By Susan Powell
Spirituality and faith are deeply personal. However, as we all walk our individual paths, knowing how others practice their faith can help us deepen our understanding of our own belief system. This knowledge can also help us nurture our compassion and understanding towards those who hold different belief systems. In April, Adult Education will devote four Sundays to diverse speakers who will help us better understand the similarities and differences between worldwide religions.
We will start this series on Sunday April 8 with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who will discuss Developing a Community of Believers. Imam Feisal will lead a discussion on Islam’s connections with the other Abrahamic Faith traditions and the significance of being a part of a believing community. Imam Feisal is the founder and president of Cordoba House, which has a purpose to establish a compassionate forward thinking and pluralistic American Muslim identity. Born of Egyptian parentage and educated in England, Egypt, and Malaysia, Imam Feisal holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Columbia University in New York and a Master of Science in Plasma Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. As former Imam of Masjid al-Farah he preaches a message of understanding between people of all faith traditions.
On Sunday April 15, Sunita Viswanath will speak to Sadhana: Building a Progressive Hinduism. Sunita has been a lifelong activist for women’s rights. She is a co-founder of Women for Afghan Women, the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan. She is also a co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, an all-volunteer organization striving to connect present day Hinduism to social justice in our communities and world. Sunita will share the basic tenets of Hinduism, how she sees the heart of those tenets rooted in love, justice and oneness of all, and how her organization Sadhana is working to build a platform and movement of Hindus devoted to peace and pluralism.
On Sunday April 22, Dr. Christopher Kelley will lead The Buddha’s Revolution: The Ideas and Practices of Buddhism. Dr. Kelley will present the basic beliefs and practices of Buddhism. He will include an explanation of “The Four Noble Truths”, the foundation of Buddhism, and why these truths are so frequently misunderstood in the western world. He will also discuss his personal journey, converting to Buddhism after having been raised and confirmed as a Presbyterian, and why becoming a Buddhist enabled him to achieve a newfound appreciation for Christianity. Dr. Kelley received his PhD in Religion from Columbia University where he studied Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. He currently teaches at Eugene College at The New School University.
We will conclude this series Sunday April 29 with Dr. Jerusha Lamptey leading Effective Interreligious Engagement. Dr. Lamptey will explore effective strategies for engaging with and among diverse religious communities. She will highlight the importance of ‘incomplete’ knowledge, sustained relationships, and reflections on power and privilege. Dr. Lamptey is an Assistant Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary. She also serves as the Director of Union’s Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program. Dr. Lamptey has a B.A. from The American University, an M.A. from the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Studies, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University.