Rabbi David J. Wolpe & Imam Jihad Turk Join CalArts Forum on "American Jihad" and New Role for Religion in the Age of Terrorism
Newsweek's #1 Rabbi in America and Director of Islamic Center Confront the Contested Nature of Jihad and Religion as a Force for Peace
March 25, 2009, Valencia, CA--On Wednesday, April 1, from 4pm-6pm, California Institute of the Arts will bring together national faith leaders, religious scholars and Iraq war veterans to explore the nature of jihad and whether religion can effectively contribute to peace when it is understood as the cause of war. Held in the Sharon Disney Lund Theater on CalArts' campus, "American Jihad: God, War & Peace in the Age of Terrorism" will begin with a panel discussion, followed by a forum-style Q&A.
The event features best-selling author Rabbi David J. Wolpe (Why Faith Matters), named Newsweek's #1 Rabbi in America; Imam Jihad Turk, Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California and co-founder of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group; Iraq war veteran Captain Alex Mack, a graduate of West Point and currently a CalArts MFA student; and Harvard Divinity School graduate Darren Frey, a consultant to non-profit relief organizations in developing countries. The moderator is CalArts interim assistant provost and faculty member Eric Gutierrez, whose students developed the idea for the forum in "American Jihad: God & War in the U.S.A," his course that examines how religious sentiments and principles are used to both incite war and build peace.
"While pop commentators like Bill Maher and New Atheists like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens mock believers and offer a selective and skewed history of religion, figures like Rabbi Wolpe and Imam Turk get beyond the invective and contempt to ask how religion might actually contribute to resolving conflict rather than inciting it," explains Gutierrez. "Having such respected national figures come to CalArts to speak with our students and community is an extraordinary opportunity to understand the contested nature of jihad and how wartime strips away convenient definitions to show us who we are and what we truly stand for."
The students in Gutierrez' class felt strongly that all students, faculty and members of the community be invited to participate in this relevant and timely dialog. "This is about more than headlines about the other side of the world," says Daniel Corrigan, BFA-2. "There are students here at CalArts who have gone to war and others who protested against it. This is about us."
California Institute of the Arts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater--CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on artmaking excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.