June 23, 2009
Diana Eck’s Comments
With the transition from spring to summer, much has happened in these past weeks. First, let me recap my April-May trip to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to deliver The Gifford Lectures. This lectureship is an annual tradition at each of the four ancient universities in Scotland with the purpose of advancing philosophical and theological thought. It was quite an extraordinary scholarly and personal experience for me, something of an intellectual (and social) marathon. I met many scholars and religious leaders who are involved in the religious dimensions of immigration in Scotland and Great Britain more broadly. With the 100th anniversary of the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh now on the horizon, there is also increasing discussion of the theological issues of religious pluralism. I was also impressed with the energy and initiatives of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association.
State Department Delegation from Sweden
“Educating Christian, Jewish, & Muslim Leaders” Conference
Ning Site for High School Educators
USDOJ Training in Cleveland
The United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service Region V office based in Chicago used Fremont, USA in a training with the City of Cleveland this spring. The intention was to explore how the innovations found in the Fremont story – including its Human Relations Commission and program for the elderly – might be a model for fostering pluralism in other cities and towns. We look forward to expanding the ways in which our work can resource civic leaders.
Fremont, USA will have its European premiere at the 5th Globians World & Culture Documentary Film Fest in Berlin, Germany. The screening will take place on Thursday, August 13 at 2 PM under the theme, “Yes We Can! – Obama’s America.” For a full schedule of events, see: http://kinoberlin.blogspot.com/
La Trappe (The Trap)
On May 15, 2009, the Pluralism Project sponsored the US premiere of the short documentary film, La Trappe. Directed by Harvard Divinity School student Lina Verchery (MDiv ’10), this film explores the surprising connection between the French-speaking Acadian lobster fishermen of Chéticamp and their neighbors: the Buddhist monks and nuns of Gampo Abbey, Shambhala’s monastic headquarters. Although seemingly divided by language, culture and religion, these two communities nevertheless share more than meets the eye. The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Diana L. Eck. Panelists included Dr. Christopher Queen, lecturer on the Study of Religion at Harvard University; Frank Reynolds, former resident of Gampo Abbey; and Lina Verchery, director of La Trappe. This event was sponsored by the Pluralism Project in partnership with Alliance Française, Boston Shambhala Center, Consulate General of Boston, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and the French Consulate of Boston.
Premiering on PBS in June…
The Mosque in Morgantown
On June 13, 2009, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a screening and discussion of The Mosque in Morgantown at Harvard University. Directed by Boston-based filmmaker Brittany Huckabee, this documentary explores journalist Asra Nomani’s controversial campaign against what she believes are warning signs of Islamic extremism in her local mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia: the exclusion of women, an intolerance towards non-believers, and a growing suspicion of the West. After the screening, Dr. Diana L. Eck moderated a discussion on the film with Brittany Huckabee; Dr. Jocelyne Cesari, director of the Islam in the West Program; and Dr. Leila Ahmed, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. The event was co-sponsored by the Pluralism Project, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University. The Mosque in Morgantown premiered nationwide on PBS on June 15, 2009. A number of scholars, Muslim leaders, and community members are participating in an online forum about the film at: http://www.themosqueinmorgantown.com/forum/
New Muslim Cool
New Muslim Cool, a documentary by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, will premiere on PBS: POV on June 23. The film tells the life story of Hamza Pérez, a Puerto Rican American hip hop artist who converted to Islam at age 21, pulling himself off the streets to become a community activist and rising star. Forging unlikely friendships with a Jewish poet, a prison chaplain, and many others along his surprising spiritual journey, Hamza faces challenges with a message of hope, finding his balance in a world that never stops changing. The Pluralism Project will be partnering with Harvard University Art Museums and Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries in October for a screening featuring Hamza Pérez. Stay tuned for more information in the fall.
On May 10, the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center celebrated both the birth of Buddha and Mother’s Day in Central Square.
Obama Approval High Among Muslims, Jews, And Catholics
A Gallup poll tracking public opinion of Obama’s first 100 days in office found broad approval of the President among US Muslims, Jews, and Catholics.
Students Develop Interfaith Group On Campus
Students at Syracuse University recently formed the Interfaith Student Movement, with members who are members of the Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions.
California Passes Bill On Sikh Symbol Kirpan
On June 1, the California Assembly passed Bill AB-504, which requires the state to train law enforcement agencies about the Sikh kirpan.
City Mayors to Inaugurate Hindu Festival
City mayors Ralph Becker, Kent Money, and JoAnn Sehgeni inaugurated the “Rathothsava” and Annual Day of Celebrations of Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple and India Cultural Center in South Jordan, Utah.
Obama Calls for End to Discord With Muslim World
In a speech from Cairo, Egypt, President Obama called for a new beginning in relations between the United States and the Islamic world.
New Association for Sikh Police
The newly formed British Sikh Police Association will give Sikh officers across the United Kingdom an “officially recognized voice.”
Dutch Officials Visit Dearborn to Learn About Improving Muslim Relations
Dutch Cabinet Minister Francis Timmermans and other officials met with local religious leaders in Dearborn, Michigan, in an attempt to understand why Muslims are more widely accepted in the United States than in The Netherlands.
Bulgaria to Ban Religious Symbols In Schools
The Bulgarian government has approved a bill banning the hijab and other religious symbols in schools.
Hindus & Jews Want Australian Parliament to Shift to Multi-Faith Opening Prayers
American Hindu and Jewish leaders have called upon the Australian Parliament to allow a rotation of opening prayers that represents a variety of major religious traditions and aboriginal spirituality.