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TIO at the American Academy of Religions

A TIO Editorial

Those attending TIO’s breakfast included (from the left) Gary Gach, Beth Katz, Katerina Ragoussi, Bud Heckman, Girish Shah, Paul Chaffee, Rachael Watcher, Imam Khaled Hamoui, our host, Greg Harder, Thomas Bonnaci, Vanessa Gomez, and Or Rose. Not pictured: David Brockman and Jan Chaffee.

Those attending TIO’s breakfast included (from the left) Gary Gach, Beth Katz, Katerina Ragoussi, Bud Heckman, Girish Shah, Paul Chaffee, Rachael Watcher, Imam Khaled Hamoui, our host, Greg Harder, Thomas Bonnaci, Vanessa Gomez, and Or Rose. Not pictured: David Brockman and Jan Chaffee.

For anyone interested in religion, the American Academy of Religion annual meetings are an embarrassment of riches. What was new in San Francisco this year as 10,000 scholars, students, publishers, and advocates gathered was the unprecedented presence of interfaith studies. Professor Diana Eck from Harvard’s Pluralism Project, who served as president of AAR 2005-06, helped legitimize interreligious studies academically. Five years later the progress is encouraging for anyone interested in bridge-building among religious, spiritual traditions. Interfaith workshops, panels, and receptions punctuated the all four days of meetings last month.

The morning the convention opened, a dozen TIO contributors and friends shared an early morning breakfast at the Islamic Society of San Francisco mosque, three blocks from the AAR hotels. At least ten other members of TIO’s ‘braintrust’ were organizing their own programs and had to send best wishes. Those able to attend got to know each other and talked about building and developing TIO.

The Coexist Foundation, dedicated to building action-oriented programs promoting interreligious understanding and collaboration, invited representatives from 20 imaginative academic and nonprofit interfaith projects, including TIO, to briefly introduce their work. The discussion which followed emphasized how far the interfaith movement has come in academia in the public: and how very much remains to be done. TIO was well received. A dozen story ideas for future issues percolated up from the dialogue and new connections were made with leaders doing cutting-edge interfaith work, in the US and abroad.