On the morning of March 31, St. Anselm’s Abbey held its third annual symposium, this one called “Radicalization and Reconciliation in God’s Name.” Meeting in the abbey school’s Devine Theatre, the hundred participants first explored reasons why some sincere believers turn to extreme interpretations of their scriptures and traditions, sometimes even advocating violence. This question was the focus of the first part of the symposium, in which Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim panelists each spoke from the perspective of their own tradition. After a short break, the second part of the symposium dealt mainly with how all of us can best respond to the challenge that violence in the name of religion presents in the world today. The entire program was expertly moderated by Dr. Shaun Casey, who heads the Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. It was videographed by Nishant Carr, a student in our abbey school, while the audio portion was overseen by Peter Collins of the school’s staff. The symposium ended with optional attendance at midday prayer in the abbey church and a lunch provided in the school commons.
These symposia — of which the one in 2014 was titled “Just Peace” and last year’s “Faith, Migration, and Justice” — are part of St. Anselm Abbey’s ongoing intention to be a resource for persons in our metropolitan area.