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RSVP for the 2023 CCS–First Things Austin Lecture!

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

We are pleased to announce the annual Center for Christian Studies – First Things Lecture, to be held in Austin, Texas, on Monday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. This year’s speaker will be Kyle Harper, a classical historian from the University of Oklahoma.

We at the Center for Christian Studies are happy to cooperate in this lecture once again with First Things, which is one of the most widely read and influential religious journals in the United States. First Things shares much in common with CCS, whose mission is to help Christians better understand, practice, and pass on their faith to others, to equip teachers of teachers.

Our speaker, Kyle Harper, is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, Professor of Classics and Letters, Senior Advisor to the President, and Provost Emeritus at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. He is also a Fractal Faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. Harper has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in addition to a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.

Harper is a historian whose work tries to integrate the natural sciences into the study of the human past.

He is the author of four books: Slavery in the Late Roman World; From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality; The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire; and Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History.

His next book, The Last Animal, is a history of humans and other animals, emphasizing the ways that other animals have been instrumental in our success, and the ways that our success is a danger to global biodiversity on par with the most catastrophic events in the history of the planet.

Harper will be speaking on “Christianity and the Idea of Human Dignity.” He writes, “‘Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.’ With these words, the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts a close relationship between ideas about human dignity and human rights. What is dignity? Where does the idea come from and what role has it played in the development of ideas of human rights? In this lecture, I will explore the historical roots of ideas about human dignity and the legacy of early Christianity in the history of human rights. The lecture will consider why understanding this history can provide important resources for understanding our world and confronting its challenges.”

The evening lecture and refreshments to follow will be hosted at the University Avenue Church of Christ in downtown Austin. Admission to the lecture is free, but we ask that you RSVP at Parking will be available in the church lot and across the street at the AT&T garage. See here for parking details.

To sponsor or make a gift in support of this annual lecture, please give here and write “FT Lecture” in the memo line, or contact us at


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