Baylor University Honors College Hosts Scholar Vincent Lloyd

October 20, 2023
Vincent Lloyd

During the annual Drumwright Family Lecture, Vincent Lloyd, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Religion at Villanova University, delivered an engaging talk titled "Pursuing Justice in Toxic Times." At the heart of his lecture were deep insights about challenges in the modern pursuit of justice.

“We need to think through how the urgent pursuit of justice can fit together with a right orientation toward justice,” Lloyd said in his talk. “We have to do two things at once, and we cannot let our focus drift toward one at the expense of the other. If we drift toward urgency, the result is toxicity; if we drift toward that slow, hard work of formation, the result is forgetting how high the stakes are for us, and for our children.”

Honors College Dean Douglas Henry, Ph.D. noted the timeliness of Lloyd’s address. “Seasons of cultural upheaval present constructive and destructive possibilities. Too much of our public life today is characterized by destruction, by what Dr. Lloyd calls toxicity. Yet whatever the realm—economy, environment, healthcare, politics, race relations—we must remember that Christian prophetic witness entails both judgment and hope, judgment upon what sin has wrought and hope in God’s redemptive work in Christ. We are called to be agents of justice and peace. We have Dr. Lloyd to thank for the occasion to remember these things.”

Lloyd's presentation focused on fostering essential virtues within social justice movements, inspired by his experiences with online interactions.

"In today's high-stakes political climate, having meaningful conversations across differing viewpoints has become increasingly challenging," Lloyd remarked. "My hope is that attendees left the lecture feeling empowered to actively seek justice while also nurturing a sense of community that fosters a proper alignment with justice."

Lloyd, the author of works such as Black Dignity: The Struggle Against Domination, Religion of the Field Negro, and Black Natural Law, initially concentrated on the philosophy of religion in his academic career. However, his perspective shifted when he moved to Atlanta for his first job and began contemplating matters of race.

"Exploring questions of Blackness, especially from a Christian standpoint, fascinated me," Lloyd explained. "I became deeply interested in individuals like Martin Luther King, who were not just activists but also Christian activists, preachers, or theologians. This connection led me to shift my academic focus from philosophy of religion to the study of racial justice and the traditions of African-American religious and political thought."

As the Director of the Center for Political Theology at Villanova, Lloyd recognizes that, although our current political environment may seem exceptionally toxic, it is not without historical precedent.

"While our present moment may appear uniquely challenging, the sixties and seventies also witnessed toxicity in many spheres," Lloyd observed. "I believe this toxicity often arises from a sense of urgency without a clear sense of direction. So, the question becomes: How do we shape ourselves to approach questions of justice with the right perspective? I believe that finding a balanced approach to personal formation and orientation towards justice is an excellent starting point."

Present for Lloyd’s lecture were scores of faculty, staff, students, and community members who assembled in Armstrong Browning Library’s Foyer of Meditation for the event.

"I appreciated Dr. Lloyd’s insight into our social and political climate," Honors College student Kristen Nakamura said. "What our society needs is exposure—exposure to different ideas, diverse perspectives, and honest, “real” talk. Dr. Lloyd provided exactly that."

The Drumwright Family Lecture, established by Minette Drumwright Pratt in 2010 to honor the Drumwright family, has become a hallmark event for the Honors College each year. To learn more about this lecture series, visit the Honors College website.