For the 2021 Summer Assembly, the Interfaith Lecture Series is planned for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. EDT in the Amphitheater.

The Interfaith Lecture Series is designed to present issues that impact the lived experience of everyday life from theological, religious, spiritual, ethical, and humanitarian perspectives.  

Week One :: June 26–July 3, 2021

21st Century Religion in China: Collaboration, Competition, Confrontation?

China through the ages has given birth to religious expressions uniquely its own, while also absorbing and embracing multiple religious traditions and variations that have migrated from the Asian subcontinent and the West. In this week focusing on China, we look for its contemporary expressions of the religious impulse, or the suppression thereof.

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Week Two :: July 3–10, 2021

New Frontiers: Exploring the Future of Religion in America

Long regarded as one of the most religious countries in the world, America is showing signs of losing that distinction, as successive generations begin to claim more spirituality and less religiosity, and with greater frequency self-identifying as neither, indeed as “none of the above.” In this week we look toward what a changing religious landscape in America would look and act like.

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Week Three :: July 10–17, 2021

The Ethical Foundations of a Fully Functioning Society

Socrates and his student Plato entered the discourse on ethics by way of a question that became central in Greek thought and is still relevant today: What is the relation between virtue, excellence of character, and personal and societal happiness? For the flourishing of a society, the Greek philosophers believed in reverence and justice, as well as the objectivity of goodness, as the links for knowing what is good and doing it. In this week we will discern the ethical foundations of a fully functioning society.

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Week Four :: July 17–24, 2021

The Evolving Religious Narrative of America

The national narrative that we extoll is that America was founded on ethical principles born out of religious freedom and fervor, with the moral imperative of justice for all – but how accurate is this narrative? How has this self-image been lived out historically? Does it accommodate our multifaith evolution, and the myriad expressions of world faith traditions that we now comprise? What does this narrative not reveal? In this week we explore the evolving American religious narrative and identity.

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Week Five :: July 24–31, 2021

The Authentic Comedic Voice: Truth Born of Struggle

What we expect from the Art of Comedy is something silly, foolish, witty, or an unexpected twist or deviation from expected reality. It has been posited, however, that authentic comedic articulation, while producing laughter and hilarity, frequently arises out of struggle, out of pathos and the need to speak truth. “We laugh because it’s funny; we laugh – or cry – because it’s true.” In this week we invite the voices of the healers who make us laugh.

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Week Six :: July 31–August 7, 2021

Building a Culture of Empathy

In recent years, a trait frequently cited as essential to the flourishing of humankind is empathy, an impulse manifested in all the world’s religions. Connected with compassion and altruism, it arises out of a willingness to care, to endeavor to understand, and to place oneself within the human experiences of others. In this week we seek voices who are inspiring and motivating this capacity in others.

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Week Seven ::August 7–14, 2021

Creating an Economy that Works for All

A society failing to uphold justice for all is not a just society. A just society supports health care, work opportunity and wage justice, and bridges the divides that create life-diminishing inequalities in education and access to essential services. It bridges wealth gaps and promotes the opportunity to thrive for all. How do religion and ethical humanism make demands upon economic policy, and what difference does this make?

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Week Eight :: August 14–21, 2021

The Human Soul: Our Ineffable Mystery

Most people sense and recognize another dimension beyond the physical plane of our existence and call the personal inner reality that this dimension connotes the human “soul,” known also as the “Spirit” or “Life Force.” Recognition of this inner reality is the basis of most religions but remains difficult to define or explain. In this week we will hear various interpretations of this ineffable human experience.

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Week Nine :: August 21–29, 2021


What drives people to keep going over time when forces outside their control work against them, and what does that tell us about our humanity and hope for the future? We close our 2021 season looking at the resilience that emerged during a tumultuous 2020. From a global pandemic to the quest for racial equality, we reflect on a revealing, historic period by lifting up the religious people and stories who refused to give up, give in, or go away.

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