July 28, 2008

Pluralism Project Newsletter
July 28, 2008
In this Issue:
  • Diana Eck’s Comments
  • World Religions in Boston Summer Research
  • On Common Ground Third Edition Soon to Be Available
  • The Divided We Fall Campaign
  • Interactive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook
  • Devastation at the Mother MosqueMasjid (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... of America
  • Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines
  • International News: Top Headlines

Diana Eck’s Comments
[ Image: photo of Diana Eck with Lowell House bell ]
Dear Friends,
The summer weeks have passed quickly with a multitude of events and projects to keep us busy. I have spent time this summer bringing to a conclusion the project to return the Lowell House Russian bells (17 of them) to their historic home at the Danilov MonasteryA monastery is the residence of monks, or monastics; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. Monasticism refers to the life of work, study, and discipline led by monks and nuns. in Moscow. We had a symposium on the history of this set of bells–one of only four bell-sets to have survived the Stalin years. Then the scaffolding went up on the Lowell House belltower and the bells began to come down. The lowering of the big bells (“Mother Earth,” the largest, weighs 13 tons) took place on July 8, along with a ceremony officially transferring the title back to the Monastery. The Gazette article on that day and my remarks are attached here. I will be in Moscow in early September for the official reception of the bells at the Monastery. This has been a very interesting and rewarding chapter in our lives at Lowell House. It surely has something to do with pluralism, or at least with citizens reaching across lines that have long been tense with politics.
We were thrilled to join our assistant director Kathryn Lohre and her husband Tim Seitz in celebrating the birth of their son John IsaiahIsaiah was an 8th century BCE Hebrew prophet whose spiritual vision is recorded in the biblical book of Isaiah, although part of the book (usually said to be ch. 40-55) is commonly held to have been written by a second author of the 6th century BCE, refer... Lohre Seitz on June 8th. While she is on leave until early September, we are operating with a reduced core staff of researchers who are moving things forward. Thanks to a generous grant from the Rappaport Institute, we have three independent researchers doing field work in the Greater Boston area, which is detailed below. Chris Morales and Kimberly Richards are capably overseeing the day-to-day operations of our Cambridge Street office and providing weekly updates to Religious Diversity News.
As schedules for the fall begin to fill up, I want to be sure to invite you to join us for the premiere of our new documentary film, Fremont, USA, at the AAR in Chicago. As part of our annual reception, the premiere will be held on Friday evening, October 31, from 8:30 to 11:00 PM in the Hilton Chicago, Continental C. We look forward to this opportunity to catch up with each of you.
We wish you all a wonderful end to the summer!
Best Regards,

World Religions in Boston Summer Research
This summer we have three student researchers doing field work in the Greater Boston area on World Religions in Boston. Hillary Kaell, a PhD candidate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is providing updates to the ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church. section, including profiles of EvangelicalThe Greek word euangelion means “good news” and an evangelist is one who proclaims and shares the good news of Christ. Evangelism is the preaching and witnessing to that good news. Evangelicals are Christians who emphasize the personal experience of G..., Emergent 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 ..., and multi-ethnic congregations. In addition to managing staff email, Emily Ronald, a PhD candidate at Boston University’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies, has been attending several paganThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga... celebrations in the Boston area in order to provide updates to the section on PaganismThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga.... Alexis Gewertz, a recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School, is updating 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... and JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol... sections, and researching the role of religion in the 2008 presidential election. We are grateful to the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston for supporting this critical work.

On Common Ground Third Edition Soon to Be Available
[ Image: on common ground ]
The third edition of the Pluralism Project’s multimedia interactive CD-ROM, On Common Ground: World Religions in America, will be available by early fall. First published by Columbia University Press in 1997, the primary content of the CD-ROM remains as it was in the first version: through text, image, and sound, On Common Ground provides a snapshot of a historical moment in an emerging multireligious America. We are now taking orders for the third edition of the CD-ROM, which is Windows compatible only. For more information, please see: http://www.pluralism.org/ocg/index.php or download the order form.

