The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 25, 2002
February 25, 2002
VOL. 31, NO. 23


First 'Religious Awareness Days' To Explore Faith Traditions

By Amy Cowles

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Lectures, digital media presentations and a medieval labyrinth will mark Johns Hopkins' first religious awareness days, March 4 through 13. The 10-day celebration, "Open Hands, Open Hearts: Exploring Diverse Faith Traditions," aims to explore various faiths while examining issues facing modern religious communities.

"Open Hands, Open Hearts" is a collaborative effort between the Homewood campus's Interfaith Council and Campus Ministries, as well as student representatives from a variety of Hopkins faith-based organizations.

Sarah Berkson, founder of the 10-day 'Open Hands, Open Hearts' celebration; Sharon Kugler, university chaplain and director of the Interfaith Center; and Arash Mostaghimi, an event organizer.

"The very notion of setting aside a few days to publicly discuss matters of faith was one that excited the Interfaith Council before Sept. 11, " says Sharon Kugler, university chaplain and director of the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center. "After Sept. 11, it fueled their souls. It has never been more important to look at ourselves and others with an eye toward deepening our mutual understanding. It has never been more critical for religious communities to refocus on cooperation and invite others to do the same."

To commemorate the six months that will have passed since Sept. 11, a meditative labyrinth will be installed in Levering's Glass Pavilion for the day of March 11. Walking the winding path is meant to inspire reflection and contemplation.

"'Open Hands, Open Hearts' is an invitation to listen with an open mind, not just with your ears but also with your eyes, with your feet, with your hands and with your heart," says sophomore Sarah Berkson, founder and coordinator of the program. "I hope that these events may encourage us to go deeper into our own questions and journey hand-in-hand with other wanderers from different paths. I hope and believe that this is how we start the work of recovery from a long history of past abuses and develop a context for building peace."

Following is a list of events open to the Johns Hopkins community. All events are free unless noted. For more information, call the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center at 410-261-1880, e-mail or go to

Open Hands, Open Hearts

Monday, March 4
8 p.m., 3 Shaffer Hall
Student Digital Media Presentation

In December 2001, Johns Hopkins students were provided grants to create digital media projects exploring questions of religion and spirituality, such as meditation practices and their benefits and freedom of opinion in the Islamic faith. The artists will discuss the realization of their artistic visions.

Tuesday, March 5
7 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Rabbi Shira L. Lander: "What Makes a Sacred Space Sacred?"

A former Homewood campus rabbi, Shira L. Lander is a dissertation fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and teaches at the University of Maryland and the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary's Seminary, where she received the Dunning Distinguished Lectureship Award. From 1990 to 1994, Lander worked at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore.

Wednesday, March 6
8 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Campus Ministers Panel Discussion: "Peace-Making in Different Religious Traditions"

Can different religious traditions, each claiming to be the true faith, come together and work toward a greater peace? How do various faiths make peace with one another? Ministers from the Homewood campus will address these and other questions in an open panel discussion.

Thursday, March 7
12:30 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Luncheon: Meet the Interfaith Council

Faculty and staff are invited to meet Chaplain Kugler and the Interfaith Council, a group of student representatives from different faith perspectives sharing a common vision: to work toward establishing a cooperative community spirit among religious groups and to dispel myths and misunderstandings that others may hold about the various religions, faiths and belief systems. Kosher lunch will be provided.

Thursday, March 7
6 p.m., Student Recreation Center
(J-Card required)
Mind-body Workshop

Tsang Fan will lead a workshop on T'ai Chi Chuan, a traditional Chinese form of mind-body-spirit practice. Fan began studying T'ai Chi 20 years ago in Chen Jiagou, Henan, China, and has taught privately in Japan for more than 10 years.

Friday, March 8
5:45 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Shabbat Dinner

JHU Hillel, Campus Ministries and the dean of student life sponsor a traditional Shabbat dinner, with kosher Chinese food.

Friday, March 8
7 p.m., Glass Pavilion
Muslim Student Association Banquet

The Muslim Student Association's annual banquet marks Eid-ul-fitr, the celebration after the month of Ramadan, and also Eid-ul-Adha, which commemorates the pilgrimage season. Speaking will be Salam Al-Marayati, director and a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Al-Marayati has written extensively on Islam, human rights, democracy, Middle East politics, the Balkan crisis and the Transcaucus conflict. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Wolman Hall and Terrace Cafe. Chinese and Iranian food served.

Saturday, March 9
Time TBA, meet at Levering
Circle K Day of Service

Circle K, an international organization of college students with a lifelong commitment to community service will sponsor a day of service in the Baltimore community. Transportation will be provided.

Saturday, March 9
8 p.m., Mudd Auditorium
Princess Mononoke screening and discussion

Drawing from Japanese folklore, this acclaimed animated film features the voices of actors Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver and Claire Danes. Discussion of the film and earth-centered religion to follow.

Sunday, March 10
5 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Sandwich Sunday

Join the Johns Hopkins communities of faith as they make lunches to assist the Maryland Community Resource Center in its effort to fight hunger among low-income people living with HIV and AIDS. Volunteers for Monday-morning delivery are also welcome.

Sunday, March 10
6 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Multicultural Women's Seder

All women are invited to participate in this unique seder in which participants will discuss their experiences as women, as people of faith and the relationship between these two identities. Men are welcome.

Monday, March 11
9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Glass Pavilion
The Labyrinth: A Walking Meditation

The labyrinth--first constructed in ancient Greece and later passed from culture to culture--has long stood as a metaphor for life's journey, combining the senses of unity and purposeful wandering into a complicated and beautiful symbol.

Tuesday, March 12
7 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Andrew Newberg: "Why God Won't Go Away"

In this age of science and of rigorous rationality, why do people still believe in God? Andrew Newberg, director of clinical nuclear medicine, director of NeuroPET Research and assistant professor of radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, will give his perspective on the relationship between faith and psychology.

Wednesday, March 13
7 p.m., Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center
Buddhist Service

"Open Hands, Open Hearts" will conclude with an introduction to Buddhist meditation and a short service called the Heart Sutra, led by Hoji Scott, minister of the Johns Hopkins University Buddhist Society.