February 13, 2007

Pluralism Project Newsletter
February 13, 2007
In this Issue:
  • Dr. Diana L. Eck’s Comments
  • Dr. Eck on “Religion and its Role in Global Affairs”
  • Close to Home: Dr. Eck Gives Talk at Old Ship ChurchThe 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 ...
  • On the Road: Dr. Eck Speaks in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Thank You to 2006 Contributors
  • SheikhThe Arabic term “shaykh” literally means a gray-haired old man. The Persian term “pir” means “elder, master.” Both terms have become titles of respect for a leader with great authority or religious piety. In the context of Sufi orders, the sha... 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... Al-Sherif Visit
  • “Muslims in Europe and the United States: A Transatlantic Comparison”
  • Touchstones Interfaith Series
  • 2007 Summer Internships
  • Golden Rule Curriculum
  • Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines
  • International News: Top Headlines

Dr. Diana L. Eck’s Comments
[ Image: photo of Dr. Eck and Grove Harris ]
Dear Friends,
As 2007 begins, we have embarked upon a period of transition as we implement a new organizational framework. I regretfully announce that this will mean the departure of GroveSacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”... Harris, who has served as our Managing Director.For over a decade, Grove has contributed enormously to the research and expansion of the Pluralism Project through her own work and through her work with our student staff and network of affiliates. I have outlined her accomplishments in my letter posted online at: http://pluralism.org/about/2007_reorganization.php

She will continue some of her work as an affiliate of the Pluralism Project: http://www.pluralism.org/affiliates/harris/

On January 31, forty friends and colleagues gathered at the Pluralism Project to honor Grove. It was a wonderful evening of celebration.

We are grateful, and wish her all the best. Thank you, Grove.

Dr. Eck on “Religion and its Role in Global Affairs”

Dr. Eck speaks about the ways in which religion unites and divides people throughout the world on: Religion and its Role in Global Affairs, Part I, broadcast on Public Radio International’s The World on ChristmasChristmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Since the fourth century this observance has been held on December 25 in the Western church. Day 2006.

Close to Home: Dr. Eck Gives Talk at Old Ship Church

On Sunday, January 14, Diana Eck spoke at the 325th anniversary celebration of the Old Ship Meeting House in Hingham, Massachusetts, the oldest wooden “meetinghouse in continuous ecclesiastical use in the United States.” Her address was entitled, “The New New England and the Old Ship.”

On the Road: Dr. Eck Speaks in Charlotte, North Carolina

In late January, Diana Eck traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to speak at the Levine Museum of the New South, where the “Families of Abraham” exhibit is currently on display. Families of AbrahamAbraham is the patriarch, acknowledged as the father of the lineage of faith by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. He is presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE. He is the father of Isaac by Sarah (Genesis 12.25), and the "... celebrates the faith traditions and lives of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim families in Charlotte. Six photographers photographed eleven families over the course of a year and the exhibit provides a compelling portrait of these families and their religious traditions. See Religious Diversity News below for an interview conducted with Diana in advance of her visit. During this visit, Diana also gave an evening lecture at the Myers Park BaptistThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers. Church.

Levine Museum of the New South website: www.museumofthenewsouth.org

Thank You to 2006 Contributors

Thank you to all those who have contributed to the Pluralism Project this past year, whether through research, outreach in your own community, or through a financial gift. We would like to highlight our 2006 Friends of the Project. Your generosity has helped us to amplify our efforts.

