularly its history of slavery — turns the focus on his own life, which began not in the halls of enlightenment but in a society unequivocally committed to segregation.

Dew re-creates the midcentury American South of his childhood–in many respects a boy’s paradise, but one stained by Lost Cause revisionism and, worse, by the full brunt of Jim Crow. Through entertainments and “educational” books that belittled African Americans, as well as the living examples of his own family, Dew was indoctrinated in a white supremacy that, at best, was condescendingly paternalistic and, at worst, brutally intolerant. The fear that southern culture, and the “hallowed white male brotherhood,” could come undone through the slightest flexibility in the color line gave the Jim Crow mindset its distinctly unyielding quality. Dew recalls his father, in most regards a decent man, becoming livid over a black tradesman daring to use the front, and not the back, door.

The second half of the book shows how this former Confederate youth and descendant of Thomas Roderick Dew, one of slavery’s most passionate apologists, went on to reject his racist upbringing and become a scholar of the South and its deeply conflicted history. The centerpiece of Dew’s story is his sobering discovery of a price circular from 1860–an itemized list of humans up for sale. Contemplating this document becomes Dew’s first step in an exploration of antebellum Richmond’s slave trade that investigates the terrible–but, to its white participants, unremarkable–inhumanity inherent in the institution.

Dew’s wish with this book is to show how the South of his childhood came into being, poisoning the minds even of honorable people, and to answer the question put to him by Illinois Browning Culver, the African American woman who devoted decades of her life to serving his family: “Charles, why do the grown-ups put so much hate in the children?”

Please come to hear Professor Dew discuss his book on Sunday, March 5th at 11:20 am.  These lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examine issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, stewardship of the earth or other subjects of general community interest. These events are open to the entire community. There is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to these after Church events. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee and snacks before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed hearing this wonderful talk, you can see in online, thanks to Willinet!:

Videos of 2016 William Sloane Coffin Prize Speeches

All of the 2016 contestants who chose to make public the video of their speech are listed below. Just click the play button that appears, and the video should start.  The speeches are divided into two categories: Spirituality & Faith, and Social Justice & Activism.  The prizewinner in each category is at the top of the relevant column.  The sound quality is not as good this year, for which we apologize.  We are working on it, and hope to have the sound come direct from the microphone to the camera again next year!

In the Spirituality & Faith category:

Watch Nathan Leach, ’17, winner, give his prizewinning speech “Practicing Compassion in a Messy World”
Watch Ranana Dine ’16 give her speech “Snap, Crackle, Pop – or, Shattering My Religious Bubble”
Watch Abigail Matthew ’18 give her speech “Radical Jesus”

In the Social Justice & Activism category:

Watch Philemon Abel, ’19, winner, give her prizewinning speech “Poems on Being Black in America”
Watch Penny Sun ’16 give her prizewinning speech “An Activist Faith”
Watch Suiyi Wendy Tang ’19 give her speech “From Within the Mouth of Goliath: Just Another Asian American Folktale”

Sacred Space in a Secular World, November 2nd Hour

Landscapes

Nicolas C. Howe of the Williams College Environmental Studies Program will address the issue of Sacred Space in a Secular World at First Church’s Second Hour, November 6th, 11:20 am.  He will discuss how American environmentalists have navigated the religious/secular divide in battles over wilderness preservation.

His book Landscape of the Secular: Law, Religion and American Sacred Space was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. At Williams he studies the relationship between religious and environmental thought in America from the perspective of cultural geography and teaches in the environmental humanities.

To quote the University of Chicago Press website talking about this title:
“What does it mean to see the American landscape in a secular way?” asks Nicolas Howe at the outset of this innovative, ambitious, and wide-ranging book. It’s a surprising question because of what it implies: we usually aren’t seeing American landscapes through a non-religious lens, but rather as inflected by complicated, little-examined concepts of the sacred.

