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Symposium Toward Open Christianity With Congressman Maurice Hinchey & Matthew Fox

Emily M. Darrow
Other Participants Include Renowned Authors Matthew Fox, Bruce Chilton, Suzanne Guthrie, and Jeffrey J. Kripal, Among Others
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Congressman Maurice Hinchey discusses “Maintaining Religious Principles in Public Life,” during the three-day program “Toward Open Christianity: A Symposium on Christ in a Pluralistic World,” that focuses on approaches to Christian thought and practice. Congressman Hinchey speaks at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14; the symposium is being held at Bard College from Friday, April 13, through Sunday, April 15. There is no charge to attend the programs; however, preregistration is requested.
“We are particularly pleased to have Congressman Hinchey join the program of this symposium, which focuses on the theme of openness. We hope to invite a level of inquiry that reaches beyond that of beliefs, and disagreements about them, into the forms that belief takes, in order to explore not only what Christians believe, but how they believe,” explains organizer Father Paul Murray. “This is a time of particular urgency for this discussion, as organized, conservative Christianity makes its presence felt at every level of ecclesial and political life, both nationally and internationally. It will require the collaboration of academics, pastors, and activists, if the visions and concerns of alternative perspectives are to be heard and which this symposium seeks to address.”
Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey is a progressive Democrat, representing New York’s 22nd Congressional District, which spans eight counties from the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes region. Now serving in his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hinchey is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which allocates funds in the federal budget. On that panel, he serves on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and the Subcommittee on Financial Services. Hinchey is also a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Additionally, the congressman is one of only 20 members on the bicameral Joint Economic Committee. The congressman also serves on the board of visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Prior to coming to Congress in January 1993, Hinchey served 18 years in the New York State Assembly, including 14 years as chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation. 
Keynote speaker Matthew Fox “might well be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America. He has the scholarship, the imagination, the courage, the writing skill to fulfill this role at a time when the more official Christian theological traditions are having difficulty in establishing any vital contact with either the spiritual possibilities of the present or with their own most creative spiritual traditions of the past,” writes Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work, in a review of Fox’s book One River, Many Wells. Fox is the founding president of the University of Creation Spirituality, and president and founder of Friends of Creation Spirituality. He is the author of 28 books, including Original Blessing; The Reinvention of Work; Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet; A Spirituality Named Compassion; and his most recent, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.
During the symposium, scholarly presentations provide critical examinations of the bases for openness. Poets and artists offer imaginative perspectives. Workshops and panel discussions afford opportunities to engage the concerns of particular perspectives—gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sexualities; feminism; race; social class; the environment; political activism. Discussions also explore strategies to effectively represent open perspectives within Christian communities, as well as the broader society. Opportunities for prayer are structured into the program, to allow time and space for appropriation and integration of conference perspectives at the level of spirit.
To register and for further information, call 845-758-7438, e-mail, or visit (Conference facilities are handicapped accessible.)

About the Participants: Sidney Callahan is an author, scholar, and licensed psychologist. Paul E. Capetz is associate professor of historical theology, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and visiting associate professor of religious studies at Macalester College. Bruce D. Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion, executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology, and Chaplain of Bard College, is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism whose books include Rabbi Jesus, Rabbi Paul, and Mary Magdalene: A Biography, as well as the first critical translation of the Aramaic version of Isaiah, The Isaiah Targum. Brenda deMartine is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. Christine E. Gudorf is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies of Florida International University. Suzanne Guthrie, Episcopal Chaplain at Cornell University, is the author of Praying the Hours and Grace’s Window: Entering the Seasons of Prayer and has been a columnist for Christian Century and Episcopal Life. Scott Holland is associate professor of theology and culture and director of peace studies at Bethany Theological Seminary (in partnership with the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana), a contributing editor for CrossCurrents journal, and lead minister of Monroeville Church in Pittsburgh. William E. Hood is the Mildred C. Jay Professor of Art History at Oberlin College. Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, is the author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion; The Serpent’s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion; Roads of Excess; Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism; and Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna. Stephen McDonnell is a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington, D.C. Paul Murray, Catholic chaplain and visiting assistant professor of religion at Bard College, is the author of the forthcoming, Life in Paradox: The Story of a Gay Catholic Priest (O-Books, 2009), “A Cultural Reading of Literature on the Catholic Church in the South” in The Culture of Bible Belt Catholics, “The “International Outlook’” in The Place of the Person in Social Life, and articles, interviews, and book reviews in Anthropos; Technology and Disability; National Catholic Reporter; Charities, U.S.A.; The Washington Blade, and others; E. Mark Stern, fellow of the American Psychological Association and fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, is professor emeritus of the Graduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Iona College, and sometime adjunct faculty of Fordham University, Seton Hall University, and visiting professor of Catholic University of Australia (St. Mary’s campus, Strathfield).
Paul E. Murray (Catholic Chaplain and visiting assistant professor of religion, Bard College) directed the organization of the symposium, with committee members Bruce D. Chilton (Chaplain of the College and Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Bard College); Nancy S. Leonard (professor of literature, Bard College); and Jacob Neusner (Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism, Bard College). Partial support for “Open Christianity” comes from the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The symposium is sponsored by the Religion and Theology Programs, the Chaplaincy, and Bard College.

“Toward Open Christianity: A Symposium on Christ in a Pluralistic World” April 13–15, 2007 Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Friday, April 13
7:00 p.m.  Session I. Keynote Address by Matthew Fox Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
Saturday, April 14
8:15 a.m. Creative Openings I: Opening the Day Suzanne Guthrie Location: Chapel of the Holy Innocents
9:00 a.m. Session II. Historical Perspectives Christianity’s Road Not Taken: James, the Brother of Jesus, and the Christian Judaism of the Early Centuries, Bruce D. Chilton What Has the Enlightenment to Do with the Reformation? Religion as Revealed, as Rational, and as Historical, Paul E. Capetz Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
10:00 a.m. Creative Openings II: Mandala Making Stephen McDonnell Location: Chapel of the Holy Innocents
11:30 a.m. Lunch [To be organized in groups of participants with similar areas of shared interest (e.g., religious pluralism, political activism, sexuality)
1:00 p.m. Session III. Maintaining Religious Principles in Public Life Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
3:00 p.m.Creative Openings III: Inspirational Yoga Brenda DeMartine
4:30 p.m. Session IV. “‘Open’ Christianity? Open How? How Open?” Paul E. Murray Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center

6:00 p.m.  Dinner

7:30 p.m. Session V. Homosexuality in Contemporary Christianity Homoerotic Orthodoxy and the Crisis of the Churches Jeffrey J. Kripal Homosexuality, Ideology and Science, Christine E. Gudorf Topic TK, William E. Hood Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center

Sunday, April 15
8:15 a.m. Creative Openings IV: Opening the Day Suzanne Guthrie Location: Chapel of the Holy Innocents
9:00 a.m.  Session VI. Christian Participation in Pluralistic Communities We Contain Multitudes Scott Holland Open to the Future in Faith and Unity Sidney Callahan Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
10:30 a.m. Workshop: Interfaith Ministry Roundtable discussion led by the Chaplaincy of Bard College Location: Bertelsmann Campus Center
11:00 a.m. Session VII. Concluding Session: Panel discussion with a practical focus E. Mark Stern Location: Multipurpose room, Bertelsmann Campus Center
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This event was last updated on 04-16-2007