Highlighting Sin as Seen Through the Lens of Race–2020 Schaff Memorial Lectures

November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020
Nov. 10, 2020, 7:00 p.m. "In the Jail: Systemic Racism, Contemplation, and the Problem of 'Seeing'" Nov. 11, 2020, 7:00 p.m. "Reconsidering the Fall: Desire Gone Awry and Its Consequences" Nov. 12, 2020, 7:00 p.m. "On the Way to Union? How 'Divine Darkness' Convicts the Sin of Racism"

A Three-Part Webinar Series


Dr. Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor Emerita at Cambridge University, will present the annual Schaff Lectures during a three-evening webinar series Nov. 10-12, 2020.

Each evening of the series, Dr. Coakley will offer one presentation with interactive time afterward with those attending. In her three presentations, Dr. Coakley will address race/’racism first as a ‘theological’ issue, and then consider the nature of sin and the Fall. While it is not usual to put these things together in contemporary American culture, many would say that racism is just a social/economic/rights/liberation problem. But that is precisely the issue at stake. Coakley will argue that we cannot understand race/racism in the U.S. and its history without thinking afresh about how the darkness of sin, the darkness of white racialized visualization and projection, and (surprise!) the dazzling darkness of contemplative transformation remain weirdly entangled in our (post) Christian culture, and what it takes to newly understand their relation.

All sessions are free and open to the public. To receive the link for the series, please register below.


Nov. 10, 2020, 7:00 p.m. “In the Jail: Systemic Racism, Contemplation, and the Problem of ‘Seeing'”

Nov. 11, 2020, 7:00 p.m. “Reconsidering the Fall: Desire Gone Awry and Its Consequences”

Nov. 12, 2020, 7:00 p.m. “On the Way to Union? How ‘Divine Darkness’ Convicts the Sin of Racism”


The Rev. Dr. Sarah Coakley is the Norris-Hulse Professor Emerita at Cambridge University and a professorial research fellow at Australian Catholic University. She is also an honorary fellow of Oriel College, Oxford; an emeritus fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge; a fellow of the British Academy (since 2019); and a member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Coakley holds honorary degrees from the universities of Lund, St. Andrews, Toronto (St. Michael’s College), and London (Heythrop College). Born in London, Coakley was educated at Cambridge (B.A./M.A., Ph.D.) and Harvard (Th.M.) universities. She held earlier academic positions at Lancaster University (1976-1991), Oriel College, Oxford (1991-1993), Harvard Divinity School (1993-2007; Mallinckrodt Professor, 1995-2007), and a visiting professorship at Princeton University (2003-2004). Coakley gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Aberdeen in 2012. She has authored numerous volumes on systematic theology and is the author of the forthcoming Spiritual Healing: Science, Meaning, and Discernment.