by Deb Christian
CHICAGO (RCCongress 2010), April 9 — Pluralism: more than one of something; diverse; opposite of a single approach or method.
"Pluralism begins with difference. Real religious pluralism means our engagement with one another requires building sturdy relationships," said Diana Eck, developer and director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, in a Friday keynote address to participants in Religion Communication Congress 2010.
Noting the challenges faced in the United States with its complex religious landscape, Dr. Eck noted that, "religious faith is a powerful force in people's lives and choices. We must find new ways to spread the message of hope through new communication venues in our world."
The Pluralism Project tries to bring changing views on religion into the open. "Who are 'we the people...' now," she asked. "This is a new world of encounter for many Americans."
"We are not all the same. Pluralism begins there. Trying to understand these differences is a great human challenge," Dr. Eck said. "The world is changed with faith practices of those we know little about. How do we deal with religious differences?"
Noting that diversity is a fact in our world and that borders are often only dotted lines on a map, she reminded the audience that in our electronically connected world, no one really speaks in private. Consider the results of a Danish cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed or the angry speech of an Egyptian Imam that fuels fears in Israeli and American Jews. "We are linked and interdependent."
Photo by George Conklin
"Pluralism is more than differences, more than tolerance. It requires we know something of others. It is based on relationships." The Pluralism Project tries to bring changing views into the open.
Dr. Eck summed up the presentation. "Religious identity touches all parts of life.
Join us to learn and interpret. The Pluralism Project is the work of all us. Pluralism is energetic engagement, active seeking and based on dialogue. We must ask ourselves what human capital do we need to bridge our differences."
The Pluralism Project was developed to study and document the growing religious diversity in the United States. Dr. Eck also is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society at Harvard.
RCCongress 2010 is the once-a-decade gathering of communications professionals from different from different faiths, different countries, and different areas of faith. More than 500 participants in this decade's event explored the theme "Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today's World."
Deb Christian, a member of the communications committee for RCCongress 2010, is customer care director for the United Methodist Reporter
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