New program to tackle race and religion

first_imgThis semester, USC students have the opportunity to attend a variety of events dealing with themes of race and religion in society from the perspective of three major religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.Photo courtesy of USC LibrariesA religious experience · (From left) Amir Hussain, Pim Valkenberg and Reuven Firestone are the three participants in the new program.The Race, Faith and Violence program, a collaboration between the USC Caruso Catholic Center and the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, features panels of three scholars-in-residence from different faiths — Amir Hussain, Reuven Firestone, and Pim Valkenberg — having conversations about issues such as race, gender, sexuality and interfaith violence.The program was born out of an interest to address topics that are often considered taboo, but are at the center of current political discourse. The program is the brainchild of Father Jim Heft, the head of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. Heft also had the idea to have  scholars-in-residence specifically available for students in order to engage in these difficult conversations during official events, at weekly office hours and scripture readings.Professor Amir Hussain is one of the three scholars-in-residence this semester. Hussain is a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University and an editor for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. He’s recently released a book about how American Muslims have become interwoven into American life and culture, titled Muslims and the Making of America. His work has focused on how different faiths can work together and has explored interfaith relationships, which made him one of the first people that Father Heft thought of when creating the program.“I think the opportunity to connect with people is great,” Hussain said, referring to what attracted him to the Race, Faith, and Violence program.Hussain emphasized the value of having multiple viewpoints at each of these events, and the successes they’ve had in diversity of speakers as well as the topics they’ve been able to cover. He credits much of this to the resources of the University and the help from the Caruso Center as well as the Institute.Pim Valkenberg is the second scholar-in-residence. He’s a professor of religion and culture in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and has authored multiple books. He’s previously worked at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies through its “Learned Ignorance” series. Valkenberg specializes in partnerships between the Christian and Muslim faiths based on their shared Abrahamic heritage.Valkenberg agreed with Hussain on the benefits of this program. He said that the greatest advantage is having all day to work together with colleagues and students in small settings and the ability to learn from one another.However, Valkenberg also pointed out some of the difficulties of the program.“It’s really hard to advertise it in such a way that students think, ‘Whoa, this is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ which I really do think it is, but it’s kind of hard to find a language in letting students know about it,” Valkenberg said.Rev. Reuven Firestone, also a scholar-in-residence, is a USC professor in the School of Religion and the Middle East Studies Center, as well as the Regenstein professor in medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College. He’s also written a number of books, has worked on numerous projects to promote interfaith understanding and worked to bring together different faiths, especially in the Middle East.To Hussain, this program is especially significant in today’s troubled political times, when people are struggling to see beyond the hateful political rhetoric of our presidential candidates.“What’s more topical than race, faith and violence in the age of Black Lives Matter, in the age of Islamophobia and the [2016] election? It’s really relevant for students today,” Hussain said.Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Professor Amir Hussain’s book was called “Islam and the Building of America.” It is called “Muslims and the Making of America.”last_img read more

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Despite Band Festival being cancelled, “Band Festival Spirit Week” will take place

first_img== On Friday afternoon at noon, the winners of NIACC’s Extreme Makeover will be announced live on Facebook == Tomorrow between 2:00 and 4:00 PM, you can drive past the Commerce Center on the east side of Central Park and be part of the “Reverse Band Festival Parade”. Organizers who will be wearing gloves and face masks will throw pre-packaged candy to you in your car as you go by (see the map at the bottom of this page) == On Saturday at 10:00 AM, a special feature will be made on the Band Festival Facebook page in honor of the annual celebration.  == Tonight at 7:00 PM on the Band Festival Facebook page, there will be a live performance by “Brad+Kate”, who were originally scheduled to perform at this year’s festival  MASON CITY — The North Iowa Band Festival in Mason City would have been starting tomorrow, but organizers cancelled the event due to the pandemic. It’s the first time since World War II that the event has not been held. Band Festival organizer Kativa Weitzel says it was a heart-breaking decision that had to be made.   “We just knew it was what’s best for our community and our social responsibility. It’s a tradition that won’t die, and in years to come, we will still have a festival. It was really sad to do.” Weitzel says many people have reached out to Band Festival organizers to express their support of the decision to cancel this year’s event.   “It’s very bittersweet this year going into Band Festival week with no parade, and 76 Trombones on Saturday, and the history behind it. We’ve had so many people reach out to us and saying how much this tradition means to their family, and how next year it’s going to be so sweet having a festival that got postponed. It’s something that will go down in history. It really impacts our community members and the students. I remember going to the parade as a kid and seeing my friends march, and all those things, and all of our grandparents were in it. It’s just a tradition that can’t be brought down.” Weitzel says there are several events that are being incorporated into what’s being called “Band Festival Spirit Week”: == On Friday night at 8:15, “Betty & the Gents” will perform on the Band Festival Facebook page Click here to take you to the North Iowa Band Festival Facebook pagelast_img read more

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