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.

NEXT EVENT: 10/27 Community Interfaith Dialogue

Moderator:Norma Hirsch
  • Norma Hirsch, Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at Des Moines University
  • Eugene Kiruhura, pastor of the Urban Heights Covenant Church
  • Tanka Dhital, president of the Hindu Cultural and Educational Center
  • Nijaz Valjecvic, imam at Ezan Islamic and Educational Center

Thursday, October 27, 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: Bhutanese Hinduism, Bosnian Islam, and Congolese Christianity. 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.

The Ritualization of Death: The Journey from the Living-living to the Living Dead in African Religions

Herbert Moyo

Director of the Practical Theology Programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Thursday, October 6, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University
Dr. Herbert Moyo’s talk will address Ndebele theologies and rituals of death and dying, especially as these involve ongoing relationships with the ancestors. Moyo will focus on the ways in which the modern medicalization of life and death offer challenges to these traditional philosophies and practices.
Dr. Moyo teaches practical theology, religion and governance, and church leadership in the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Moyo’s research focuses on church and state relations in Africa, the relationship between traditional African religions and the Christian church, and coping with death and dying in Africa.
Response by Willy Mafuta, United Methodist minister and adjunct professor of religion

“A Time to Be Born, and a Time to Die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2): A Jewish View of the Modern Medical Complexities of Dying

Elliot Dorff

Elliot Dorff Rector 2011

Rector and Sol & Ann Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy, American Jewish University
Thursday, September 15, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center
Dorff will be discussing how the medical and social features of contemporary societies make treating the dying much more morally fraught than it was in the past, and, given that, what the Jewish tradition can advise us on how to treat the dying not simply as patients, but as people worthy of respect.

Elliot Dorff is Rector and Distinguished Service Professor at American Jewish University and Visiting Professor at UCLA School of Law. He served on three federal commissions on matters of health care and now serves on a commissions on matters of health care and now serves on a commission for the State of California. He is the author of Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics.

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