Bates to hold symposium on interfaith relations

Issues of respect among adherents of the world’s religions will be explored in a three-day symposium at Bates College on Oct. 24-26 in Room 105 of the Olin Arts Center.

Whose God? A Symposium on Tolerance and Interfaith Relations is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Bates College and the Dimmer- Bergstrom Fund as the third in a series of Bates College Symposia in Religion and Contemporary Issues.

“In a world ravaged by religiously motivated violence, the conference will explore the potential for tolerance and genuine mutual respect among individuals of differing religious persuasions,” symposium organizer Mishael Caspi, visiting professor of religion at Bates, said. The conference includes a series of discussions with representatives of a wide variety of religious traditions. A concluding workshop for teachers will focus on resources and ideas for dealing with issues of religious tolerance in schools.

The symposium will begin at 2:45 p.m. Oct. 24 with introductory remarks followed by the keynote address, Unheard Music: A Contemplative Approach to Interreligious Dialogue, given by Kenneth P. Kramer, professor of religion at San Jose State University.

The author of three books published by Paulist Press, Kramer received his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Temple University, his bachelor of divinity in systematic theology from the Andover Newton Theological School, his master’s degree in religion and divinity from the Yale Divinity School and his doctoral degree in religion and culture from Temple University.

The Oct. 25 schedule of presentations includes:

  • 9 a.m. – Eli Reich, Ph.D candidate, The University of Chicago, on One Voice, Many Voices: ‘The Voice of the Lord is Powerful.”
  • 10:30 a.m. – The Rev. Donna Hailson, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, on One God: The Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.
  • 11:30 a.m. – Shams Inati, professor of Arab and Islamic studies, Villanova University, on a topic to be announced.
  • 2:30 p.m. – The Rev. George Papademetriou, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, on Issues Regarding Tolerance in Interfaith Relations: An Orthodox Perspective.
  • 3:15 p.m. – Deborah Friedrich, Ph.D candidate, The University of Chicago, on Tress of Blessing: Traces of Goddess Symbolism in Pre-exile Israelite Religion.
  • 4 p.m. – Robert Sherman, professor of systematic theology, Bangor Theological Seminary, on a topic to be announced.
  • 5 p.m. – Kidder Smith, professor of Asian studies, Bowdoin College, and Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, professor of religion, Colby College, on Buddhist Atheism and the Origin of Religion.

The Oct. 26 schedule of presentations includes:

  • 9 a.m. – Frank Carner, professor of English, University of Southern Maine, on God as Literary Strategy: The Hale-Bopp Problem.
  • 10 a.m. – Brian Aull, Baha’i Community of Cambridge, on Can Religion Bring Us Together?

A workshop for teachers will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 105 of the Olin Arts Center.

The public is invited to attend, and pre-registration is recommended. A registration fee of $5 will be charged to cover the cost of all conference sessions. For those interested in attending all conference sessions, meals, and coffee breaks, as well as earning two continuing education credits, a $30 admission fee will be charged.

For more information, call the Bates College Office of Special Projects at 207-786-6070.

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