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A Brief History of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions

This brief history is reprinted from the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology edited by William Wildman. This excerpt is the opening section of an entry that also surveys the themes of the Parliament and its legacy. You will find a bibliography there and footnotes for the various quotations.

A Dream That Is Contagious

Once after a lecture on the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, I was asked by a sleepy student, ‘Were you there yourself?’ No one, I assume, who was at the 1993 Parliament of World Religions (note the slight change of name) had been in Chicago, a hundred years before. Yet because of its continuing influence, it is worthwhile to glance back to the pioneers of the interfaith pilgrimage. I can remember my own excitement when, looking in the library for another book, I chanced on Barrows’ two volume record of that historic event.