Fusing geography, legal scholarship, and religion in a potent analysis, Howe shows how seemingly routine questions about how to look at a sunrise or a plateau or how to assess what a mountain is both physically and ideologically, lead to complex arguments about the nature of religious experience and its implications for our lives as citizens. In American society—nominally secular but committed to permitting a diversity of religious beliefs and expressions—such questions become all the more fraught and can lead to difficult, often unsatisfying compromises regarding how to interpret and inhabit our public lands and spaces. A serious commitment to secularism, Howe shows, forces us to confront the profound challenges of true religious diversity in ways that often will have their ultimate expression in our built environment. This provocative exploration of some of the fundamental aspects of American life will help us see the land, law, and society anew.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed this fascinating talk, you can watch it below, thanks to our partners at Willinet!

Early New England Church Architecture with Prof. Michael Lewis

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On May 15th, Professor Michael J. Lewis, the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History at Williams will speak to us about Early New England Church architecture.  The Early New England Church is remarkable in every small-town.  These universally white structures were erected by local builders, joiners and occasionally by itinerant master carpenters. With no trained architects or schools of architecture in the country at the time, inspiration came from traditional designs and pattern books.  These structures are revered for their physical beauty, simplicity and elegance – and for their role in the early history of this country, the early churches of New England hold a special place in the American consciousness.

According to Steve Rosenthal, a photographer of New England Churches, “These are the buildings which give New England towns and villages a unique sense of place and define, in many minds, the New England character …  Collectively, they are as important to the cultural and architectural history of these villages as are the great cathedrals to the cities of Europe.”

Michael J. Lewis has taught American art and architecture at Williams College since 1993.  After receiving his B.A. from Haverford College in 1980, and two years at the University of Hannover Germany, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989.   He has taught at Bryn Mawr College; McGill University, Montreal; and the University of Natal, South Africa.  A critic of architecture, he writes for a wide variety of publications.  He is the author of, among others, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (2001), The Gothic Revival (2002), American Art and Architecture (2006), and the prize-winning August Reichensperger: The Politics of the German Gothic Revival (1993).  His research interests include  architectural theory; utopian and communal societies; and the nature of creativity.  In 2008 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the completion of City of Refuge: the Other Utopia, a study of millennial town planning.  Lewis was named Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art in 2008.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed this fascinating talk, you can watch it below, thanks to our partners at Willinet!

First Church & Williamstown: 250 Years

250LogoFirst Church & Williamstown: 250 years Together Exhibit

The exhibit to help us celebrate our 250th anniversary, First Church & Williamstown: 250 Years Together, is now installed at the Williamstown Historical Museum. Please do try to see this exhibit during the next few months. This exhibit is likely to be the final temporary exhibit before the Historical Museum moves to the South Center School (also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse). Moira Jones would have loved to have even more time to do the extensive research for this exhibit, but life and time were against that plan. It was not easy to choose the exact events to include in the exhibit, out of all the things which have occurred at First Church, Williamstown over 250 years. The Historical Museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 am to 3 pm.

Tour of exhibit May 18th 6 pm

Moira Jones would like to encourage you to see this exhibit on Wednesday, May 18th, and is offering to conduct a tour of the exhibit for you on that day at 6 pm. Please mark this on your calendars, and get this personal tour from the person who put together the exhibit, before she leaves town at the end of this month.

The Williamstown Historical Museum is currently in the back of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library. To get there, after walking in the front doors of the library, just keep walking straight ahead. You will eventually come to a sign indicating a left turn to get you to the Museum. Once you have made that left turn, you will see the Museum door straight ahead. Moira looks forward to seeing you on the 18th!

If you missed the talk on this topic given at the Historical Museum last November, please watch this video provided by Willinet:

The Gospel of Mark & Utopian Social Dreaming – April 24

MJohnson-Debaufre_squareMelanie Johnson-Debaufre’s work extends beyond the classroom and library, into churches, popular media, and community groups and architectural sites in Turkey.  Through her research, teaching, and speaking, she explores how the study of early Christianity and its context in the Roman Empire provides insight into contemporary debates about the Bible, religion, sexuality, and globalization.

Her scholarship centers around the traditions of the earliest Christianities (historical Jesus, Q, Pauline communities) in the context of the Roman empire, with interest in both the ethics and practices of historiography and contemporary reconstructions of Christian origins; feminist and liberationist hermeneutics; and rhetorical analysis of biblical texts and their histories of interpretation. She is currently working on a book that draws on theories of space and place, postcolonial and feminist thought, and material culture to think about how Paul’s letters, read spatially, map out the complex and contested emergence of the material and discursive space “Christian” over the course of the first century.

