Frankism, Queer Theology, Religious Exemptions | Univ. of Pittsburgh

at University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA
More Info / Registration

Join Dr. Michaelson for three lectures at the University of Pittsburgh.


Monday, February 6, 12:00pm, Jewish Studies Colloquium (602 Cathedral of Learning)

“I Do Not Look to Heaven: The Antinomianism of Jacob Frank, Between Philosophical Critique and Esoteric Myth”
Jacob Frank (1726-1791) led the largest apostasy in Jewish history, conducted sexual rituals with his followers, and was regarded by Gershom Scholem as “a truly corrupt and degenerate individual… who could snuff out the last inner lights” of the Sabbatean heresy. This presentation, based on ten years of doctoral research on Frankist texts, offers a revisionist view of the Frankist heresy. Frank’s complex and syncretic antinomian theology is partly a surprisingly modern critique of Jewish theodicy, and partly a bizarre magical-materialistic worldview that (really) was derived from and contributed to the Illuminati and Freemasonic societies of his day. Frank utterly rejected Kabbalah, Sabbateanism, and Judaism as ineffectual, substituting for them a Western Esotericist goal of das, gnosis, that will lead to immortality, power, and contact with a race of immortal beings. Frank’s radical sexual praxis was a form of mystical messianism that was equal parts liberationist and sexist. And while Frankism was a dead end in terms of Jewish history, his combination of radical skepticism and experiential spirituality anticipates many currents in our own post-Jewish moment.


Monday, February 6, 5:00pm, Queering Religion Series.  (501 Cathedral of Learning)

Queer Theology and Social Transformation: Points of Contact, Points of Conflict.
Queer theology holds forth the promise of reinventing theological discourse in the light of LGBTQ experience, queer theory, and a hermeneutic informed by marginalized voices and outsider discourse. But how does the queer theological enterprise intersect with queer activism? What are the possibilities, and perils, of translating between theology and activist practice? What forms of political discourse are informed by queer theology, and what are undermined?


Tuesday, February 7, 12:30pm, Lunch talk at the Law School. (Law School, Room 111)

Religious Exemptions: Civil Rights and the Parameters of Liberty
From Mike Pence’s Indiana ‘Religious Freedom’ Law is to the new ‘First Amendment Defense Act’, America is now engaged in a national debate about when religion and civil rights collide. When can a public employee refuse to do her job because she says it violates her religion? When can businesses turn (gay, Jewish, black) people away for religion reasons? The public rhetoric is polarized: religious liberty one hand, homophobia on the other; the First Amendment and women’s/LGBT rights. How are civil rights and religious liberty claims to be accommodated? How might exemptions impact sexual, gender, religious, and ethnic minorities?