December 11, 2008

Pluralism Project Newsletter
December 11, 2008
Dear Friends,
[ Image: photo of Diana Eck ]
As 2008 comes to a close, we write to you – our colleagues, friends, and partners – to ask for your support for the ongoing work of the Pluralism Project. It is, to be sure, a sobering time. In the aftermath of terror in Mumbai, and amidst fears of sectarian violence, we are heartened by the many voices calling for people to come together and say, “Enough is enough.” This time, the interfaith repercussions of violence seem to have gained strength. In communities around the world, people have gathered to condemn the attacks and to stand together in commitment. In the U.S., interfaith affirmations of unity have come from the heartland of America to the Harvard campus. Last week, the Hindu Temple of Omaha, Nebraska hosted a prayer meeting with Jews and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. The Omaha World Herald noted, “The gathering was diverse – like the terrorists’ victims.” On the steps of Harvard’s Memorial Church, students from many religious communities held a candlelight vigil. Those with family roots in Mumbai and in Pakistan spoke movingly of their refusal to let violence set them against one another. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu students offered reflections and prayers.

As we look forward, we at the Pluralism Project find that our work is more important than ever. In a world in which violence seizes the headlines, we are committed to listening carefully to the voices of those that seek to engage and build, rather than divide. We are committed to research that illumines some of the most promising models of pluralism in multi-religious societies. And we are committed to cultivating civic, religious, and academic leadership attuned to the demands of a religiously diverse world.

2009 promises to be a busy year:

• We will bring our new documentary film, “Fremont, USA,” – and the discussion of the problems and promise of pluralism — to a wider audience.

• We will launch a new “World Religions in Greater Boston Online,” with expanded content, modeling a much-needed online resource for cities everywhere.

• We will provide our unique RDN, “Religious Diversity News” service, covering vital issues in religious pluralism in the U.S. and internationally.

• We will continue our Boston Workshop, connecting students of theology and local Christian ministers with Boston’s multireligious context, as we visit Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh centers.

• We will develop new educational materials through our Case Study initiative to enable students and teachers to explore the dilemmas of our multireligious society in a classroom setting.

• We will host visitors from abroad – researchers, religious leaders, and diplomatic delegations.

• We will invite a group of summer interns to our office in Cambridge, and engage a new generation of scholars and leaders.

This year, our special fundraising focus is for student research and internships. Especially in light of the economic downturn, it is essential that we be able to fund students who are eager to engage with the issues of pluralism in our society. Today’s student researchers and interns are tomorrow’s professors and policy makers, religious and community leaders, teachers and activists. Your donations will ensure that we can expand – and diversify – our vital summer internship program and continue to involve talented undergraduates and graduate students in this critical field of study. A gift of $1000 will support a student work-study position; $2000 will fund a student’s summer project. Please help us with this investment in the next generation.

With your help and support, the Pluralism Project will continue to be an agile organization that conducts groundbreaking research, provides quality educational resources, and is responsive to the ever-increasing requests we receive for information and collaboration. We are grateful for the generosity so many of you have shown in the past, and hope that you will continue to offer your support. With your tax-deductible donation, we would like to send you a copy of our new DVD, “Fremont, USA.”

Information about giving to the Pluralism Project can be found at: http://www.pluralism.org/about/donation.php

My sincere thanks and best wishes to you for a new year filled with hope and peace.

Sincerely,

Diana L. Eck
Director, The Pluralism Project
Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies
Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society