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Aug. 29, 2008

Reverend Billy

Reverend Billy (Bill Talen) and the "Church of Stop Shopping" gospel choir during a performance last year in New York City's Times Square. Submitted photo.

Politics, humanitarianism highlight fall lectures lineup

by Anne Krapfl

A quick glance at the ISU lectures program lineup for fall semester could confirm that we're nearing a key election. No, Barack Obama, John McCain, Tom Latham or Bruce Baley are not part of the schedule, but others who visit will have plenty to say -- or sing -- about them.

For starters, a writing duo from The Onion, the satirical, fake news magazine, visits campus Sept. 4 to talk about their coverage of current events. Chad Nackers and John Harris are staff writers for The Onion, which was founded in 1988 by two students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Their presentation begins at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. It kicks off the lectures program's National Affair Series.

Carly Fiorina, a businesswoman who ran Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 and a top adviser to presidential candidate McCain, comes to campus next month as the fall holder of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. She will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Memorial Union Sun Room.

And actor Bill Talen, as the revivalist preacher Reverend Billy, with a six-member "Church of Stop Shopping" gospel choir, stops in the Great Hall Sept. 17 for a musical performance. The group doesn't target the campaign as much; their message attacks materialism, over-consumption in this country and the business practices of large companies. "What Would Jesus Buy?" is the title of their performance.

The 2007 Morgan Spurlock-produced documentary of the same name, which stars the Reverend Billy, will be shown in the Memorial Union Pioneer Room at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15.

"We have never before loaded September like this," said lectures program director Pat Miller. "Several events are pure entertainment -- with political overtones."

On a serious note

Poet, essayist and feminist Adrienne Rich, now 79 years old, comes to campus Sept. 22 for a reading and lecture. Rich's works are taught in creative writing, literature and gender studies courses across the country. She first published in 1951; her most recent book of poetry was released last fall. Her talk begins at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall.

Rich also will respond to questions during an informal discussion the next morning (Sept. 23) at 10 a.m. in the Memorial Union Campanile Room. All are welcome.

Dr. James Orbinski, president of Doctors Without Borders in 1999 when it received the Nobel Peace Prize, will speak on "why what you do and who you are matters" Oct. 22 in the Memorial Union Sun Room. He has served in Rwanda, Peru, Somalia and Afghanistan on behalf of Doctors Without Borders.

"Our students have been trying to get him to campus for more than two years," Miller noted. "It really started when we brought in Paul Rusesabagina three falls ago." (Rusesabigina is the hotel manager in Kigali, Rwanda, whose efforts to save Tutsis from massacre are depicted in the 2004 film, Hotel Rwanda.)

"Their intent is to bring in a remarkable human being with a strong humanitarian record who will move students to think differently about their futures and their options," Miller said.

Currently a faculty member at St. Michael's Hospital (University of Toronto), Orbinski will talk about genocide, civil war and the role of humanitarianism.

In April, Orbinski published a book, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century.

The lectures program's full schedule is online.


Don't forget

And here are a few other dates you may want to note:

  • Sept. 25: James Woolsey, former holder of presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations (including CIA director for President Clinton), and advocate of energy independence for this country, will speak on energy, security and sustainability
  • Oct. 16: Jonah Goldberg, syndicated columnist and contributing editor to the National Review, will speak on "liberal fascism" (also the title of his 2008 book)
  • Oct. 27: Robert C. Brown, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and the Bergles Professor in Thermal Science, will give the fall Presidential University Lecture