October 14, 2009

Pluralism Project Newsletter
October 14, 2009
In this Issue:
  • Diana Eck’s Comments
  • Documentary Film Initiative
  • Interfaith Film Series in Greater Boston
  • New Muslim Cool and Hamza Pérez at Harvard: Standing Room Only
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell, October 21
  • Affiliate News
  • Patheos.com
  • Teaching About Religion
  • 5th Annual Unity Walk in DC
  • Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Religion Communication Congress 2010
  • Religious Diversity News: Key Themes

Diana Eck’s Comments
[ Image: photo of Dr. Eck ]
Dear Friends,
As fall arrives in Cambridge, we are settling into our new office in Harvard Square. Our windows here on the fourth floor overlook the east side of Harvard yard and the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, reminding us of our groundings both in the academy and in religious communities. We share the floor with other departments in the Arts & Humanities, including our immediate neighbor, Ethnic Studies.
[ Image: photo of "New Muslim Cool" event ]
Our shared space is perhaps emblematic of other shifts happening across the University. In her recent remarks, Harvard University President Drew Faust called for increased inter-departmental collaborations. Just this past weekend, we sponsored a screening of New Muslim Cool, which is featured below. Nine of our eleven co-sponsors included Harvard departments, centers, and programs, including the Harvard Art Museum which hosted the event and a special exhibit of Islamic art. While the arts are a successful medium for this kind of innovative, inter-disciplinary work – and a remarkable way to broaden our constituencies – we hope that this new way of working together will continue to take hold in all areas of our academic life, including teaching and research.
In just a month we will join many of you in Montréal at the American Academy of Religion. We welcome you to join us for our reception on Friday, November 6 from 9-11 PM in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Hochelaga 5. This year’s program will focus on “Religion in the New Cosmopolis,” using Boston, Montréal, and other affiliate research sites as a starting point for conversation. We will explore how case studies, documentary film, and our recently relaunched interactive webguide, World Religions in Greater Boston, can be used by teachers, religious and civic leaders, and community activists to build a culture of pluralism. We will also hear from Project Affiliate Dr. Patrice Brodeur about religious diversity in Montréal. We welcome you to bring your updates as well.
In order to provide ongoing opportunities for networking and resource sharing, the Pluralism Project has recently joined Facebook. You can find my profile (with the Project logo), and you can also become a fan of the Pluralism Project. In the weeks to come, we will add new resources and groups, and we plan to post announcements, news articles, and event listings on our wall. We have already created groups for Pluralism Project alumni and affiliates (we realize that some of you might join both!), and we look forward to networking with you online.
We have recently welcomed a new group of student researchers who are working on projects related to our documentary film and case study initiatives, and World Religions in Greater Boston. Brief bios of this exceptional group can be found at: http://pluralism.org/about/people.php#research_associates
We wish you the best for this new academic year.

Documentary Film Initiative
[ Image: Fremont, USA icon ]
Since our last newsletter, our documentary film Fremont, U.S.A has been screened at film festivals and convenings from the Bay Area to Berlin, and beyond! In August, Fremont, U.S.A. was selected for the Globians Film Festival in Berlin, Germany: the documentary was featured in a set of screenings entitled “Obama’s America: Yes We Can!” On September 8, Fremont, U.S.A. offered the starting point for dialogue and discussion at a meeting of the Northern California Religious Leaders in Conversation, “Living Faithfully in a Multireligious World.” The event brought together nearly 50 leaders from around the Bay Area, representing several Christian denominations as well as the Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Muslim communities; Rachel Antell, the film’s co-producer, spoke at the gathering. A few days later, Fremont, U.S.A. was screened in a very different venue: the graceful Château de Padies in the South of France for the Culture & Cultures Intercultural Film Festival. And, on September 15, Research Director Elinor Pierce presented Fremont, U.S.A. at a workshop of the International Metropolis Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a convening of researchers, academics, policy makers, and representatives of NGOs working in the areas of migration and diversity. We look forward to more screenings of the film this fall!

Interfaith Film Series in Greater Boston
The Pluralism Project is partnering with Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries on an interfaith film series in Greater Boston. Using film as a medium for interfaith encounter and dialogue, this series is intended to expand the audience and impact of our work.

New Muslim Cool and Hamza Pérez at Harvard: Standing Room Only
[ Image: photo of Dr. Asani, Hamza Perez, and Dr. Eck ]
On Saturday, October 10, 2009 the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a screening of New Muslim Cool, a documentary film by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor featuring Hamza Pérez – a Puerto Rican American rapper, father, prison chaplain, and Muslim. To view a trailer, and to explore the film’s website, go to http://www.newmuslimcool.com. This remarkable event, which drew nearly 300 people, included a free special exhibit of Sacred Spaces: The World of Dervishes, Fakirs and Sufis at the Harvard Art Museum. Following the film, Dr. Ali Asani, Harvard Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, offered his reflections as a segue into an engaging and inspiring Q&A with Hamza Pérez.
Sponsored by the Pluralism Project, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and the Harvard Art Museum. Co-sponsored by: Active Voice, the Center for the Study of World Religions, the Harvard Foundation, the Harvard Islamic Society, the Hiphop Archive at Harvard University, the Islam in the West Program, the Muslim American Society Boston Chapter, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, and the Outreach Center for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell, October 21
[ Image: film poster ]
On Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:30 PM the Pluralism Project is co-sponsoring with Coexistence International a screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell at the Wasserman Cinematheque at Brandeis University. This film chronicles the story of a group of Liberian women who were instrumental in bringing peace to their country after decades of civil war. The Liberian women’s peace movement provides a stunning example of the unifying power and resilience of grassroots activism in the face of intense poverty and violence. To see a trailer of the film, and to learn more about its production, go to http://www.forkfilms.net/pray-the-devil-back-to-hell/
The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to: coexistenceintl@brandeis.edu
Coexistence International is convening this event with support from Brandeis International Business School, Facing History and Ourselves, Goldfarb Library, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Intercultural Center, International and Global Studies, the Journalism Program, the Legal Studies Program, the MA Program in Coexistence and Conflict, Office of Graduate Student Affairs, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Program, the Pluralism Project, the Program in Social Justice and Social Policy, Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Women’s Studies Research Center.

