This past weekend, the world marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Beginning that fateful day in 2001, says Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religions at McGill University, “the very concept of religion underwent a paradigm shift for many of us. Instead of standing for virtue and piety, and peace and harmony, the word religion was launched on a semantic trajectory which would make it a byword for evil, aggression and terror.”
Sharma is the convenor of the third edition of the Global Conference on World’s Religions after September 11, which will be held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal on Thursday, Sept. 15. (The conference is held every five years.) The third conference’s theme is “From Faith to Interfaith.”
Tickets are available online. There is a discounted rate for students and seniors.
“Its aim is to bring together the various religions of the world in an ecumenical spirit to address the many issues facing the world today,” says Sharma of the conference, “and adopt a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the hope that this will help all of us become better human beings.”
The keynote speakers will be:
- Karen Armstrong, historian and author of the bestseller A History of God. She received an honorary doctorate at McGill’s 2014 spring convocation.
- Gregory Baum, McGill Professor Emeritus of Theology Ethics, who served as theological advisor during the Second Vatican Council .
- Deepak Chopra, world-renowned speaker and bestselling author in the field of mind-body healing.
- Harvey Cox, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Harvard University. He is the author of the bestseller The Secular City. His new book is The Market as God.
- Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada (1997-2009) and President of Ishkonigan.
- Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, whose work focuses on Christian-Jewish interactions in nineteenth and twentieth century Germany. She has also edited and translated many works by her late father, Abraham Joshua Heschel.
- Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, specialist in contemporary Muslim societies and author of Muslims and the Making of America.
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, one of the world’s biggest NGOs, which is active in more than 150 countries.
- Manjit Singh, Sikh chaplain at McGill, he specializes in medieval Indian history, a period which saw the birth of Sikhism.
- Charles Taylor, McGill Professor Emeritus of Philosophy. He is the author of A Secular Age and co-chaired the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in Quebec.
To celebrate the unveiling of the Universal Declaration, there will be an evening performance of sacred dance and music from different religious traditions of the world.