This country has been shaped by religion in multifaceted ways. While many people find a sense of belonging in congregations, religious institutions have also caused harm. The spiritual landscape of the United States is diverse and, at times, messy and contradictory. Yet people continue to seek community, inspiration, and healing in old and new ways.
Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S. explored the abundant creativity that emerges from spiritual and religious experiences. The program centered stories and lived experiences of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, Sikhs, practitioners of African-descended religions, Humanists, and other ethical and spiritual traditions. Through case studies, we offered a snapshot of the breadth and significance of cultural expressions of faith and belonging.
The program explored rituals and values that shape American cultural traditions and help us to organize our lives. They connect us to the past and shape our visions for the future. By engaging with rituals and secular stories, Americans build community, agitate for social change, and transmit our heritage and worldviews to others.
At the heart of Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S. was the encounter. We invited visitors to ask questions and share stories, to dance and sing, to smell and taste. Moments of encounter sometimes generate friction, but they also open paths toward deeper relationships and possibilities to create something new.