Individual Talks

My schedule permits me, on a somewhat limited basis, to give individual lectures, presentations, or conferences in academic and pastoral contexts. My minimum speaking fee is generally $2,000 for an individual address plus travel, room and meal expenses. In exceptional cases these fees can be renegotiated.

Please use the contact form to send me your inquiry.


The Francis Moment: A New Kairos for Catholic Ecclesiology

The remarkable pontificate of Pope Francis represents a fresh reception of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. This presentation will explore the ways in which Pope Francis is offering us a profound theological account of the church.

Vatican II: An Unfinished Building Site

Although the Second Vatican Council made important contributions to the life of the church, the reforming project of the council was left unfinished. This presentation will explore the real contributions of the council and consider the work left to be done.

In Search of Wisdom: Four Paths to Wisdom for Modern Believers

In this presentation I consider specific features of contemporary life and then explore four different paths to Christian wisdom capable of responding to the demands of ordinary life. These paths are: 1) Embracing a common story, 2) allowing our common story to be open to interruption, 3) embracing limitation, 4) in the face of suffering and tragedy, moving beyond understanding to love.

Transforming Our Days: Cultivating a Spirituality of the Ordinary in a Technological World

Our modern culture is dominated by the role of devices: cell phones, iPods, laptops, DVRs, XBoxes and the like. Although these and a myriad other devices offer us many benefits, they also create distinct challenges for cultivating a spirituality that allows us to live in the presence of God in our ordinary lives. This presentation will consider ways in which we might successfully navigate in a technologically driven world while learning to discover “God’s rhythms” in daily life.

A Daring Promise: Toward a Countercultural Theology of Christian Marriage

In today’s consumer-oriented, upgrade culture, committed Christian marriage has become a radical, counter-cultural act. This presentation will briefly consider the challenges which our contemporary culture presents for healthy Christian marriage. We will then explore some neglected insights from our Christian tradition that might help us respond to those challenges.

Suffering, Evil and Tragedy: Theological Resources for Responding to the Most Pressing Pastoral Challenge of Our Time

One of the most difficult pastoral and theological challenges of our time concerns the reality of suffering, evil and tragedy. Too many Christians offer inadequate “Hallmark Card” responses to a difficult theological question. This presentation will look to our tradition for some resources to help us more adequately deal with the “problem of evil” today.

Toward a Theology of Ordered Ministry

Since the Second Vatican Council we have seen a new flourishing of lay ecclesial ministries and the recovery of the permanent diaconate as complements to the traditional ministry of the priest. What is needed today is a consistent theology of “ordered ministry” that stresses what is unique about the ministries of the ordained while still allowing for a positive role for lay ecclesial ministry.

For the Love of the Game: Toward a Theology of Sport and Sports Fandom

Sports plays a significant role in our contemporary cultural context. Some see sports as a sign of social dysfunction and point to the role of excessive violence, greed and corruption in modern sports. This presentation will consider these problems but then suggest that there is a healthy theological understanding of sports and sports fandom that needs to be given more attention than it has so far, particularly in the church.

Does the Theology of the Laity Have a Future?

Many believe that one of the most significant contributions of Vatican II was its theology of the laity. Since the council we have seen the flourishing of lay ecclesial ministry and various forms of lay spirituality. However, some have criticized these developments for failing to attend to the council’s teaching about the laity’s primary obligations in the secular world. This presentation will first explore the council’s teaching and its uneven implementation since the council and then consider where we need to go from here.

Shopping for God: The Challenge of Living an Authentic Christian Life in a Consumerist Society

The greatest challenge to authentic Christian faith in North America today is not secularism or relativism, it is consumerism. We live in a society in which religious experience, doctrine and even the sacraments are being appropriated and packaged in ways that undermine the transformative power of the Christian faith. This presentation will sketch out the broad outlines of the cultural challenges and then propose some pastoral strategies for responding to these challenges.

New Models for Episcopal Leadership in a Global Church

The Catholic church has always remained committed to the need for the office of the bishop to preserve the church’s unity and the integrity of its apostolic faith. However, it is legitimate to wonder whether in the global church of the twenty-first century a new vision of church leadership is needed, one that remains faithful to our tradition but which is also open to the unique demands of our time. This presentation will review basic Catholic teaching regarding the office of the bishop and then propose some models for a new vision of episcopal leadership.

The Catholic Church: European Export or Global Church?

The Catholic church has grown dramatically in the southern hemisphere. In this presentation I will explore how the emergence of the church of the global south is challenging all of us, north and south, to re-imagine what it means to be a catholic church.

Does the Papacy Have a Future?

Few realize it, but the papacy is one of the oldest continuous democratic institutions (popes are, after all, elected by the college of cardinals!) in western civilization. In the minds of some, the papacy is a hopelessly outdated relic from a medieval past; for others it is an object of intense and unswerving devotion. Many in the ecumenical movement see the papacy as a stumbling block to the reunion of the churches. In this presentation I will consider both the historical development of the papacy and various calls for papal reform before exploring a possible new future for the successors of St. Peter.

Becoming a Community of Holy Conversation

We live in a time in which public discourse is dominated by the politics of demonization. Unfortunately, many of these demonizing tendencies have been imported into the life of the church. Our church desperately needs a theology of dialogue or, if you will, “holy conversation” to help us become the community God wishes us to be.

Why Vatican II Did not Fail

Here I explore all of the reasons why, a few weeks before the opening of Vatican II, there was every reason to expect the council to be a complete failure. The reasons why Vatican II did not fail, against all reasonable expectations, have much to teach us about our church today.