Friends of the Project

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sherif Visit
[ Image: photo of Sheikh Al-Sherif, Dr. Eck, and Dr. Ahmed ]
On December 7, 2006, the Pluralism Project welcomed Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sherif, current ImamImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... of the Islamic Cultural Institute (ICI) in St. Clair Shores, Michigan to its offices for a visit with Dr. Diana Eck, Dr. Leila Ahmed of Harvard Divinity School, and Pluralism Project staff. Trained at Al-Azhar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sherif is a former student of Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the current Grand Mufti of Egypt. Before his recent move to the US to head up ICI, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sherif was Imam of two mega-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... in Giza, a large working-class district in Cairo. He also runs the Al-Kamal Association for Social and Charitable Activity and is a member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sherif had last visited the Pluralism Project in May 2006 as part of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Program.
Islamic Cultural Institute website: www.icionline.org

“Muslims in Europe and the United States: A Transatlantic Comparison”

This conference, organized by Dr. Jocelyne Cesari of the 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... in the West Program at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, was held at Harvard University on December 15-16, 2006. Participants presented the results of a six-nation study conducted in Europe on the status of Muslims. Scholars who are currently working on this topic in the US offered comparative perspectives and suggested directions for future research.

Conference papers are available online.

Islam in the West Program website: http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/research/iw

Touchstones Interfaith Series
[ Image: photo of Research Associate Deonnie Moodie ]
On January 9, 2007, Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre and Research Associate Deonnie Moodie gave a presentation on pluralism in Winchester, Massachusetts. The occasion was the kickoff for a six-part interfaith series sponsored by Touchstones, a women’s spirituality group at the First CongregationalThe congregational form of Protestant Christianity has traditionally affirmed the autonomy and authority of the local congregation in calling and ordaining its ministers and organizing its affairs. In the 17th century, the English Puritans introduced cong... Church of Winchester, Massachusetts. Their presentation included an introduction to religious pluralism, a slide show of various religious centers in Boston that were part of Dr. Eck’s World Religions in Boston course last fall, and an overview of our women’s networks initiative. This was followed by a lively question and answer session. An enormous thank you to our gracious hosts!

2007 Summer Internships

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University seeks interns for the summer of 2007. Interns will be involved in a wide variety of projects including research, site visits, outreach, website and database maintenance, and administrative tasks.

For more information see: http://www.pluralism.org/resources/calendar/summer_internships.php

Golden Rule Curriculum

A new addition to our Online Interfaith Resources is the Golden Rule Curriculum. Developed by the Scarboro Missions of Canada as part of their interfaith dialogue outreach, this curriculum is a tool intended “primarily for high school juniors and seniors (ages 16 to 18) to demonstrate that the Golden Rule is more than a behavioral guide for small children.” It contains exercises and resources that focus on the Golden Rule throughout various cultures and faith traditions in order to engage students in discussions on ethical principles and moral behavior.

For more information see: http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=74171

[ Image: Religious Diversity News icon ]

Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines

Buddhist Congresswoman Sworn in, Urges Tolerance
Rep. Mazie Hirono, a Buddhist woman and a Hawaii Democrat, is sworn into Congress using no book at all.

American Muslim Models Interfaith Group on Peace Corps
Affiliate Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Youth Core provides a viable model for interfaith service.

Q&A with Diana Eck: A Look at Charlotte’s Diverse Religious Scene
Dr. Diana L. Eck gives an interview in advance of her visit to Charlotte, North Carolina to speak at the Levine Museum of the New South in celebration of the exhibit, “Families of Abraham.”

Valley Muslims Seek Equality in School Holidays
Senior Researcher Elinor Pierce offers commentary on how schools are (or are not) accommodating religious holidays.

International News: Top Headlines

Buddhism Gains Foothold in the Bay (New Zealand)
Immigrants from Laos and Thailand have increased the Buddhist population in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Hajj 2006
A link to our cross-reference for coverage of HajjHajj, or pilgrimage to the Ka’bah in Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam, performed by millions annually during Dhu’l-Hijjah, the last lunar month. The Hajj is required at least once in a lifetime of every Muslim in good health and with financ... 2006.

Six Religions Exchange Views on Care for the Dying (China)
The Interreligious Dialogue Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic DioceseA diocese is an administrative unit of the Christian Church, presided over by a bishop. hosted a multi-religious dialogue in December 2006 on religious views of death and dying.