A Global Philosophy of Religion in the Local Des Moines Community

Globally, our Lecture and Dialogue Series enacts an innovative approach to religiously inclusive philosophy of religion, exploring common religious themes from different religious perspectives through scholar lectures, practitioner dialogues, and philosophical comparisons. Locally, our Religions of Des Moines Initiative generates informative media about religious communities in the greater Des Moines area, collaborating with local practitioners to create narrative guides, digital stories, and engaging photos of their communities.

Trailer For Our Forthcoming Photo-narrative on Religion in Des Moines: “A Spectrum of Faith”

A Spectrum of Faith | A Spectrum of Faith is a book collaboration between Drake Community Press, The Comparison Project, Photographer Bob Blanchard, and DMARC. The book will be released in spring 2017, and will feature the stories and photos of 15 different faith communities across Greater Des Moines.

For more information, please see our “Spectrum of Faith” page.

To Pre-Order the book: https://www.dmarcunited.org/book/order/.

NEXT EVENT 03/23: “To Die in Peace”: Negotiating Advance Directives in a Navajo Context

Michelene Pesantubbee, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, University of Iowa

Thursday, March 23, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Health care providers in IHS facilities and hospitals have long been reluctant to raise end-of-life issues with Native American patients for fear of violating tribal customs. Dr. Pesantubbee will discuss Navajo beliefs associated with illness and death and how those ideas informed Navajo refusal to consider advance directives. She will conclude with a summary of how the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital staff worked with Navajo social workers to devise a plan that resulted in extraordinary success rates in obtaining Navajo end-of-life directives.

Michelene Pesantubbee is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa. She specializes in Native American religious traditions especially Native American women and religious change and Native American religious movements. She is the author of Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World published by the University of New Mexico Press.

Brain Death; Islamic Theological Responses to Medicalized Dying

Aasim Padela, Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine, University of Chicago

Thursday, March 2, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Dr. Aasim Padela’s lecture will describe critical Islamic theological concepts and relevant juridical rulings pertaining to end-of-life healthcare. Specifically, it will examine ethico-legal perspectives on withdrawal and withholding of life support and brain death, and cover how notions about moral obligations and preservation of human dignity inform viewpoints on death and dying.

Dr. Aasim Padela is the Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Padela is a clinician-researcher and bioethicist whose scholarship lies at the intersection of community health and religion. He has served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar from 2008–2011, a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies in 2010, and a Templeton Foundation Scholar from 2013–2015.

Video of the lecture

Buddhism and The Dilemmas of Death

Damien Keown, Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Read by and response by Gereon Kopf, Professor of Religion, Luther College

Thursday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center


Prof. Keown’s lecture explores the ramifications of the “brain death” criterion of death for Buddhism. Keown suggests that, from a Buddhist perspective, brain death is too uncertain a basis on which to declare the death of a human being. Reviewing attitudes to brain death in Japan and Thailand, Keown concludes that Buddhism does not regard the loss of function in the brain as equivalent to human death.

Damien Keown is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His main research interests are theoretical and applied aspects of Buddhist ethics, with particular reference to contemporary issues. He is the author of many books and articles including The Nature of Buddhist Ethics (Palgrave, 2001), Buddhism and Bioethics (Palgrave 2001), Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2000), Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2006), and the Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford, 2003).

Copy of the Keown Lecture

12/8: Community Interfaith Dialogue

Moderator:Norma Hirsch
  • Norma Hirsch, Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University
Panelists:
  • Younes Ali Younes, imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines
  • Ksenija Milinkovic, presbitera of St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church
  • Ajahn Jackson and Ajahn Somphan, Wat Phothisomphan

Thursday, December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Iles Funeral Homes, Dunn’s Chapel
2121 Grand Ave, Des Moines


Among other questions, the panel seeks to explore beliefs about what happens after death and practices concerning what must be done before and after death. Representatives of three different local refugee communities will explore these beliefs and practices from the perspectives of their religious traditions: Vietnamese Buddhism, African Muslim, and Serbian Christian. The panelists will focus particularly on the tensions between traditional theologies and rituals of death, and the way in which death has increasingly become the domain of medicine and law.

Audio of the Panel:

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Audio of the Q&A:

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