About On Common Ground

On Common Ground: World Religions in America is an interactive web resource based on the research of the Pluralism Project and affiliates. For over twenty five years, the Pluralism Project, under the direction of Diana L. Eck, has studied the emergence of an increasingly multireligious America.

ocg_historicalFirst published by Columbia University Press in 1997, second and third editions of On Common Ground were released in 2002 and 2008. While functionality increased with these later editions, the primary content remained unchanged from the original publication. Then, in 2013, thanks to generous funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Pluralism Project releaseocgmenud an online version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America, complete with updated essays and resources. In 2016, with the redevelopment and relaunch of pluralism.org, the three sections of On Common Ground—Religions, Landscape, and Encounterbecame the backbone of the Pluralism Project’s entire web presence. By combining the time-tested pedagogical structure of the original CD-ROM withthe increased interactive features of online publication, the new On Common Ground  and pluralism.org will ensure teachers and students of all ages have the opportunity to explore the historical dimensions and current realities of a multireligious America.

religions America’s Many Religions follows the development and life of seventeen traditions in the American context: Buddhist, Christian, DaoistThe Daoist tradition incorporates a highly diverse range of philosophical, religious, and folk values and practices, all of which share a concern for realigning human life so that it is in better accord with the natural rhythms of the universe. Symbols of..., Hindu, Humanist, Jewish, Jain, Muslim, Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp..., 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..., Afro-Caribbean, Bahá’í, Confucian, 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..., ShintoShinto, the “way of the kami” refers to the indigenous Japanese religious traditions which focus on the worship of kami. Initially, rituals devoted to kami took place outdoors in natural surroundings. Later, wooden structures were constructed to house..., Unitariana belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation... Universalist, and ZoroastrianOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra.... A general introduction to each tradition is included, along with an introduction to the history of the tradition in the United States. There are glimpses of the experiences of people in each tradition and discussions of some of the issues people in each tradition are grappling with in the American context today. This section also includes timelines, glossary terms, and links to additional resources.

A New Religious Landscape provides resources for landscapestudying America’s new religious landscape through the lens of various cities across the nation. What does the new religious landscape look like today with its 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..., gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., churchesThe 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 templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref...? In this section there are twenty interactive maps that integrate the Project’s online directory of religious centers with select data from the United States Census. Additional features include portraits of religiously diverse neighborhoods in major metropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. areas.

encounterEncountering Religious Diversity enables users to explore the new and old questions of American identity in the context of its religious diversity. In what ways has America dealt with religious difference historically? What are some of today’s challenges, as communities, schools, and public institutions take stock of America’s new religious diversity? In 2016, links to the Pluralism Project’s Case Study Initiative and to the pilot study of America’s interfaith infrastructure were added to this section.

Since its creation, On Common Ground: World Religions in America has received considerable critical acclaim and a number of awards. The CD-ROM won the EDUCAUSE Medal in 1998, cited as “an extraordinary resource” and a “pioneering work”; it was also a Media and Methods 1998 Awards Portfolio winner, was on Choice’s 35th Annual Outstanding Academic Books list, and was a finalist for the 1998 EdPress Distinguished Achievement Award. The resource’s most enduring legacy is the referrals and ongoing demand of the resource by teachers, professors, clergyClergy are the body of ordained men (and in some cases women) who are authorized to perform the priestly, pastoral, or rabbinical duties of the community—as distinct from the laity whom they serve., community leaders, and individuals across the nation and even the world.

On Common Ground was developed by Diana L. Eck, together with students, staff, and advisors of the Pluralism Project. Click here for further credits.

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