Center for Religious Understanding to offer Interfaith Forum on rituals

November 18, 2014 | Events, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Lindsay Mahaney

Students looking for an opportunity to explore other religions and share insight into their own are invited to join in food and discussion this week.

The UT Center for Religious Understanding is hosting an Interfaith Forum Thursday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. in University Hall Room 4700. The free, public event will serve finger-food snacks.

The forum will focus on rituals: what you do with your beliefs and which religious practices you partake in.

“People will gain an understanding from the inside about perspectives on religions different from their own,” said Dr. Jeanine Diller, director of UT’s Center for Religious Understanding. “In our courses on religion and many of our lectures, we learn a lot of stimulating facts and thoughts about the world’s religions and the whole phenomena of religion. Often this is knowledge from the outside, as it were — objective knowledge. The hope is that in our forums, people gain understanding from the inside — a subjective understanding — by hearing from someone who inhabits a view of religion what the world looks like, feels like, and is like from there.”

Diller said the program started four years ago when Dr. Ovamir Anjum, UT Imam Khattab Chair of Islamic Studies and associate professor of philosophy, told her about a similar program offered at the Lubar Institute, a program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison focused on alleviating tension between people of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths.

When asked her favorite part about the forums, Diller said it was the “aha moments” in which people find a new way of seeing things through someone else’s eyes.

“Sometimes friendships have formed between people who think differently about religion, and that is truly a lasting gift of the forums,” she said.

For more information, contact Ajay Lingireddy, an intern at the Center for Religious Understanding, at

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