Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture

About the Lecture

Named for Bradford Edward Ableson—Science & Arts Alumni Hall of Fame member, U.S. Navy Captain, visionary in religious reconciliation and an architect of modern military chaplaincy—this series features religious and cultural leaders who have contributed to communication across communities.


Benjamin Zeller

New Religious Movements & Religious Radicalism in America

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 | 7 p.m.

Science & Arts Ballroom, Student Center

Benjamin Zeller will be the speaker for the Feb. 1 Ableson Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Science & Arts Ballroom. Benjamin E. Zeller is Associate Professor and Chair of Religion at Lake Forest College (Chicago, USA). He researches religious currents that are new or alternative, including new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food. He is author of Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion (NYU Press), Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (NYU Press), and co-editor of Religion, Food, and Eating in North America (Columbia University Press) and The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements (Bloomsbury). He also designed the Sacred Chicago project, a digitalization project involving Chicago’s sacred spaces. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard University. He is co-general editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions.

This will be an in-person event and it is recommended that attendees wear masks. If you are unable to make it to campus, you can watch via livestream. 


Bradford Edward Ableson

U.S. Navy Chaplain Bradford E. Ableson dedicated his adult life to the service of God and his country. As a captain in the Navy and an Episcopal Priest, he traveled the globe many times caring for the needs of his shipmates. Ableson graduated magna cum laude from the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma in 1980. He later earned a master of theology degree from Boston University School of Theology, a master of divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School and a doctor of ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary. Subsequently, he graduated with distinction from the United States Naval War College. In 2008 he received the Lux et Veritas distinguished alumnus award from Yale. In the Navy, Ableson served with U.S. Marine Corps units, in surface ships, in the Navy’s largest submarine squadron and as command chaplain of aircraft carrier USS George Washington. He qualified for the Veterans of Foreign Wars five times. Ashore, Ableson served as chaplain for President Bill Clinton at Camp David and as an executive officer to the Navy Chief of Chaplains. As command chaplain of the U.S. Strategic Command, he pioneered global religious reconciliation initiatives that continue to sow seeds of peace in war-torn areas. Ableson worked toward equality issues in the military and was the primary mover behind a series of Navy-wide heritage celebrations that continue to be observed throughout the fleet. He was the architect behind the transformation of the chaplaincy from an institution focused almost wholly on the pastoral needs of personnel to one that embraces senior chaplains as agents of reconciliation with religious leaders around the globe.