List of Burleigh lectures at the University of Agder, August-November 2019

"How God's Warriors Captured Washington"

An hour-long lecture detailing the people and institutions that remodeled Washington DC into a hotbed of religiosity, in which all Presidents and political leaders are now expected to show up at a "National Prayer Breakfast" annually, federal judges are selected by an Opus Dei cult Catholic, an Evangelical Christian billionaire family, has built the biggest museum in Washington called the "Bible Museum," one block from the national mall, and how this regressive movement will affect real lives. Her talk introduces the zealous individuals who worked quietly behind the scenes, crafting organizations and power networks over the last several decades to take over Washington with the goal of battering the Constitutional separation of Church and State for once and for all.

(Sept. 14 and Oct. 12 Lorsdag University Lectures, Kristiansand and Flekkfjord)

"The Lying Pen of Scribes" Brown Bag Lectures

A four part brown bag lunch series, lectures, followed by Q and A discussions, exploring various ways the white evangelical Christian political movement in America has compromised basic Christian principles of mercy charity and love, aligned itself with an anti-democratic, authoritarian political movement and often corrupt private individuals and political leaders. (Aug-Nov 2019)

1: "Fakes, Forgers, Con Men and Collectors"

A discussion about how the Hobby Lobby Green family collected, planned, built and then filled the National Bible Museum with fakes and illicit objects, lighting up the illicit Middle Eastern antiquities market along the way, all in the pursuit of sharing proof for faith -- within a few blocks of the U.S. Capitol.

2: "Unholy Business Revisited"

An update on the close ties between antiquities dealers and scholars in the high-end Biblical antiquities world, from the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Inscription to new revelations regarding forged Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.

3. "Money, Money, Money, Money!"

An introduction to the principles in and expansion of "The Prosperity Gospel" and to the megachurch millionaire pastors and televangelists who advise the President and his evangelical cabinet members, and an exploration into how these men and women have inserted their creed directly into Congress, the White House, and Washington DC generally, embedded deep inside the power centers of the Capitol, dictating policy on social welfare, education, and even foreign policy.

4. "Christian Zionism and American foreign policy"

How and why did Iran become the next Iraq? A discussion of the long and strange alliance between Evangelical Christian Zionists (who believe Jews will all convert) and the Israeli ultra-right, culminating in finally seizing full power through Donald Trump, who, under the influence of his son in law, a long time Netanyahu ally, and other deep-pockets Israelis like Sheldon Adelson, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, effectively ended American leadership on finding an equitable solution for Palestinians and secular Israelis.

"Flag and Statues: The Fight over Symbols of a Racist Past"

(Sept. 4 Abuses and Uses of History class for Christa Santini Wirth)

"The 'Discovery' of Egypt"

(Sept. 5 Migrations class for Christa Santini Wirth)

"The effectiveness of white identity politics."

(Sept. 25 Contemporary American and British politics and society, for Jan Erik Mustad )

"Big data and Facebook surveillance as new political strategies using 'Fake News'"

(Sept. 11 English culture, literature and didactics, with Jan Erik Mustad)

"Religious Extremism: Roots and Solutions"

(Oct. 9 Religious radicalisation, extremism and violence with Pål Ketil Botvar)

"The challenges of "Fake News" for Journalism"

(Sept. 25 Kristiansand Katedralskole)

"Tracing Streams of Scientific Misinformation in the News Media"

(Nov. 1 UiA Media and Communications Seminar, Lillesand)

"Sorting the true from the false: sources of fake news and real information"

(Nov. 20-21 PhD Course in Research Communication with Årstein Justnes & Josephine Munch Rasmussen)

"Trump and American politics"

(Oct. 15 Faedrelandsvennen, Kristiansand)

"After Hours: Election Night 2016"

(Nov. 12, Speakeasy event, Public Theater, NYC)

"The Challenges for Journalism in the "Fake News" era"

(Nov. 20 UiA Scholars at Risk conference)

"The Fascinating Fascist Wife: A Taxonomy"

(Nov. 22 UiA Library)


The great Amanda Foreman invited me to give a monologue on stage at the monthly Speakeasy event, part of her project raising money for literacy and promoting reading generally. I went over my time recounting my rambles on Election Day 2016. They kindly waited a full ten minutes before sending out the hook.

Here is an interview I did with Speakeasy before the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

My mom or dad reading poetry to me from the My Book House books. My dad scribbling in his little notebook (he was a poet) and quoting grave things at me like "Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by!" That's Yeats, Under Ben Bulben. I was writing poems in second grade.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

Hard to pick a favorite. Opening to a random page I find this amusing.

"Marla eventually found inner peace in a Dixieland gumbo of every late 20th Century pop-spirituality, from Hollywood Kabbalah to color therapy and yoga, but during her years in hiding, she got spiritual succor from Emmanuel's Book, in which author Pat Rodegast, channeling an occult philosopher named Emmanuel opines on "the limitless power of love."

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

I am sorry but I really don't remember first lines in novels. " It was the best of times it was the worst of times"?

Much better with lines of poetry.

Wordsworth: "Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive. But to be young was very heaven."

Ginsburg: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,"

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Try to maintain a three to one ratio of activity or being outdoors to sitting in the chair. But sitting in the chair (or standing at the standup desk) is truly the only way to do it. Write until it hurts, then walk away for a while.

What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?

Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa - in Sicily. Author of Il Gattopardo. I never would have imagined having an interest in the last days of the Sicilian aristocracy but he writes it like a painter, you can feel the peeling gilded paint and the crumbly madonnas.

I imagine he would know the best food and wine to order too.

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?

I sometimes walk around quoting Robert Frost in my head. The rhythms and his pastoral imagery soothe me.

What are you reading right now?

Andrew Marantz, AntiSocial,

Meghan Daum, The Problem With Everything.

Hannah Arend, Eichmann in Jerusalem

Border by Kapka Kassabova

What fictional character do you most closely identify with?

That changes all the time: Nancy Drew, Pynchon's Oedipa Maas, Michael Dibdin's world-weary detective Aurelio Zen, James Salter's men and women in Light Years, Sally Rooney's girls.

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I'm a sucker for fictional elegance set in the 1920s and '30s. Amor Towles Rules of Civility, Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, Alan Furst's sexy Paris in Kingdom of Shadows.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." - Samuel Johnson