Jonathan Haidt Headlines the New Gotto Lecture Series

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church has announced that the social psychologist and best-selling author Jonathan Haidt will inaugurate the Anita and Antonio Gotto Lecture Series this fall.

Haidt’s appearance is set for 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 25. The event will be moderated by Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston.

“The Gotto Lecture Series is intended to create provocative opportunities for learning and engagement with some of the best minds in religion and ethics,” Scott said. “At a time when Americans are divided sharply, and angrily, by politics and ideology, Jonathan Haidt helps us understand the causes of our deep polarization. More importantly, he offers hope that we can come together and heal."

Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His research focuses on the use of moral psychology to transcend the “culture wars," enhance public discourse and foster more civil forms of politics.

Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (Basic Books, 2006), which drew connections between contemporary psychology and ancient religious and philosophical wisdom on the human condition. His next book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon Books, 2012), reached #6 on the New York Times’ best-seller list for non-fiction. He is the co-author (with Greg Lukianoff) of the forthcoming book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Penguin Publishing Group, 2018).  

His lecture at Fifth Avenue will draw on the major themes of these books.

“American society has moved sharply away from ancient wisdom and mutual understanding,” Haidt says. “This is nowhere more clear than on college campuses. This is the focus of the third book, which draws heavily on the first two.”

Scott announced The Coddling of the American Mind as the selection for Fifth Avenue's annual congregational book-read. Scheduled for publication on Sept. 4, the book is available for pre-ordering through and other online merchants.

The Gotto Lecture Series is made possible through a generous contribution from Anita and Dr. Tony Gotto to the Generation to Generation Capital Campaign. The Gottos have been members of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian church since 1998.

Through the Gotto Lecture Series, Fifth Avenue will offer compelling talks and presentations by renowned theologians and preachers, writers and scholars, across a range of faith traditions and academic disciplines. This series will build on the success of our visiting authors program, created in 2010, which has featured such acclaimed writers as Thomas Long, Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Brown Taylor and Christian Wiman.

More details about the Gotto Lecture by Jonathan Haidt will be announced in September.

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