East Carolina University

Speaking Engagements


Dr. Mercer's Speaking Engagements

Many of these lectures to lay audiences are based on Dr. Mercer's published research. For more details and scheduling arrangements, see contact information at the bottom.

    Workshops: Day-Long or Weekend

  • Monastic and Holistic Practices: This workshop, offered with Dr. Susan Vickery-Mercer, has been provided, with continuing education credits, to an organization of substance abuse and other clinical counselors and in smaller retreat settings. The techniques presented address burnout issues and expand options for health care and other service providers and their clients/customers. The various practices are provided in the context environmental connection and self-inquiry. Dr. Vickery-Mercer has background and training in exercise physiology, child development and family relations, and ecological land use and is a licensed massage therapist.

  • Forgiveness for the Body and Mind: Drawing upon scientific research on forgiveness, this workshop, offered with Dr. Susan Vickery-Mercer, addresses the value and usefulness of appropriately expressed anger, the physical and psychological aspects of forgiveness, how forgiveness strategies can impact organizations for greater efficiency and effectiveness, and creative rituals for implementing forgiveness.

  • Religious Diversity Training: This program can be tailored to the particular needs of specific groups. For example, when I have offered the program to hospital staff, for continuing education credit, I have given focus to how health care delivery can be appropriately informed by the religious diversity among patient and staff populations. The program has been offered in both day-long workshop settings and a series of lectures over several days.

  • Most Popular Lectures

  • God, Souls, Spiritual Machines, and Living Forever in the 21st Century: What if you could live for 1,000 years—or longer? In this increasingly popular lecture, I summarize, and consider the religious implications of, the science that is fast opening up breakthrough possibilities for engineering the body and mind and for extreme (perhaps indefinite) longevity of healthy human life. The lecture is based, in part, on my co-edited book, Religion and the Implications of Radical Life Extension, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Slaves of Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind: Although a religion professor, I am also trained as and practiced part-time for a decade as a therapist. This talk is based on my book by this title where I use a cognitive therapy model to understand the fundamentalist mind. Although my book is focused on Christian fundamentalism, the insights are valuable for understanding extreme religion in all traditions and especially so in our post 9-11 climate.

  • Other Public Lectures

  • Monks and Monasteries: I have a long academic interest in monasticism and have also done retreats in monasteries located in many countries and associated with various religions (e.g., Theravada in Thailand, Zen in Japan, Hindu in India, and especially Trappist in Israel and the US). In this lecture I sketch the origins, development, and contemporary expression of Christian monasticism.

  • Trying Not to Get Beaten: My Experience in a Japanese Zen Monastery: Here I mine insights and wisdom from my experience in a Japanese Renzai Zen Buddhist Monastery in Kyoto, Japan.

  • What Thomas Merton Has to Offer Our World: In this lecture I take a look at this fascinating Trappist monk, still relevant for our time.

  • Headaches, Happiness, and the Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali: Based on The Monastic Project, this is a study of an old Hindu text and its relevance for our culture and personal well-being.

  • Christian Chanting: Chanting is often associated with India and religions other than Christianity. However, there is a long tradition of chanting in Christianity. I examine this often overlooked technique for spiritual growth and mental calmness. I have attended workshops with recognized chant masters and for years have led group chanting using Christian chants that I designed from Hebrew and Greek.

  • Fasting for Health and Holiness: Fasting is about more than just "not eating." Here I provide a practical and theological study of this old spiritual technique.

  • Battle on the Field of Dharma: Stories and Teaching from the Bhagavad-Gita: Although much of my scholarly work has been on the Bible, my second love is the Gita. Here I give a sampling of stories and teachings from what is arguably the most loved text in Hinduism.

  • Humor in the Bible, or Why Jesus Didn't Have Ulcers: Based on my published research, I provide a literary/psychological study of the parables and proverbs of Jesus. This approach yields some interesting results.

  • From Eve to Jerry Falwell: The Image, Role, and Status of Women: In this lecture I examine the history, role, and status of women in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The lecture is based, in part, on my article, "Sexual Violence and the Warrior God."

  • Jesus' First Day at School: Here I look at one of the Christian gospels that did not make it into the New Testament.

  • How We Got the Bible: This several sessions long series examines the writing materials, transmission, collection, and translation of the texts.

  • What's an Academic Doing in Politics Anyway? Here I reflect on my experience serving on city council in a mid-sized city.

  • Religion and Politics: Here I reflect on healthy and unhealthy ways religion and politics can be related on the American scene.

  • Religion and the Environment: For better or worse, religious images, symbols, and ideology impact many people's conceptualization of the environment and their action (or inaction) on environmental issues. Whether one is a person of faith or not, it can be useful to understand how religious symbols and thought can relate to environmental issues.

For a list of other lectures or for scheduling information, contact:

Harriot College of Arts and Sciences | East Carolina University
1002 Bate Building | Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4353
252-328-6131 (voice) | 252-328-4263 (fax)
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