Dialogue Institute Represented at Annual AAR Conference

The Dialogue Institute (DI)/Journal of Ecumenical Studies (JES) presented new books and papers at this year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Conference, held on November 22-25, 2014 in San Diego, CA. A themed DI exhibit display also offered conference attendees the opportunity to network with DI staff members, learn about how the DI is actively engaged in interreligious and intercultural affairs both stateside and abroad, and purchase a wide array of books penned by DI Founder and President Dr. Leonard Swidler as well as two edited by the Institute’s director, Rebecca Kratz Mays.

DI Executive Director Rebecca Kratz Mays presented a paper to the Quaker Theological Studies Group centered on the theme “Pushing Boundaries: Mystics as Expansive Religionists” titled “Becoming Broader: Risking Boundaries as Taking Religion Seriously,” Dr. Leonard Swidler presented a paper to an Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Group centered on the theme “Dialogue Among Three Strands of Dialogue Researchers” titled “Perspectives on Interreligious Dialogue and Theology: Parallel Constructions of Dialogue.”

The DI was proud to showcase its work at the conference, the largest gathering of the year in the fields of religious studies and theology. Professors, students, authors, publishers, religious leaders and interested laypersons gathered together to participate in academic sessions, receptions, tours and workshops. An estimated 10,000 attendees participated in the event.  

An enhanced DI presence at the conference was of significant importance this year, as the DI/JEScelebrates its 50th anniversary and the recent release of two publications highlighting Dr. Leonard Swidler and his more than 60 years of work in the field of interreligious and intercultural studies. The first publication is a biography penned by River Adams entitled “There Must Be YOU: Leonard Swidler’s Journey to Faith and Dialogue,” which details Dr. Swidler’s history and storied career. The second, penned by Dr. Swidler himself, is a collection of his most poignant insights on interreligious dialogue and is titled “Dialogue for Interreligious Understanding: Strategies for the Transformation of Culture Shaping.”

“The annual AAR conference provides a key venue through which to network and engage with a selection of our constituency that are actively involved in the fields of religious study and theology. A new section at AAR focused on interfaith work is making great strides in advancing the important role of interreligious dialogue in today’s world,” reflects Rebecca Mays. “We look forward to following up with them and others at the conference so that we may together collaborate in those projects that foster respect for religious diversity.”

About the Dialogue Institute/Journal of Ecumenical Studies:  The Dialogue Institute (DI) teaches religious, civic, and academic leaders the skills of respectful dialogue and critical thinking, empowering them to build and sustain transformative relationships across lines of religion and culture.  It provides resources and creates networks for intra-and inter-religious scholarship and action that value difference and foster human dignity. Established in 1964, the peer-reviewed Journal of Ecumenical Studies (JES) advances critical awareness of the latest directions in ecumenical and interreligious research.