The 2011-2012 Farley Lecture

The 2011/2012 Margaret Farley Lecture took place on April 24th.


Martin E. Marty
The Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago

The “Abyss of Mystery” and the Searches for Meaning:
The Role of Medical Arts and Sciences

Click here for the video of this lecture.

Abstract: “The Abyss of Mystery,” in the vocabulary of Karl Rahner, is a reference to death. Gabriel Marcel poses “mystery,” as he defines it, over against “problem.” In the urgent and busy worlds of medical research, care, and reflection, it is efficient to reduce as much as possible to the sphere of the “problem.” There one can amass energies, funding, argument, and foci on the particulars, as one must whenever a problem presents itself and can be isolated. However, self-critical leaders in the medical world and many who practice in it, are responsive to criticism that often the profound needs of the patient, the client, the “other” in medical transactions gets slighted. Happily, a generation of prominent people, having diagnosed “the problem,” are newly addressing “the mystery,” to positive effect. This presentation will highlight features of this recovery and notes some who are helping bring dimensions from the humanities (including “divinity”) to the conversation.

About the Speaker: Professor Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he taught for 35 years, chiefly in the Divinity School, where the Martin Marty Center for advanced studies has since been founded, and in the History Department.  He is a Columnist for and Senior Editor at the Christian Century for decades after 1956 and now a writer for its blog.  He held an Editorship of the semimonthly Context, a newsletter on religion and culture, from 1969 to 2010.  He is a weekly contributor to Sightings, an electronic editorial published by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.  He is author of more than 60 books and author, edtior, coauthor, coeditor, or contributor to hundreds of books and more than 5,000 articles, many of which are accessible on the web.  He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award, the Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Chicago Alumni Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal of the Association of Theological Schools, the Order of Lincoln Medallion (Illinois’ top honor), and 80 honorary doctorates.  He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and of the American Philosophical Society and is the Mohandas M. K. Gandhi Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. He is also an admiral in the Great Navy of Nebraska. Marty was born in West Point, Nebraska, on February 5, 1928. He and his wife Harriet, a musician, enjoy an extended family of seven children, including two who joined the family as foster children, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.