‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ Forum on December 1 to Discuss Polkinghorne’s “Science and Providence”

issrlogoThe next Barton College public forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ will be held on Tuesday afternoon, December 1, 2015 at 3 PM in Barton College’s Hackney Library Technology Classroom.

This month we will discuss some of the ideas found in Science and Providence by John Polkinghorne in which he combines a rich appreciation of the results of modern science with a detailed theological affirmation that God acts within the world’s history. An introductory essay on this book may be found at the ISSR site www.issrlibrary.org.  You need not have read this book in order to participate freely in the discussions that will arise as a result of the presentation of the author’s viewpoints.  Your insights and questions will be welcome.

John Polkinghorne knows this territory well.   He is a prominent and leading voice explaining the relationship between science and religion. He was professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge in England.  Then later in his life he became and Anglican priest.  He was knighted in 1997 and in 2002 received the Templeton Prize, awarded for exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.

How might we understand particular divine action within the world described by the natural sciences?  John Polkinghorne’s strategy is to argue that the natural order is not in fact a closed deterministic structure, but rather is open to God’s purposive engagement.  There are processes in nature that display a combination of lawfulness and flexibility that would make it possible for God to affect the course of events without disrupting the reliable structure of the created order.

Two areas of contemporary physics lend themselves to such an interpretation: ‘quantum mechanics’, at the lowest levels in the organization of matter/energy, and ‘chaos theory’ explicating the complex chaotic behavior of some dynamic systems such as weather, war, epidemics, paradoxical evolutionary relationships. In as much as unpredictability suggests a deep cosmological and ontological openness, he makes use of these ideas to suggest that God might enact particular providential purposes in the world by influencing the development of these highly sensitive dynamic systems.

To establish consilience with natural science, Polkinghorne discusses a series of central topics in theology including providence, miracles, natural and moral evil, prayer, temporality, incarnation and sacrament, and redemptive hope. In particular, the problem of evil presents difficult issues for any theology that affirms God’s action in the world.

Our monthly meeting aims to facilitate the ongoing dialogue between the disciplines of science and religion, one of the most important current areas of debate in terms of understanding the nature of humanity.  You may come to just listen or to freely participate in our conversation.

Please join our gathering for the forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation,’ to be held on Tuesday afternoon, December 1st at 3 PM in Hackney Library.

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New Streaming Video Database Available Through Hackney Library

Kanopy logoHackney Library has added a new streaming video database to its repository of streaming options for viewing foreign and domestic films, documentaries, training films, theatrical releases, and even online classes.  It’s called Kanopy, and it provides on-demand streaming for educational institutions such as Barton.

Kanopy offers more than 26,000 films in its collection—including streaming media by leading producers such as Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, New Day Films, California Newsreel, Kino Lorber, PBS, BBC, First Run Features, The Video Project, Media Education Foundation, Documentary Education Resources –on every topic imaginable.  You can browse the database by broad subjects, search for specific titles, or perform keyword searches to locate films within the database.

Kanopy’s viewing platform makes it easy to watch, share and discuss films across campus and at your own convenience.  In addition to providing access to films in their entirety, it allows you to create your own clips/playlists, share the stable URL of the clip, or save a group of clips into a folder and share the stable URL for the folder.  Clips may also be embedded in PowerPoints and other media.

Users can access Kanopy from the library home page (lib.barton.edu) in several ways:

  • Under the “Search”link drop-down menu in the black banner across the top of the library home page, click on the “Digital Video Sources” link, and the top three databases listed when you scroll down will include “Kanopy” as well as the other two video streaming databases;
  • Under the “Search” link drop-down, click on the A-Z link, then go to “K” and search alphabetically for “Kanopy Streaming”;
  • Type in “Kanopy” in the OneSearch box, and the link for it will show up under the “Databases” portion on the right side of the OneSearch results list (you may have to scroll down to see it).

Kanopy joins our existing video streaming database, Films on Demand, which features 7,500 videos on a wide range of topics, as well as the PBS Video Collection available to us through NCLIVE.

If you have any questions about Kanopy or either of the other two streaming video collections, please contact the reference desk at 252-399-6502 or reference@barton.edu.

Take advantage of this new opportunity to view streaming videos–try out Kanopy today!

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‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ To Meet November 3, 3 pm

issrlogoThe Barton College public forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ will be held on Tuesday afternoon, November 3rd at 3 PM in the Hackney Library’s Technology Classroom.  Everyone is welcome.

This month we are going East as our presentation will be based on the book Consciousness Studies: Cross Cultural Perspectives by K. Ramakrishna Rao, a book from the college library collection of The International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR).   An introductory essay on this book may be found at the ISSR site www.issrlibrary.org.  You need not have read this book in order to participate freely in the discussions that will arise as a result of the presentation of the author’s viewpoints.  Your insights and questions will be welcome.

