The 2021 Dillard Forum 

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The Dillard Forum Presents:

Theology & Theater

October 24-25, 2021

Dr. Charles A. Gillespie

Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University

Dr. Charles A. Gillespie, Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University

The arts are important.  They captivate and inspire.  Our 2021 Dillard Forum will feature Dr. Charles A. Gillespie, Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT.  With a background in performing arts as well as in theology, Dr. Gillespie is uniquely positioned to offer an engaging and thought-provoking look at both our faith and belief as well as popular expression and art.

Session 1

Sunday, October 24 | 7:00 PM

“There’s No Business Like Show Business”: Spectacles and Christian Theology

Is the church like show business?  Can spectacle help us to know God? Dr. Gillespie will introduce some of the history of Christian thought, from Jesus’ performances of parables and the Early Church fathers’ worries about entertainment to contemporary reflection on theatrical theology and sacraments.  We will explore the problem of an entertaining spectacle.

Session 2

Monday, October 25

7:00 PM

“You Will Be Found”:  Thinking about God on Broadway

“Flipping the script” from the previous session, Dr. Gillespie will examine a few popular Broadway shows.  What sort of “theology” or understanding of the divine do we encounter in popular plays and musicals?  Asked differently:  what might theater reveal about the mystery of God and the depth of God’s love for the world?

About Our Speaker

Dr. Charles A. Gillespie, Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart UniversityDr. Charles A. Gillespie is an assistant professor in the Department of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University. Charlie’s research and teaching investigate theology, the arts, and culture with a focus on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, critical theories of creation and beauty, and theatre and performance studies. He is a member of multiple scholarly organizations, including the John Moriarty Institute for Ecology and Spirituality, and has published in Religions, Theatre Symposium, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, and The Other Journal. In 2019, Charlie completed his Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Charlie also holds a B.A.H. in Humanities from Villanova University and a M.A.R. in Religion and Literature from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale University Divinity School. A longtime theatre-maker, Charlie trained with the Parapanda Theatre Art Lab in Tanzania and co-founded the interdenominational “liturgical drama” troupe Theatrum Sacrum. He is currently working on his first book, God on Broadway, under contract with Fortress Press. Charlie lives in Norwalk, CT, with his spouse, Tara Powers.

What is the Dillard Forum

The Dillard Forum is a ministry of Trinity United Methodist Church designed to examine how faith communities speak to the 21st century. An annual event featuring a theologian or biblical scholar, the Forum was established in 2003 to honor F. Douglas Dillard, Jr. who, with his wife Marion, served Trinity for eight years (1981-1989) as senior minister and later three and a half years as minister of congregational care. An eloquent teacher and scholar, Dr. Dillard died in 2005.

Previous Forum speakers have included the Drs. M. Douglas Meeks, Amy Jill Levine, Leander E. Keck, Stanley Hauerwas, James “Mickey” Efird, Roberta C. Bondi, Brian K. Blount, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins, L Gregory Jones, William H. Willimon, Kristin Swenson, Charles Marsh, R. Kendall Soulen, Peter W. Ochs, G. Sujin Pak, Tom Berlin, James Howell, and Benjamin P. Campbell.

The Dillard Forum Endowment Fund provides the funding for this ministry. Gifts may be made payable to the Trinity Foundation/Dillard Forum.

Previous Dillard Forums

Want to learn more about The Dillard Forum? Take a look at some of our previous Dillard Forums below.

2020: Benjamin P. Campbell

2019: James Howell

2018: Tom Berlin

2017: G. Sujin Pak

2016: Peter W. Ochs