Dr. Johnson-DeBaufre holds a master’s degree and doctorate from Harvard Divinity School and is ordained in the American Baptist Churches, USA.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed this fascinating talk, you can watch it below, thanks to our partners at Willinet!

Exceeding Expectations: Beyond COP21, with Bill Moomaw, April 10th

MoomawSq

The First Congregational Church of Williamstown is hosting a talk by William R. Moomaw, lead author of five U.N. Intergovernmental Panels on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports. Moomaw will speak on “Exceeding Expectations: Beyond the Climate Agreements at COP21. Moomaw attended last December’s panel in Paris. He will describe what happened in Paris outside the official boundaries of COP21—among the regions, the states, the cities, the private sector business groups, the municipalities, and individual organizations.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be at 11:20 am, April 10th, in the church’s Community Hall, 906 Main Street, in Williamstown. It is one of the church’s Second Hour programs, which follow the regular 10 am Sunday morning service.

Moomaw is Emeritus Professor of International Environmental Policy and Founding Director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He was a coordinating lead author of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chapter on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and for the special report on renewable energy due in 2010. He was a lead author of three other IPCC reports (1995, 2005 and 2007). The work of the IPCC was recognized with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Previously he taught for 26 years at Williams College, which in 2013 bestowed a Bicentennial Medal on him for his work combining science and policy to address climate change. He recently served as Chief Science Officer for Earthwatch Institute, and is now on the Board. Moomaw and his wife, Margot, live in a zero net energy home in Williamstown.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed hearing this wonderful talk, you can see in online, thanks to Willinet!:

Ethical Oil? with David Bond, March 13th

Billboard Gulf_Coast

On Sunday, March 13th at 11:20 am, First Church will present: Ethical oil? a discussion with Dr. David Bond, Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College.

Working at the intersection of hydrocarbon disasters and governable forms of life, David Bond is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the study of crude oil, the environment, and science. His dissertation is an ethnographic account of how scientists and officials scrambled to get a handle on the recent BP Oil Spill. His research shows how this deepwater blowout went from a sprawling mess to a manageable problem by first transforming the ocean into a scientific laboratory within which the scope of the oil spill could be pinned down. Disasters, in this reckoning, are productive events that often instantiate new understandings of what normal life consist of after the fact of its disruption. Turning an ethnographic eye to a wide range of hydrocarbon disasters in the United States as well as the destruction and outrage they incited, Bond is currently putting together a manuscript that offers an environmental history of the hydrocarbon present. Bond has conducted ethnographic research on how oil spills, broadly defined, have instigated new kinds of knowledge on the vulnerability of life in Ecuador, India, Puerto Rico, and all along the Gulf Coast. His work has been supported by the Wenner-Gran Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Bond studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research and has taught at SUNY Albany and the Bard Prison Initiative at Bard College. He was a visiting faculty member in anthroplogy at Bennington for the 2013-14 academic year and returns as faculty and senior associate in the Center for the Advancement of Public Action for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

Video of 2015 William Sloane Coffin Prize Speech

Only one of the 2015 contestants chose to make public the video of their speech. Just click the play button that appears, and the video should start.  The William Sloane Coffin Prize speeches are divided into two categories: Spirituality & Faith, and Social Justice & Activism.  

In the Social Justice & Activism category:

Watch Yazmine Nichols, ’15 give her prizewinning speech “Are we satisfied? Christ as activist”

250th Anniversary Historical Talk on Willinet!

250Logo

If you didn’t get a chance to see the talk First Church & Williamstown: 250 Years Together on November 14th, given at the Williamstown Historical Museum, it is now available to watch on Willinet! You can see the film here:

Videos of 2014 William Sloane Coffin Prize Speeches

All of the 2014 contestants who chose to make public the video of their speech are listed below. Just click the play button that appears, and the video should start.  The speeches are divided into two categories: Spirituality & Faith, and Social Justice & Activism.  The prizewinner in each category is at the top of the relevant column.  The sound quality is not as good this year, for which we apologize.  We are working on it, and hope to have the sound come direct from the microphone to the camera again next year!