Affiliate News

The Pluralism Project has a large network of affiliates whose work on campuses and in communities expands our impact throughout the United States and beyond. We invite our affiliates to submit updates to us by emailing staff@pluralism.org

Dr. Douglas Hicks
On October 5, Affiliate Dr. Douglas Hicks offered a seminar entitled, “Strange and Familiar Coworkers: Overlapping Discourses of Religion and Spirituality in Business,” at Harvard Divinity School. “The Business Across Religious Traditions (BART) seminars—made possible through the generosity and vision of H. Bruce McEver, Harvard MBA ’69—bring together professionals who share an interest in the relationships between religion and business, exploring the challenges and opportunities of globalism and pluralism in the twenty-first century.”

Dr. Hicks is associate professor of Leadership Studies and Religion at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond. He recently published the book: With God on All Sides: Leadership in a Devout and Diverse America.

Dr. Claude Jacobs
Affiliate Dr. Claude Jacobs, and his colleague Bill McNeece, who are staff of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, attended the first Peninsular Malaysia Conference on Ecumenical and Interreligious Ministry held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 10-11. This conference, hosted by Father Michael Chua, a Roman Catholic priest who is part of the Fulbright Interfaith Action Scholars Program, was part of a semester-long partnership between the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the Ecumenical Theological Seminary. Dr. Jacobs and Mr. McNeece presented a photographic exhibition entitled, “Religious Pluralism in America: The Case of Multicultural Diversity in Detroit.”

Dr. Jacobs is the director of the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and assistant professor of Anthropology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences. Mr. William McNeece is the director of photography for the Pluralism Project at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a lecturer in Sociology.

[ Image: Patheos logo ]
We invite you to explore a new website. Patheos.com is “a place to engage in global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. Patheos is unlike any other online religious and spiritual site and is designed to serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about different belief systems, as well as participate in discussions on some of today’s most talked about and debated topics.”

Teaching About Religion
[ Image: "Teaching About Religion" flyer ]
The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington has recently published a new handbook entitled, Teaching About Religion. Representatives from 11 faith traditions respond to questions on: historical and cultural background; ethics and morality; God or Ultimate Truth; scripture; worship; life cycle; afterlife; governance; attitude toward the “other”; and common misconceptions. The foreword was written by Dr. Charles Haynes from the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. More information and order forms are available at http://www.ifcmw.org/

5th Annual Unity Walk in DC

The Pluralism Project is a partner of the 5th Annual Unity Walk which will take place on Sunday, October, 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. This year’s theme of “Celebrating Our Faiths, Uniting to Serve” builds on a movement born as a peaceful response to the tragedies of 9/11. Reminiscent of Gandhi’s Walks, thousands will gather along Embassy Row building bridges of respect as a model for the world to emulate. Congregations from a dozen faith traditions will open their doors for hospitality and prayer. Speakers will include Rev. Mpho Tutu, Arun Gandhi, and Maureen Fiedler.

For more information about how to participate in or support this effort, visit http://www.911unitywalk.org

Parliament of the World’s Religions
[ Image: Parliament logo ]
In less than two months, the largest international interfaith gathering will convene in Melbourne, Australia. “Make a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing the earth,” is the theme of the Parliament of World’s Religions, taking place December 3-9, 2009. Information about how to participate, including schedules, program, and speaker details, is now available at http://www.parliamentofreligions.org

Religion Communication Congress 2010
[ Image: Congress logo ]
RCCongress 2010 “Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today’s World” will take place April 7-10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. More than a thousand professionals, students and academics, involved in all aspects of faith communications, are expected to be at this must-attend event to explore the changes in technology, in society, and in perceptions of religion that affect the way faith stories are told. Dr. Diana Eck will be a plenary speaker on pluralism. For full listings of speakers, workshops, and more visit the congress website at https://www.rccongress2020.org/history

Religious Diversity News: Key Themes
[ Image: RDN logo ]
Our Religious Diversity News database allows you to search by city, state, date, tradition, and key theme. Our key themes cover a range of topics, including: religious diversity in the workplace, hospitals, the military, and prisons; statistics on religious identification in the U.S.; center openings and milestones; religious discrimination and accommodation; religious education and religion in the schools; hate crimes, violence and vandalism; holidays and observances; and women in multireligious America. We invite you to explore our key themes as useful tools for your research, community organizing, or simply for satisfying your curiosity!

Sample Key Themes: Business/Workplace; Education/Schools; Women/Gender Relations