Lancaster’s Professor of English Literate, Terry Eagleton, presented his controversial ‘Jesus the Red?’ lecture at the Chaplaincy Centre on October 28th. The lecture, which is part of the Annual Chaplaincy Centre Lectures, opened debate on the subject of Jesus as a historical figure as well as the politics of Christianity.
Eagleton, who is an internationally celebrated literary scholar and cultural theorist, was invited by the chaplain to give the talk partly due to his book concerning the God debate entitled ‘Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate’.
Speaking on the subject of the lecture, Eagleton told SCAN: “lots of Christians in particular don’t know this sort stuff… they get fed certain images and stereotypes of Jesus, which largely ignore the historical facts.” He went to explain that he “give[s] talks a lot in cathedrals and churches… dealing with the politics of Christianity and the Gospel which is often missed out” and that the talk given at the Chaplaincy Centre was “not what you would find in a typical sermon.”
The idea of Jesus as a “political rebel” extended throughout the talk, with Eagleton considering him as a “nationalist revolutionary” as well as a “martyr,” comparing him to such figures as Martin Luther King and Che Guevara.
When speaking to SCAN, Eagleton also insisted on the importance of the question mark that follows in the title “Jesus the Red?’ having been dropped in the posters around campus. He felt the lecture would provide more of an answer toward the question rather than just targeting the specific statement.
Disputing such figures as Richard Dawkins, Terry Eagleton is a prominent figure in the God debate and his lecture at the chaplaincy provided an insight into his many thoughts on the subject. With over 40 books to his name relating to Literature, Theory and Criticism, Eagleton is one of the most widely regarded theorists of our time.
Eagleton’s talk was part of the Annual Chaplaincy Lectures and the Chaplain also explained that “the purpose of these lectures… is to provide a link between the chaplaincy and the university’s departments.” Having already given lectures relating to Politics and Religious Studies at the Chaplaincy, the department of English Literature and Creative Writing were approached for this event.
The talk, which was open to all students and staff, received a healthy turnout from both parties with the chaplaincy rear walls having to be opened to provide extra space for the overflow of spectators.
Eagleton praised the “lively audience” who actively participated in debate after the lecture and explained he was “lucky nobody threw anything at [him]” due to the contentious subject of his talk. The literary critic, who once sparked outrage on radio for suggesting “Jesus was in a way lucky to die and spend such short time on the cross,” said that “the audience to, much to [his] surprise, was more positive.”
Literature student Thomas Haynes said the talk was “incredibly engaging. Terry had me hooked from his first sentence and left me with some real food for thought… I thought that hosting the lecture in the Chaplaincy Centre was a great idea – it’s definitely something the university should start doing more in the future.”
Whilst visiting campus, Eagleton also gave a his lecture on ‘Psychoanalysis’ for second and third year students on October 29th as well as giving a seminar and reading on ‘The Idea of Culture’ for postgraduates.
Terry Eagleton’s book ‘Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate’ can be found in the University Library.
A full audio of the lecture can be found at: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/depts/chap_cen/