This book addresses some of the following questions you might find intriguing. What is consciousness?  Does it include multiple kinds of awareness, some available for our introspection and some not?   What is paradoxical awareness and how does it differ from pathological awareness?  Why are there so few experiences of the paranormal (Psi) that may be accepted in the West, whereas there are many other paranormal ‘siddhis’ usually accepted in the East as intrinsic on the spiritual path?  What are the major contributions of Eastern traditions such as Yoga, Vedanta and Buddhism in understanding consciousness?

The primary difference between the Eastern and Western approaches to understanding consciousness is one of focus – inward or outward.  In the East, the focus is on the person having the subjective experience.  In the West, the focus is on the object of experience and the method is based on third-person observation and measurement.  Thought, objectivity, and subjectivity can be (and are) conceptually distinguished.  However, they blend harmoniously in human experience, and so it may be that consciousness must be understood from many perspectives.

Consciousness studies are a broad field drawing from such diverse subjects such as neurobiology, neuropsychology, cognitive sciences, philosophy, physics and religion. The author believes that there are some aspects to consciousness that cannot at present fit into the Western scientific model.  Spiritual and mystical traditions, along with findings in paranormal experience, encourage enlarging the scope of this study to cover an integration of a broad range of disciplines.

Dr. Rao worked with J. B. Rhine at the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University and later headed his Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man as its Executive Director.  He established the Institute for Yoga and Consciousness at Andhra, India.  He has lectured around the world and currently is serving as Chancellor at GITAM University, Vishakhapatnam, India.

Please join our gathering for the forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ to be held on Tuesday afternoon, November 3rd at 3 PM in the Barton College’s Hackney Library.




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Yard Sales and Rare Books—An Unlikely But Fortuitous Pairing for the K. D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room

biblePeople love yard sales.  Clothing, furniture, toys and tools, books and magazines, even cars show up on neighborhood lawns “priced to sell.”  Novelist Lee Smith once purchased a box of family letters at a yard sale that inspired her bestselling novel Fair and Tender Ladies.  Many of us have found “treasures” that have revived old memories or created new interests.  Now Barton College has its own yard sale story.

Mr. Doug Lamm recently visited Hackney Library and brought with him an old Bible that he purchased for a modest sum at a yard sale.  The primary motivation for the purchase was the list of family names carefully written and preserved on the blank pages in the back of the book, the Gardner family, distant relations (perhaps) of Barton’s own Ava Gardner of Hollywood fame.  But beyond this important information was the age of the volume, 1790, and the publisher, William Young of Philadelphia.

According to Margaret T. Hills, author of The English Bible in America, Young immigrated to the United States in 1784.  Though he had spent some time in a Presbyterian seminary, Young set up a bookstore and printing business in his new home in Philadelphia.  In 1790 William Young printed the first American Bible that contained the Metrical Psalms of David (Scots version). This Bible was small enough to carry in the ample coat pockets of the day, and was, according to Hills, a school edition. Young also printed Bibles in 1791, 1792, and 1802 (some also with the Metrical Psalms).  The 1790 edition is scarce and how this particular book came to North Carolina is, as yet, unknown.

The William Young Bible (1790) joins other original and facsimile examples of English Bibles in the K.D. Kennedy Rare Book Room and will be on exhibit through March 2016, on loan by Doug Lamm.  We thank Patrick Scott of the University of South Carolina for his help in documenting this marvelous yard sale treasure.

Contact Library Director George Loveland (252-399-6501; gwloveland@barton.edu) to take a peek at this loaned treasure for yourself!

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Hackney Library Hosts K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room / Special Collections Symposium on October 13

Kennedy Rare Books on Table GrayscaleBarton College and the Willis N. Hackney Library are pleased to present the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room / Special Collections Symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. The symposium will welcome a variety of noted speakers as well as student research presentations. The afternoon’s series of events will conclude with a keynote address by featured speaker Dr. Emily Kader, rare book research librarian at Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The symposium will be held in Hackney Library and is open to the public free of charge. The Barton community as well as the Wilson community at large is encouraged to attend.

This special event will highlight how the College’s use of the K.D. Kennedy Rare Book Room, the Discipliana Collection, College Archives, and a variety of North Carolina Collections supports the development of undergraduates’ critical thinking skills, and inspires original and innovative student research.

“We have already had great success with our students producing original and creative research in several different disciplines through their access to our archives,” explained George Loveland, director of Hackney Library. “The purpose of this symposium is to highlight these successes and to promote an even greater use of these collections among our faculty and students.”

From 3 p.m. – 4 p.m., audience discussions will be led by Dr. K.D. Kennedy, Jr., trustee emeritus; Dr. Susan Bane, associate professor of physical education and sport studies, women’s health physician, and director of the Whitehurst Family Honors Program; and Shannon Wilson, college archivist.

At 4 p.m., there will be an hour-long reception with student poster presentations on display in the Hackney Library Learning Commons. Students in the Honors Program will present posters that illustrate their research using the college archives, as well as fielding questions about their current research and findings.

At 5 p.m., Dr. Kader will deliver the keynote address, which will describe in detail UNC-Chapel Hill’s use of rare book collections to promote undergraduate research.

