Aslan leads off Bryan Series 2018


On Sunday, Jan. 28, author and religious studies scholar Reza Aslan will speak as a lecturer for Guilford’s Bryan series. This event will be held in Dana Auditorium for the first time since 2005 when the lecture Series moved to the Greensboro Coliseum.

“It’s a bit of a throwback to before 2005,” said Ty Buckner, associate vice president of alumni and constituent relations. “We decided going into this year that we’d really like to bring a program back to campus.”

Dana Auditorium has featured Bryan Series lecturers such as Colin Powell, Madeline Albright and Ken Burns, and now will present Aslan.

Aslan has published four books, including “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” in 2013 and his most recent book “God: A Human History” in 2017.

“(Aslan) is someone who had been on our radar for a while,” said Buckner. “I expect him to touch on (‘God: A Human History’) and his book ‘Zealot,’ which is about the life of Christ as we understand it through history.”

Aside from writing books, Aslan is also a journalist and editor. He worked as an editor for two books: “Tablet and Pen” and “Muslims and Jews in America,” and also as a contributing editor and writer for newspapers such as The New York Times and the Washington Post.

“We wanted to bring someone dynamic to Guilford College,” said Director of the Bryan Series Suzanne Ingram. “We wanted to present someone who would attract an audience that was outside our subscription series.”

To add to his dynamism, Aslan worked as a consulting producer for the HBO show, “The Leftovers,” and is the host of his own show “Rough Draft with Reza Aslan,” where he interviews critically acclaimed writers. He has also appeared on several late-night talk shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Despite his success, Aslan has experienced controversy.

Aslan’s show “Believer” was cancelled by CNN in 2017 after Aslan called President Trump a “piece of s—” and a “man-baby” on Twitter following the June London Bridge attacks.

“We were following that coverage closely,” said Buckner. “We thought about how it would impact hosting and decided to proceed because we value a range of points of view.

“It also gives us an opportunity to talk about how he believes he has used social media and how it’s effective or not as a communication channel or tool.”

Along with discussing the effectiveness of communication via social media, Aslan’s talk will focus on topics from his books, which center on religious studies and combining history and religion. He will also speak about misconceptions regarding Islam and how to tackle Islamophobia.

“He has a particular interest in educating people about Islam and confronting Islamophobia,” said Buckner. “I expect he’ll touch on that some as well.”

Ingram views Aslan’s message as important.

“I think the value he brings is just his message,” said Ingram. “He talks about religion as how it’s gone through history and all the different aspects of it, and that’s obviously a huge topic for Guilford.”

Aslan’s presentation will be preceded by a student-only question and answer session which will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 28. Aslan’s Bryan Series lecture will be held at 3 p.m. 300 seats have been reserved for students and faculty, and tickets for these seats will be available at Founders Hall prior to the event.