The Divided We Fall Campaign
Pluralism Project Affiliate Valarie Kaur’s award-winning documentary film Divided We Fall tells the story of hate violence in the aftermath of 9/11 and explores the question: who counts as American? The story’s power has inspired the Divided We Fall Campaign: a grassroots movement to screen the film in every state across the nation during this September 11th anniversary. You are invited to join the Divided We Fall Campaign and host the film and discussion in your community on or near September 15th, the anniversary of the first post-9/11 hate murder of 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... American Balbir Sodhi. In doing so, you will be joining schools, universities, museums, libraries, houses of worship, government officials, and community centers in deep dialogue about racism, religion, reconciliation and healing in America.

Join the campaign. Contact tour director Jodi Elliott for details: jodi@dwf-film.com. Visit the film’s website at http://www.dwf-film.com for trailers, news, and reviews.

Interactive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook
SkyLight Paths Publishing announces the release of an exciting new book, Interactive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook, edited by Rev. Bud Heckman, Chief Development Officer at Hartford Seminary, and Rori Picker Neiss, Program Director at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. It includes contributions from many noted interfaith leaders and activists. The book can be purchased on the Skylight Paths Publishing website: http://www.skylightpaths.com or by calling 800-962-4544.

Devastation at the Mother Mosque of America
[ Image: Mother Mosque of America flood ]
Floodwaters entered the oldest mosque in America in mid-June, sparing the main floor but destroying the ground floor area, which housed many of the mosque’s books, artifacts, historical documents, old photos and filmed documentaries. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has organized a fundraiser to help raise money to repair the devastation at the mosque. For further information, or to donate to the recovery effort, please visit the Mother Mosque’s website: http://www.mothermosque.org

[ Image: Religious Diversity News icon ]

Religious Diversity News: Top Headlines

Russian Monastery Anticipates the Familiar Toll of Ancient Bells
After 78 years, Harvard University’s Lowell House bells will be returned to their original home at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow, Russia.

Religion Plays a Strong Role in Lives of Central American Immigrants
While the majority of Central American immigrants in the Greater Boston area remain Catholic, many are beginning to embrace ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists... and PentecostalPentecostalism is a term used to describe a twentieth-century Christian movement that emphasizes Spirit-filled worship, including glossolalia or “speaking in tongues,” as is said to have happened on the first day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago in ... forms of evangelical Christianity.

Pew Survey: Americans Religiously Tolerant
The second part of a landmark survey recently released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life indicates that most Americans tend to take a non-dogmatic approach to religion.

More Hindu Women Are Becoming Priests
As growing numbers of Hindu men enter secular professions, more Hindu women in the United States are choosing to serve as priestsA 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....

Historic Cedar Rapids Mosque Loses Prized Artifacts
The basement and ground floor of the Mother Mosque of America were devastated by floodwaters in early June, resulting in the destruction of many of the historic mosque’s heirlooms and artifacts.

International News: Top Headlines

Religious Groups Gaining Higher Profile at UN
Religious groups are playing new and increasingly significant roles at the United Nations as a result of the growing understanding that religious groups may be vitally important to achieving many of the UN’s goals.

Baha’i Shrines Chosen as World Heritage Sites
The United Nations World Heritage Committee announced that the two most sacred sites of the Baha’i faith, both located in IsraelLiterally “Wrestler with God”, Israel is the name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob and came to refer to the entire nation, bound in an eternal covenant to God. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the continuation of the ancien..., are now World Heritage sites.

Largest Mosque in Canada Opened
At 48,000 square feet, the newly opened spiritual home of Calgary’s AhmadiyyaThe Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was established in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He claimed to be the Messiah of this age, awaited by Muslims, Christians, and others. The missionary movement of his followers is now established in more than 144 coun... Muslims, Baitun Nur Mosque, is the largest Islamic house of worship in Canada.

World Religious Summit Urges G8 Leaders to Cooperate Closer
At the World Religious Summit held in Japan a few days before a G8 summit, religious leaders urged G8 leaders to cooperate more closely with religious circlesIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita....

French Muslim, Jewish Leaders Unite to Encourage Religious Tolerance
The newly elected leaders of France’s Muslim and Jewish communities, Mohammed Moussaoui and Gilles Bernheim, were united in their calls for increasing openness and religious tolerance.