"When I first visited CSWR in April 2015, I was invaded by its peaceful presence. Looking around me to find the source or the hidden traces of this serenity, I thought I was doing the wrong thing—which is looking. I should be hearing, listening. Listening to the water stream of the small fountain in the community garden. I thought that the peacefulness of this place is embodied in its acoustic environment as much as it is embedded in the interior architecture of the building and carried by the traces of the people who lived here before. I compare the sounds that surround us to the Read more about CSWR SoundEscapes
On April 5th, ThD student and CSWR resident, Munjed M. Murad, delivered a presentation on the findings of his research at Harvard as they pertain to the topic of beauty and religion. A summary of which follows:
This lecture explored the concept of beauty as discussed in teachings of Islamic metaphysics in particular and exemplified by a variety of religions in general. It addressed notions of the objectivity of beauty as a necessary quality of the Divine, and particular aspects of the manifold manifestations of beauty in the world. Examples ranged from the beauty of virtue Read more about On Beauty
On March 29th, CSWR resident Nariman Aavani presented his work on self-identity in the poetry of Rumi. A summary of his talk can be found below.
As human beings who live in the modern world, our identity is defined to a great extent through the particular roles that we play in society and the external tags that the socio-political context of our lived-experience places on us. In this way one is called a doctor, a student, a professor, mother, sister, American, Iranian, Muslim, etc. However, for Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (d. 1273), a great Persian Sufi master, this type of Read more about Self-Identity and the Divine in Rumi
On March 8th, Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) resident and MDiv candidate at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), Melissa Lago, gave a presentation entitled, “Embodied Practices and Poetry.” She began by sharing what led her to her interest in embodied practices and poetry and how her courses at HDS have supported her research. Then she invited residents to participate in a guided yoga practice accompanied by music, which was followed by reading, reflecting on, and discussing the poem Traveling Companions, by Rumi.
On March 1st, CSWR resident Nina Bryce led a workshop entitled “Peace in Myself, Peace in the World.” Nina began by framing this workshop within her work in the field of youth development and within her studies at HDS. Having been a full time youth worker before starting the MDiv at HDS last fall, Nina is interested in the meeting place of spiritual practice and social change and has found youth work with teenagers to be an area ripe with possibility for this work. Since being at HDS, she has been reflecting on lessons from working with young people considering how to live those Read more about Peace in Myself, Peace in the World
On February 22nd, CSWR resident Soltan Bryce gave an autobiographical presentation titled “An Autoethnographic Case Study in Intersectional Identities.” Soltan framed his talk by tying his lived experience as part of the CSWR community to the Center’s founding principles and mission. By exploring his own intersectional history, Soltan contributed to a shared understanding of contemporary faith identities and the complex role that religion plays in modern societal structures. Further, Soltan’s presentation aimed to foster community life and intellectual exchange among the residents using Read more about A Case Study in Intersectional Identities: Autoethnography of Soltan Bryce
On February 8th, CSWR resident Danny Kraft gave a presentation titled “Life, Death, and Spiritual Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto.” Danny framed his talk with an introduction to scholarly and popular perceptions about Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. For many decades, the prevailing assumption was that Jews did not resist their persecution, and that any instances of resistance, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, must be seen as exceptional.
On February 1, CSWR resident Rob MacSwain presented on his sabbatical research project dealing with the idea of saints as evidence for God. He began by introducing the traditional tendency of Western Christian philosophy and theology to offer arguments for the existence of God and summarized the classic arguments. Rob then showed that, although the claim is rarely encountered in standard discussions, several prominent figures have argued that exemplary human lives motivated by religious belief (“saints”) provide evidence for the existence of God, and indeed perhaps even the best evidence. Read more about The Hagiological Argument for the Existence of God