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Roger W. Heyns Lecture

Roger W. Heyns

Established at Memorial Church in 1994, the Roger W. Heyns Lecture in Religion and Society, is an annual event that features a major speaker focusing on problems and challenges of religion and community. Heyns, who was a resident of Atherton, was a member of the Memorial Church congregation from 1977 until his death in 1995.

Heyns served as chancellor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1965 to 1971. The lectureship honors Heyns on his retirement after 16 years as a board member of the James Irvine Foundation.

2018 Heyns Lecture

“Religious and Ethical Dimensions of Artificial Intelligence”

Photo of The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

Director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab; President CEO of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT

Thursday, February 1, 2018, 5:00 pm
Levinthal Hall in the Humanities Center, 424 Santa Teresa St, Stanford

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is an innovative thinker, philosopher, educator and a polymath monk. He is Director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and President & CEO of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a center dedicated to inquiry, dialogue, and education on the ethical and humane dimensions of life. The Center is a collaborative and nonpartisan think tank, and its programs emphasize responsibility and examine meaningfulness and moral purpose between individuals, organizations, and societies. Six Nobel Peace Laureates serve as The Center’s  founding members and its programs run in several countries and expanding.

Venerable Tenzin's unusual background encompasses entering a Buddhist monastery at the age of ten and receiving graduate education at Harvard University with degrees ranging from Philosophy to Physics to International Relations. He is a Tribeca Disruptive Fellow and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Venerable Tenzin serves on the boards of a number of academic, humanitarian, and religious organizations. He is the recipient of several recognitions and awards and received Harvard’s Distinguished Alumni Honors in 2013 for his visionary contributions to humanity.


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2017 Heyns Lecture

Professor Alexandra Walsham, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge
“Toleration, Pluralism and Coexistence: The Ambivalent Legacies of the Reformation”

From T. J. V. Braght, Het bloedig tooneel, of martelaers spiegel der doops-gesinde of weereloose Christenen (Amsterdam, 1685). "The Martyrs Mirror" described the persecution and sufferings of the Dutch Anabaptists.

From T. J. V. Braght, Het bloedig tooneel, of martelaers spiegel der doops-gesinde of weereloose Christenen (Amsterdam, 1685). The Martyrs Mirror described the persecution and sufferings of the Dutch Anabaptists.


April 20, 2017, 5:00 pm
CIRCLE Common Room, Old Union 3rd floor

One of the enduring myths of the origins of modern liberalism is the tradition of linking the Reformation with the rise of toleration. The notion that Protestantism helped to sow the seeds for advanced ideas of freedom of conscience and laid the foundations for practical arrangements that facilitated the acceptance of religious diversity is part of another resilient paradigm: the story of the Reformation’s role as an agent of progress and as a stepping stone towards the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Approaching tolerance and intolerance not as polar opposites but as dialectially linked impulses, this lecture will underline the intrinsic ambivalence and internal contradictions of the experiments in ‘toleration’ that emerged in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain and Europe. It will argue that the real significance of the long Reformation for the history of pluralism lies less in its capacity to provide an intellectual pedigree and a body of legal and social precedents for coexistence, than in the light it sheds on the precariousness of peace and tranquillity in communities fractured by deep ideological differences. More broadly, it hopes to offer insight into the perennial and paradoxical process by which efforts to create conditions in which people of conflicting religious and political creeds can coexist often serve to lay the foundations for renewed outbreaks of conflict and violence.

Photo of Professor Alexandra WalshamAlexandra Walsham has been Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College since 2010. She has published widely on the religious and cultural history of early modern Britain. Her publications include Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 1999); Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England 1500-1700 (Manchester University Press, 2006); The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2011; joint winner of the Wolfson History Prize); and Catholic Reformation in Protestant Britain (Ashgate, 2014). Alexandra Walsham is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for 2015-18 and is the Principal Investigator of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project ’Remembering the Reformation’ (2016-19).



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2015 Heyns Lecture

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising

January 15, 2015
Cemex Auditorium, Knight Management Center

On January 15, 2015, the Heyns Lecture featured Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising who has emerged as one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most influential figures. He currently serves as the head of the German Bishops’ Conference and as President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union. He is a member of the Council of Cardinals, which advises Pope Francis on church governance, and was appointed head of the new Council for the Economy, designed to oversee the Vatican’s economic management. Cardinal Marx has written and spoken widely on economic questions and the contemporary relevance of Catholic Social Teaching; he is the author of Das Kapital: A Plea for Man (2008).

The slideshow below features photos from a session with Cardinal Marx and students as well as the Heyns Lecture.



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Past Heyns Lectures

October 17, 2013
The Adventure of Civility
Krista Tippett, Broadcaster and author
View lecture video

May 1, 2012
Anna Deavere-Smith, Actress and playwright
View Stanford Report article

June 1, 2011
Beauty & Power, Truth & Good: 21st Century Quest
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
View lecture video

February 22, 2010
Religion and Politics in the Obama Era
Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners Magazine
View lecture video

January 27, 2009
Acts of Faith: Interfaith Leadership in a Time of Religious Crisis
Dr. Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core
View lecture video

April 18, 2008
Jesus and Judaism: The Connection Matters
Prof. Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt Divinity School

April 25, 2007
Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scripture and Readers Who May Never Know
Prof. Bart D. Ehrman
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
View Stanford Report article

November 4, 2005
The Heart of Nonviolence
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
View lecture video – scroll to the bottom of the web page to view video
Read lecture transcript

October 13, 2004
Islam: A Short History — and Contemporary Issues
Karen Armstrong
Leo Baeck College for the Training of Rabbis
View Stanford Report article

May 13, 1998
America’s New Religious Landscape: Negotiating Identities, Negotiating
Prof. Diana Eck
Harvard University

April 22, 1999

Revisiting Religious Pluralism
Prof. Bruce Lawrence
Duke University

May 23, 1996
Satan and All His Angels (How Early Christians Came to Demonize Jews, ‘Pagans’ and Heretics)
Prof. Elaine Pagels
Princeton University

October 15, 1997
Christian Conviction in a Pluralist Society
Prof. Maurice Wiles
Christ Church, Oxford