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McDonald Lectures to explore treatment of God, Jesus in film

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Emory's Candler School of Theology welcomes Jesuit priest, professor and author Lloyd Baugh to campus this semester as the 2015 distinguished visiting professor in the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture. He will deliver lectures on Sept. 24 and Oct. 14 exploring the treatment and depictions of God and Jesus in film.

An expert in the interdisciplinary field of theology and film studies, Baugh will present the first of two McDonald Lectures, "The 'God Question' in Contemporary Cinema I: A Courageous Break with Tradition," on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Room 360 of Candler's Pitts Theology Library. The lecture is free and open to the public, with no advance registration required.

"The history of cinema abounds with films that speak of God, but most often, these films offer limited evocations of the Divine that move between superficial sentimentality or mythical fantasy," Baugh says. The lecture will include a viewing of a short film that offers instead what Baugh describes as "an original, authentic and credible treatment of the 'God Question.'"

Baugh's second McDonald Lecture, "The 'God Question' in Contemporary Cinema II: Respecting Holy Mystery," is set for Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 252 of the Rita Anne Rollins Building at Candler. Another short film will be screened in the context of how film directors choose to evoke the divinity of Jesus while still maintaining the mystery of God. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register here.

A native of Quebec, Canada, Baugh received his master of arts in English and American Literature from Southern Illinois University. He has been a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) since 1976, and was ordained a priest in 1984. In 1993, he earned a doctorate in fundamental theology and film from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he went on to teach in those areas for more than 20 years.

Baugh is the author of the book "Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film" (Sheed & Ward, 1997) and more than 60 articles on spirituality and film. His research interests include the Jesus films, theological themes in film, prayer experience and interreligious dialogue through film, and the films of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. In addition to his regular teaching in Rome, he has taught in Canada, England, Spain, the Philippines, Madagascar and the United States.

As the McDonald Professor, Baugh also will teach a course at Candler this fall called "The Challenge of Mystery: Images and Metaphors of Jesus in Film."

About the McDonald Chair

The Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture is supported by gifts from the McDonald Agape Foundation, chaired by Alonzo L. McDonald, a longtime trustee of Emory. The McDonald Agape Foundation "supports lectures and other public presentations that deal creatively and imaginatively with the person and teachings of Jesus as they shape and form culture."

Recipients are given a distinguished visiting professorship, in which they speak and teach in the focused area of Jesus' effect on culture and conversely, culture's shaping of the figure of Jesus.

Past McDonald chair lecturers include Judge John T. Noonan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; composer Alice Parker; art historian Herbert Kessler; historian and documentary filmmaker Randall Balmer; author James Carroll; Episcopal priest and bestselling author Barbara Brown Taylor; and Pulitzer-Prize winning author and historian Garry Wills, among others.

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