TEC Presiding Bishop to Participate in Summit on Happiness

Episcopal Presiding Bishop the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will be joining the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders in an interfaith summit on happiness this Fall at Emory University.

Hosted by the campus' Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR), the "Interfaith Summit on Happiness: Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today's Society" seeks to offer a broad definition of happiness and its roots from the perspectives of the worlds' religions, according to the event's organizers.

"Religions variously connect happiness with holiness and health, with piety and charity, with discipline and discipleship, with virtue and valor," said CSLR Director John Witte, Jr. in a statement. "We hope the discussion among these world-class leaders will probe deeply, reveal tensions, and draw connections among the religions, ultimately offering inspiration to all peoples."

Taking place on October 17, the summit will open with an address from the Dalai Lama followed by responses from Jefferts Schori, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and George Washington University Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a world-renowned scholar on Islam.

Krista Tippett, host and producer of the award-winning public radio program Speaking of Faith, will moderate a discussion among the speakers immediately following their formal presentations.

The summit is the culmination of a five-year project by the CSLR on the topic, where eighteen of the group's senior fellows reexamined the traditional teachings captured in the American Declaration of Independence, which offers the "pursuit of happiness" as one of the "unalienable rights" of human kind.

Putting the teachings against the test of science, the group hopes to offer new perspectives on how to approach happiness in today's society.

"Recent developments in positive psychology have brought the idea of happiness back to public attention with a flurry of books and undergraduate courses," said Philip L. Reynolds, CSLR senior fellow, Aquinas Professor of Historical Theology, and director of the Pursuit of Happiness Project. "We entered the debate by reviewing what various Hebrew, Greco-Roman, Christian, and Enlightenment sources had to say about the subject and how those words of wisdom can be applied today in light of recent scientific developments."

Following the interfaith summit will be a major academic conference on the topic at Emory, where Schori, Sacks and Nasr will deliver in depth lectures on the topic from their unique religious viewpoints.

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