In the Spirituality & Faith category:

Watch Teddy Cohan, ’16, winner, give his prizewinning speech “Reclaiming the American Dream”
Watch Won Jun Kuk ’14 give his speech “Redefining Hyphenated America”
Watch Yasick Nemenov ’16 give his speech “On the Protests in Ukraine”

In the Social Justice & Activism category:

Watch Chelsea Thomeer ’17, winner, give her prizewinning speech “The Inaudible Parenthetical”
Watch Michael Druker ’17 give his prizewinning speech “Emotional Vulnerability in the Age of Individualism”
Watch Pat Megley ’14 give his speech “Living Generously”

100 Years in White: 1914 to 2014

First Congregational Church

What do shirt collars and the current building of the First Congregational Church have in common?  How did Williams College create the circumstances making it necessary to redesign the architecture of First Church?  Some of this information is common knowledge in Williamstown, but you may be surprised by some information that has newly been connected to this story.  Moira Jones ties new information with the old to tell the whole story of why the 1869 building was renovated before its 50th birthday. This session of our “Second Hour at the Meetinghouse” series for the 2014-15 academic year was repeated at the Williamstown Historical Museum.

In November 2014 an exhibition on this topic was given at the Williamstown Historical Museum.  If you didn’t happen to attend the opening talk for that exhibition, here’s the video thanks to Willinet:

Video: Moses in Exodus, Parts 1 & 2

Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online.  You can watch it here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.

Edan Dekel speaks on Moses in Exodus, Part I:

Edan Dekel speaks on Moses in Exodus, Part II:

Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently:

Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm

Mondays 10-11 pm

Tuesdays 9-10 am

Thursdays 2-3 pm

Is the “End of Time” at hand?

end-times

Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online. You can watch it here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.  Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently: Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm, Mondays 10-11 pm, Tuesdays 9-10 am, Thursdays 2-3 pm.

Is the “End of Time” at hand?” with Prof. Glenn Shuck

 

About the Series

Physics & Faith

CERN, European Organisation for Nuclear Research, Switzerland -Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online.  You can watch it here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.

William Wooters & Stuart Crampton speak on Physics & Faith:

Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently:

Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm

Mondays 10-11 pm

Tuesdays 9-10 am

Thursdays 2-3 pm

Hoosic River Restoration

Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online. You can watch it here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.  Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently: Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm, Mondays 10-11 pm, Tuesdays 9-10 am, Thursdays 2-3 pm.

Hoosic River Restoration with Judy Grinnell

 

About the Series

First Church Video

Video: Stewart Burns 16th Street Baptist- 50th Anniversary

Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online. You can watch it here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.  Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently:

Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm, Mondays 10-11 pm, Tuesdays 9-10 am, Thursdays 2-3 pm.
About the Series

Stewart Burns on the 50th Anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church

Videos of 2013 William Sloane Coffin Prize Speeches

All of the 2013 contestants who chose to make public the video of their speech are listed below. Click the icon and the video should load. Then you need to click the play button that appears.  The speeches are divided into two categories: Spirituality & Faith, and Social Justice & Activism.  The prizewinner in each category is at the top of the relevant column.  The sound quality is not as good this year, for which we apologize.  We are working on it, and hope to have the sound come direct from the microphone to the camera again next year!

Videos: Dick Ford on the Parables of Jesus in a Modern Context

Thanks to our partners at Willinet, video of the following second hour at the meeting house series is available online. You can click on the links here, go to the Willinet website and search on “First Congregational” or, if the timing is right, watch the program on TV.

Showtimes on Willinet for 2nd Hour@theMeetinghouse videos are currently:

Sundays 10:30-11:30 am, & 8-9 pm

Mondays 10-11 pm

Tuesdays 9-10 am

Thursdays 2-3 pm

About the Series

Part 1 Jesus’ Parable of the Wicked Tenants and America’s Invasion of Iraq

(27 minutes)

 

 

Part 2 Jesus’ Parable of the Unjust Judge and Climate Change

(41 minutes)

 

 

Part 3 Jesus’ Parable of the Dishonest Steward and the War in Afghanistan

(43 minutes)

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