19 December 2014
Arun Shourie to deliver Stanley Samartha memorial lecture
BANGALORE, India (APEN) – Mr Arun Shourie, senior journalist, author, Member of Parliament and a former federal minister of India will deliver the eighth Stanley Samartha Memorial Lecture to be held here on 26 September 2009.

Some 500 people are expected to attend the lecture by the Magsaysay Award winner Shourie on “Suffering in religions,” which is being organized by the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (BIRD), an organization founded in 2001 with the conviction that tension between religious groups can be diffused only through inter-religious dialogue.

BIRD believes that “an interchange of experiences will lead to an enrichment of one another’s religious life, mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and cooperation in tackling personal, social and national problems.”

Organizing Stanley Samartha Memorial Lecture has been one of the major activities of BIRD. It is also involved in networking with several organizations for promoting peace and communal harmony.

Reverend Dr Stanley Samartha, who passed away in 2001, was an ordained priest of the Church of South India and a well known Indian theologian, who took pride in affirming that he was "a Hindu by culture, Christian by faith, Indian by citizenship and ecumenical by choice".

Born on 7 October 1920, Dr Samartha rose from being a teacher of theology at Christian Seminaries in India to become the first Director of the Inter-Faith Dialogue Program of the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

One of Samartha’s major theological concerns was to develop a Christology in the context of religious pluralism.

Author of several books and articles on inter-faith dialogue and Christology, Samartha, who BIRD described as “Christian prophet of religious pluralism,” had affirmed God alone as absolute, and considered all religious to be relative.

In 2007, the Samartha Lecture was delivered by Justice K T Thomas, a former judge of Supreme Court of India, on the "Right to convert and the Indian constitution".

Previous lectures were on "The need for inter-religious dialogue", "Communal harmony – A societal perspective", "Religion in 21st century – A perspective of hope", "Courage for dialogue" and "Towards an ethical code of conduct for conversion". They were delivered by Mr. Francois Gautier (2001), Dr. C.T.Kurien (2003), M.V.Nadkarni (2004), Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church Rt. Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom (2005) and Dr. Hans Ucko (2006), respectively.

Mr. M.J.Akbar, the well known journalist and author, delivered the seventh Stanley Samartha Memorial Lecture in 2008. He spoke on “The power of religion vs. the religion of power”.

Mr P N Benjamin, coordinator of BIRD has solicited support of all those who are interested in inter-religious initiatives, and those friends, former colleagues and students of Samartha in India and abroad.

BIRD is supported and sustained entirely by small contributions from people of different faiths who strongly believe in the important need to preserve inter-faith amity in the true and abiding traditions of India, which is known for its religious diversity and inclusivism

Mr Benjamin can be contacted at benjaminpn@hotmail.com

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