See for Yourself: Interfaith Conversations at Harvard


Cambridge, MA. As many readers of In All Things know, I am a Harvard professor, and currently also Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at the Divinity School. We’ve just finished another most interesting, invigorating, and (don’t tell anyone) exhausting year of programming, events for faculty and students and the wider university and neighborhood community. You can find many of our events at our website, but here are a few videos that you may enjoy sampling over this long weekend or in the summer months:


February 7 My Neighbor's Faith: A Critical Conversation. For Harvard’s Interfaith Week, a panel discussion of a new book of short autobiographical accounts of how some 40+ individuals became interested in interfaith work.

February 28 The 2013 Dudleian Lecture, Priesthood of the Faithful: Light in the Darkness, given by Sister Mary Hughes, OP, prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Amityville and former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious:

March 7 Permaculture and the Sacred: A Conversation with Starhawk, the well-known contemporary witch, activist, and permaculturist.

March 13 Intellectual Worlds of Meditation: Participation in the Divine Life: Part of our ongoing series on meditation, this lecture featured Brother Geoffrey Tristam, an Anglican monk and superior of the St. John the Evangelist Monastery here in Cambridge.

April 2 The Papacy and the State of the Roman Catholic Church: A panel the Center co-sponsored with the Divinity School, on the occasion of the election of Pope Francis, featuring radio personality Christopher Lydon as host, and James Carroll, the well-known Catholic author and journalist, and myself as panel members.

April 4 To Forgive Is Human: Jewish Reflections on the Meaning and Practice of Forgiveness: Our annual List Lecture in Jewish Studies, given by Professor Louis Newman of Carlton College.

April 15 The Song of Songs: Translation, Reception, Reconfiguration: part of our annual conference at the Center, this time on the Song of Songs as received, studied, and imagined in religious and scholarly settings. This is the public panel featuring four distinguished scholars who came for the conference.

April 29 Making Space for Meditation: Reflections on Practice in an Academic Setting: four of our students sharing accounts of their regular meditation practice, with particular reference to our Center’s Meditation Room – a most enlightening account of how young people are finding their way in spiritual practice today. This is our future.

These should be enough to keep the most ardent viewer busy for a while, and the videos speak for themselves. I would just emphasize the effect of this rich variety of events. On the one hand, they are very different from one another, and there is no way to make them all fit into a single harmonious theology. On the other, all were, in my view, quite vibrant and full of intellectual and spiritual energy, a testament that religion and spiritual insight and practice are alive and well today. See what you think.

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PJ Johnston
5 years ago
Many thanks for these links, especially on the Song of Songs! I would not hear of many of these events without help from others.


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