For additional information about this event, please contact George Loveland, director of Hackney Library, at 252-399-6501 or gwloveland@barton.edu.

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‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ Changes Time to 3 pm, Starting Tuesday, October 6

ISSR LogoThe Barton College public forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ will be held on Tuesday afternoon, October 6th at 3 PM in Barton College’s Hackney Library.  (Note the permanent change in time from the previous evening sessions.)

This month’s presentation will be based on the book Pascal’s Fire: Scientific Faith
and Religious Understanding
by Keith Ward, a book from the college library collection of The International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR).   An introductory essay on this book may be found at the ISSR site www.issrlibrary.org.  You need not have read this book in order to participate freely in the discussions that will arise as a result of the presentation of the author’s viewpoints on the science and religious concepts that inform his understanding.  Your insights and reflections will be welcome.

The three salient topics that will be presented from this book are from the chapters:  The Veiled World, The Emergence of the Soul, and God’s Action in the World.  The recent discoveries of quantum physics indicate that our observed world is an appearance of a deeper veiled reality.  Through this veiled reality whoever or whatever created this universe (often referred to in various religions as god) might enter into the physical nature of our reality in an intimate and essential way.

Persons as integral parts of this physical universe exhibit distinctive spiritual tendencies indicative of the creative aspects of a divine nature.  These subjects of experience and action, ‘souls’, might in principle be an evolutionary ‘emergent’ from a deeper level of reality than the purely physical plane.

Divine acts and laws of nature may be so designed to work in consonance.  Though this ‘work’ may not be objectively observable, experimentally repeatable, and quantitatively measurable (the scientific method), the experiential evidence, primarily subjective, is universal and manifold in the long history of the varieties of religious experience.

Now as to why Ward’s enigmatic title Pascal’s Fire.  After the death in 1662 of the French mathematician and scientist Blaise Pascal, a document was discovered sewn into the lining of one of his clothes.   It spoke of a nocturnal vision of Fire given by the God of Abraham and ‘….. not of the philosophers and men of science’.

Ward concludes his work by presenting a religious vision of the cosmos in convergence with a plausible scientific view.  However, without authentic religious experience of transcendent mind, and without some experiential evidence of such a mind in history, this will remain speculation.  The best that we can reasonably know requires that we must discern for ourselves to some extent through the illuminating power of Pascal’s Fire.

Please join our gathering for a forum ‘Science and Religion in Conversation’ to be held on Tuesday afternoon, October 6th at 3 PM in the Barton College Hackney Library.  


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Hackney Library Encourages the Freedom to Read during 2015’s “Banned Books Week,” Sept. 27-Oct. 1

2015 Banned Books Poster smallWhen we think of censorship, we often think of dystopian societies such as those depicted in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 and other futuristic novels, or perhaps historically in real geographic locales, such as Germany during the Nazi era.  But did you know that attempts to censor books are alive and well in North Carolina in 2015?

On May 5, 2015, the Los Angeles Times‘s Michael Schaub reported that as the result of a complaint by former Buncombe County School Board member Lisa Baldwin, Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC earlier in the year temporarily suspended the reading of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner in an honors English class.  But according to Asheville’s Daily Planet, on July 2, the “Buncombe County school board — unanimously — voted to retain the novel on the school system’s approved reading list for all county high schools.”  Another recent challenge in the U.S. includes Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s efforts to ban John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  Even our 2012(?) FYS Summer Reader, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, was challenged last month by a parent of a student in the Knox County (Knoxville), TN schools.

Even children’s books (maybe I should say especially children’s books) are not exempt from censorship attempts (Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop, or Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Endsanyone?).

Some of the most frequently-cited reasons for books to be challenged or banned are the following:  Sexually explicit content, offensive language, content unsuited to the targeted age group, violence, homosexuality, expression of religious viewpoint, and depiction of drug use.

These recent attempts to censor or ban books are just the latest in a long history of such assaults on the freedom to read what one chooses.  To counter such censorship attempts, the American Library Association sponsors “Banned Book Week” each year.  This year’s observance takes place this week, from September 27 through October 1.  In honor of this event to encourage the reading of books that have been challenged, Hackney Library has put together a display of books we own in our collections that have appeared in the past—and often continue to appear—on the challenged books list somewhere in the United States, including in North Carolina (you may be surprised by some of the titles that are on someone else’s hit list!).

This year’s Banned Books Week focuses on attempts to ban Young Adult novels (some of which are in our display), but many of the “usual suspects” that have headed up previous years’ lists have made it once again onto the 2014-15 banned/challenged book lists, including John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

The Banned Books display is located on the table outside the library’s Technology Classroom (you’ll spot it easily by the yellow “caution” tape surrounding the display).  Help us preserve the freedom to read by checking out a banned book from this table today!  (To see lists of previously and currently challenged books, see the ALA’s web site.)

We encourage you to support the freedom to read by checking out one of these “banned books” and make up your own mind about its worth, content, and value.  These books will remain on display through October 3, after which they’ll return to their regular homes on our shelves.



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