Week Five — July 21–27
The Pursuit of Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy – the elusive state that sociology, biology, neurology, psychology, philosophy, history, and world religions all define uniquely. The goal of every religion is to help seekers everywhere learn to cultivate true and lasting happiness within themselves. In this week, practitioners from several of the world’s religions will offer understandings of happiness, representing the wisdom of the ages, which inform their lived traditions and make life worth living.
Monday, July 22
Hunter R. Rawlings III
president, American Association of Universities
former president, Cornell University
Hunter R. Rawlings III became president of the Association of the American Universities on June 1, 2011. Prior to this position, Rawlings served as president of Cornell University from 1995 to 2003, and as interim president for one year between 2005 and 2006. He served as president of the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1995.
At the conclusion of his presidency in 2003, Rawlings was elected president emeritus and began serving as a full-time professor in Cornell’s departments of Classics and History. Prior to the University of Iowa, Rawlings spent 18 years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a faculty member, chairman of the Classics Department, associate vice chancellor for instruction, and then vice president for academic affairs for the University of Colorado system.
A national spokesperson for higher education, Rawlings has served as chair of both the Association of American Universities and the Ivy Council of Presidents. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he serves on the boards of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Haverford College and the National Academy Foundation. Rawlings graduated from Haverford College, with honors in classics, and received his doctoral degree, also in classics, from Princeton University.
Thomas Jefferson character-interpreter, Colonial Williamsburg
Bill Barker has portrayed Thomas Jefferson in a variety of venues since his first appearance at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1984. He first arrived to Williamsburg in the spring of 1993 to perform as Jefferson in a film made to honor Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg. He has continued to appear as Jefferson for Colonial Williamsburg, and assists in the development of Jefferson programs for the foundation.
Barker has performed as Jefferson at the White House, the Palace of Versailles and throughout Great Britain, France and United States, with several appearances at Chautauqua. He has been featured as Jefferson in several magazines, including Time, People, The Atlantic, Philadelphia, Southern Living, Reader’s Digest and Colonial Williamsburg Journal. Barker graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Tuesday, July 23
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
adjunct professor., Rel. and Global Studies, Middle Tennessee State University
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Ph.D., an award-winning author, poet, essayist, and educator, is adjunct professor of Religion and Global Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. Author of over two dozen books on religion and spirituality, Rami also writes a regular column for Spirituality and Health magazine called “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” and blogs at www.rabbirami.blogspot.com. His most recent books are Writing, the Sacred Art (Skylight Paths), and Amazing Chesed: Living a Grace-Filled Judaism (Jewish Lights).
Wednesday, July 24
dir., Center for Study of Hindu Traditions, University of Florida
Vasudha Narayanan is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida and a past President of the American Academy of Religion (2001-2002). She was educated at the Universities of Madras and Bombay in India and at Harvard University. Her fields of interest are the Sri Vaishnava tradition; Hindu traditions in India, Cambodia, and America; visual and expressive cultures in the study of the Hindu traditions; and gender issues. She is currently working on Hindu temples and traditions in Cambodia. Dr. Narayanan and the University of Florida have created the nation’s first Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) to encourage the research, teaching, and public understanding of Hindu culture and traditions.
Professor Narayanan is the author or editor of seven books and over ninety articles, chapters in books, and encyclopedia entries. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from several organizations, including the Centre for Khmer Studies (2007); the American Council of Learned Societies (2004-2005); National Endowment for the Humanities (1987, 1989-90, and 1998-99), the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1991-92), the American Institute of Indian Studies/ Smithsonian, and the Social Science Research Council. She was the president of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies from 1996-1998. Her books include The Life of Hinduism (co-edited with John Stratton Hawley); Hinduism; The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual; The Way and the Goal: Expressions of Devotion in the Early Srivaisnava Tradition; and The Tamil Veda: Pillan's Interpretation of the Tiruvaymoli (co-authored with John Carman).
Thursday, July 25
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi
Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel N.Y.
Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk, originally from New York City, who holds a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School. In late 1972 he received monastic ordination in Sri Lanka, where he lived for over twenty years. From 1984 to 2002 he was editor for the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy. He returned to the U.S. in 2002 and now lives and teaches at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. In 2008, together with several of his students, Ven. Bodhi founded Buddhist Global Relief, a non-profit supporting hunger relief and education in countries suffering from chronic poverty and malnutrition.
Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor. These include: A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma (1993), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya, 1995), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya, 2000), In the Buddha's Words (2005), and The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya, 2012).
Friday, July 26
author on world's religion
Contemporary and historical religion’s most prolific author, Karen Armstrong is a highly sought-after lecturer around the world, called upon by governments, universities, and church and secular organizations alike to educate about the world’s religions and to inform regarding their place in the modern world. She is the author of numerous books on religious affairs, including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam: A Short History, The Great Transformation, The Bible: the Biography, The Case for God, and, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. She has also written two memoirs: Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into over fifty languages.
Karen has done much work on the world stage. She has addressed members of the US Congress on three occasions; lectured to policy makers at the US State and Defense Departments; participated in the World Economic Forum; addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and New York; served as an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations; and speaks regularly in Muslim countries, most notably in Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Indonesia. In 2007 she was awarded a medal by the Egyptian government for her services to Islam under the auspices of the prestigious Al-Azhar madrassah – the first foreigner to have been awarded this decoration. She was presented with the Four Freedoms Medal for Freedom of Worship by the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize at Tubingen University in 2009. A Trustee of the British Museum and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Literature, in 2013 she will be the inaugural recipient of the British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding.
In February 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize for her vision of a Charter for Compassion (www.charterforcompassion.org), which was crafted by leading thinkers in six of the world’s religions as a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate actiote action to the center of moral and political life, The Charter is now being implemented practically, realistically, and creatively in countries, cities, schools, and religious communities throughout the world.