July 11, 2005

Pluralism Project Newsletter
July 11, 2005

In this Issue:
• News Coverage of the London Bombings
• Acting on Faith: DVD now available
• New Film: Diana Eck on Pluralism in America
• Slide Show: Religious Diversity in Germany and Switzerland
• Slide Show: Religious Pluralism in Mauritius
• Pluralism Project Hosts Indonesian Visitors
• “Toto” Paglas visits Project, discusses reduction of religious conflict in the Philippines

News Coverage of the London Bombings

Greetings from the Pluralism Project. Our staff has just posted a compilation of responses from the many religious communities of Britain to the bombings in London. We highlight some voices not as readily heard on many news sources.

Responses to the London Bombings

Acting on Faith: DVD now available

[ Image: Muslim women play soccer. ]

The Pluralism Project is pleased to announce that Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America is now available for purchase. Acting on Faith is a documentary film that offers an intimate look at the lives and work of three American women – one Buddhist, one Hindu, and one Muslim – for whom faith, activism, and identity are deeply intertwined. The film was produced and directed by Rachel Antell and narrated by Dr. Diana L. Eck. Short clips and more information about the film are available online.


We are currently selling single copies of the DVD for $40 each, including shipping and handling. VHS copies are available by special request. A study guide will be available online by late summer. Please email Kathryn Lohre at klohre@fas.harvard.edu or call her at 617/496-2481 if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the film.

New Film: Diana Eck on Pluralism in America

The Hartley Film Foundation has released a new film portrait of Dr. Diana Eck in which she addresses religious pluralism in America. According to their press release, she “calls for increased interfaith efforts to address global, national, civic and theological issues of religious diversity throughout the world.”


Slide Show: Religious Diversity in Germany and Switzerland

[ Image: Hindu priestA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... performs ritual at the annual templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... festival ]

Dr. Martin Baumann and his colleagues have put together a slide show and accompanying introduction that “aims to provide an idea of the evolved religious diversity by portraying religions brought by immigrants from Asia to Europe. It depicts and describes selected places of Buddhist, Hindu and SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... worship in Germany and Switzerland. Though there are considerable numbers of western converts, especially so in the case of BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther..., the show is restricted to the experience and locations of Asian immigrants. Most often, the places established, whether small in a narrow basement or huge in a newly built edifice, form vivid homes away from home. They provide nostalgic remembrances of as well as continuing links to the people, culture and religion left behind.”


Slide Show: Religious Pluralism in Mauritius

[ Image: Hindu women bathing prior to Kavadee festival ]

As part of our international research, Affiliate Clare Sisisky’s work on religious diversity in Mauritius includes a full report and slide show of two Hindu festivals. She writes, “The African island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, is known as the ‘rainbow nation’ due to the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity that thrives there. In most Mauritian towns and cities, the variety of Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit..., and Catholic churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... demonstrates the complex religious landscape of the island. As religious conflicts plague many nations, regions, and local communities, and as increased immigration and globalization generate inter-religious encounters, it is essential to understand how to negotiate religious diversity and foster pluralistic societies. Mauritius offers the world a unique window into the challenges and successes of religious pluralism.” Additional images are forthcoming.


Pluralism Project Hosts Indonesian Visitors

On Tuesday, March 22, 2005 the Pluralism Project hosted a group of visitors from Indonesia as part of a study tour entitled “Multiculturalism in a Democratic Society.” The tour, arranged under the auspices of the International Visitor Leadership Program at the US Department of State and WorldBoston, included a visit to the new Pluralism Project offices and a meeting with Director Diana Eck to discuss the Project and its work studying religious diversity in the United States.

Among the visitors were Ms. Chofifah Parawansa, National Chairperson for the Muslimat Nahdlatul UlamaThe ‘ulama are literally “the learned ones” or “scholars.” They are recognized scholarly authorities in Islamic law and in interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah. In Sunni Islam, the consensus of the ‘ulama is considered by many to be final and ..., Mr. Zuhairi Bin Misrawi, Program Officer for the Emancipatory Islamic Network and the Indonesian Society for Pesantren and Community Development (P3M), Mr. MuhammadThe Prophet Muhammad, known as “the Seal of the Prophets,” was born in the city of Makkah on the Arabian peninsula in 570 C.E. At 40, he began to receive a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. His small group of followers met with... Adnan, Chairman of the Central Java Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), and Ms. Eva Yuliana, Vice Treasurer of the Central Java National Awakening Party (PKB). Also joining the meeting was Sukidi Mulyadi, a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School and affiliate of the Indonesia-based Liberal IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... Network.

“Toto” Paglas visits Project, discusses reduction of religious conflict in the Philippines

On April 6, 2005, the Pluralism Project hosted a visit by Datu Ibrahim “Toto” Pendatun Paglas III, President and CEO of the Paglas Corporation and former mayor of Davao, located in Mindanao, the southern Philippine island torn by religious conflict. Mr. Paglas has drawn widespread attention for his successful efforts at reducing violence in his region by providing economic opportunities to fighting parties. His visit occurred under the auspices of the Eisenhower Fellowship program.

Mr. Paglas was met by Director Diana Eck and research associates Scott Buquor and Tony Watson. Accompanying Mr. Paglas were graduate students Edilwasif Badiri of the Kennedy School and Adel Tamano of Harvard Law School. Mr. Paglas presented on his work in Mindanao and discussed some of the organizations and individuals active there.