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Angels, Demons, Heaven, and Hell: On Christian "Mythology" and the Spiritual Life

Jan 6 2018 7—8:30pm
Swift Hall, Common Room
1025 E 58th St,
Chicago, IL 60637
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Rachel Fulton Brown

University of Chicago

Fr. Peter Funk

Monastery of the Holy Cross

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Join the Lumen Christi Institute for a special Epiphany symposium and reception with medieval historian Rachel Fulton Brown and Benedictine Monk Fr. Peter Funk, OSB. Free and open to the public.

Many traditional Christian beliefs and teachings about spiritual realities have become unpalatable to modern sensibilities. Accounts of angelic visitations, demonic possessions, the stain of original sin, and the threat of eternal torment are today considered untrue or irrelevant by non-believers and even many Christians. Why were such “myths” so central to Christian belief and practice for so many centuries? Is there any value in understanding why ancient, medieval, and contemporary Christians believe in such things? Or does Christianity need to be demythologized in order to survive in a post-enlightenment age? In this conversation, Rachel Fulton Brown and Fr. Peter Funk, OSB will consider the history of these “myths” and their relevance for contemporary spiritual practices.


Image: Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Torment of Saint Anthony


Rachel Fulton Brown is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe in the Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on the history of Christianity and monasticism in the Latin West. She is author of From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary 800-1200, History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, and Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought.


Fr. Peter Funk, OSB, is the Prior of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, a contemplative Benedictine monastery in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. Fr. Peter received his AB in music from the University of Chicago. After graduating, he was a choral conductor at St. Thomas the Apostle parish and the University of Chicago. He entered monastic life in 1997. Fr. Peter received a Master’s degree in Theology at St. John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he majored in Scripture and was ordained to the priesthood in 2004.