Taylor Symposium at IUPUI shares city’s religious diversity through performances

2015 Joseph T. Taylor Symposium Flyer

2015 Joseph T. Taylor Symposium Flyer

The practice of one’s religion isn’t limited to beliefs and sacred texts, according to contemporary religious studies scholars.

The 2015 Joseph T. Taylor Symposium at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis offers participants the opportunity to explore Indianapolis’ religious diversity through performances inherent in the practices of various religious groups.

The symposium, “Encountering Religions Through Performance,” takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.
“Much of the recent scholarship on religion has emphasized that religious traditions are not just about beliefs and texts,” said IU School of Liberal Arts professor Peter Thuesen, event co-organizer and chair of the Department of Religious Studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

“Religions are also expressed through performances. These performances may involve such activities as singing, dancing, drumming or chanting, but they can also consist of devotional rituals observed either publicly or privately,” Thuesen said.
Symposium presenters include:

  • Light of the World Gospel Ensemble
  • Mohamad Saltagi, an IU School of Medicine student who has memorized the entire Quran
  • Anil Bajpai, Hindu Temple of Central Indiana board of trustees member

In lieu of a luncheon speaker, Sancocho Music will perform and participate in a facilitated discussion. Sancocho is dedicated to researching and performing African-derived music and dance from Spanish-speaking cultures of the Caribbean.

“We’re thrilled with the lineup of speakers and performers. … And we’ve paired each guest with one of our own religious studies professors, who will serve as moderator and interviewer,” Thuesen said. “Each session will be like a mini introduction to what we study in the field of religious studies.”

The 2015 Taylor symposium is presented by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in partnership with its Department of Religious Studies. The annual event honors the late Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, for his many contributions to the university and to the greater Indianapolis community. The event highlights topics of interest to urban communities, particularly communities of color.
“Indianapolis is a city of remarkable cultural diversity, but many local residents are unfamiliar with the range of religious groups represented here,” Thuesen said. “We hope through this year’s symposium to highlight the ways performance factors into several of the religious traditions that thrive in our city. In seeking to understand other people and traditions, we build community, which was one of Dr. Taylor’s goals as an educator.”

Morning symposium sessions, held in the theater on the lower level of the Campus Center, are free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested.

The noon luncheon will take place in Campus Center Room 450. Luncheon seating is limited and requires registration and pre-payment. Luncheon tickets are $35 each, if purchased by Jan. 26, or $40 after Jan. 26. Organizations are also invited to become table patrons for the luncheon ($550 for a table of 10).

For symposium registration and additional information, visit the Taylor Symposium website.

Study: “The Bible in American Life”

UntitledThe year 2011 marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. It also marked the beginning of a three-year Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI ) study of the Bible’s place in the everyday lives of Americans.

With a $507,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture – a program of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI – set out to answer questions of how, where, when and why ordinary Americans use the Bible.

According to findings made public online in the 44-page “The Bible in American Life” report, the four-centuries-old King James Version of the Bible is far from dead. Despite its archaic language and a market flooded with newer, more modern English translations, more than half of the individuals and two-fifths of the congregations surveyed still prefer the King James Bible.

And of those surveyed, African Americans reported the highest levels of Bible engagement.

Seventy percent of all blacks said they read the Bible outside of public worship services, compared to 44 percent for whites, 46 percent for Hispanics and 28 percent for all other races.

Bible memorization is highest among black respondents, 69 percent, compared to 51 percent among white conservative Protestants and 31 percent among white moderate/liberal Protestants.

“There are no measures, individually or in congregations, where ‘black’ is not strongly correlated with the most conservative, most active, most involved level of scriptural engagement, no matter which other group comes closest,” the report says.

“If one wanted to predict whether someone had read the Bible, believed it to be the literal or inspired Word of God, and used it to learn about many practical aspects of life, knowing whether or not that person was black is the single best piece of information one could have.”

The report first looks at the practice of scripture reading in the United States, and then explores eight measures among those who read the Bible, such as Bible translation used; scripture memorization habits; favorite passages; and race.

Roughly half of Americans have read religious scripture outside of a public worship service in the past year. For 95 percent of those, the Bible is the scripture they read.

What did the study reveal about Bible readers?

Most of those people read at least monthly, and a substantial number – 9 percent of all Americans – read every day.

Women were more likely to read than men; older people were more likely to read than younger; Southerners were more likely to read than those of any other region.

The percentage of verse memorizers among Bible readers (48 percent) equates to roughly a fourth of the American population as a whole, or nearly 80 million people.

Psalm 23 – which begins “The Lord is my shepherd” – was the most popular Biblical passage.

Younger people, those with higher salaries and, most dramatically, those with more education among the respondents read the Bible on the internet or an e-device at higher rates.

The written report, based on survey questions on both the General Social Survey (1,551 individuals) and the National Congregations Study III (denominations represented among the General Social Survey respondents), is the first stage of the study and offers sociological data about the role of the Bible.

“Historians and sociologists have been working for years to understand how religion is lived out on a daily level,” said Philip Goff, executive director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and one of the three principal investigators who led the study. “This gives us a good snapshot of the practice of Bible reading. That should also help ministers understand the people in their pews.”

Goff’s co-investigators are Arthur Farnsley, associate director of the center; and Peter Thuesen, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at IUPUI.

full article found here