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The Quality of Mercy: Justice, Forgiveness, and Public Discourse – Debating Repentance and Redemption in an Era of “Cancel Culture”

Speech Acts series hosted by Fordham Center on Religion and Culture
Thursday, March 10, 2022
1–2 p.m. ET via Zoom Webinar

Critics across the political spectrum are decrying a new wave of censoriousness and intolerance in American society — a “cancel culture” which they say inhibits public discourse and development. 

But is the heart of the problem also spiritual and religious? Are we witnessing a kind of “neo-Puritanism” that has deep roots in United States culture? And can religious traditions point a way toward a solution? Can we recover practices of repentance and forgiveness and redemption that are central to the great spiritual teachings?  A panel of distinguished writers and scholars examines the state of America’s soul and remedies for our current predicament.


The Rev. Charles Howard is the university chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania and a widely-published writer who sees his vocation as working for “a communal increase in joy, peace, justice and love.”

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is scholar-in-residence at the National Council of Jewish Women and an award-winning author whose latest book, to be published in Fall 2022, is titled On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World

Stephen Pope is a professor of theology at Boston College who speaks, teaches, and writes regularly on issues of mercy and forgiveness. 

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the online audience.

Speech Acts is a series of talks at Fordham University during the 2021-22 year, focusing on questions related to free speech, political polarization, the place of truth in an age of social media, and related topics. This is the sixth event in the Speech Acts Series. A full list of planned Speech Acts events is available on the Office of the Provost website, including links to recordings of previous events.



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