Examining the Spiritual

 

Students, faculty join for discussion of religion at Colby

By Molly Boehmke '05
 

Can liberals and progressives be religious? Is religion a uniting or divisive force on the Colby campus?
These and other questions hung in the air"and on posters on the walls"in the Presidents' Room in Miller Library in November during a forum on religion held by the Multicultural Affairs Committee. "I encourage you tonight to not shy away from difficult subjects," said moderator Carleen Mandolfo, professor of religious studies.

The students didn't shy away, exploring the tension between some parts of the Christian community and liberalism, the media's influence on the public's perception of Islam, and the need for more critical examination of the role religion plays in today's world. Post-election 2004 was "an especially auspicious time to be having this discussion," Mandolfo said.

After the forum, Steven Nuss, associate professor of music and chair of the Multicultural Affairs Committee, said he hoped the event would help bring religion more to the forefront of campus discussions. "While people in general expressed a lot of unease on campus about being open about their religious beliefs, it seemed to me that people gained a lot of confidence and were affirmed by the large and enthusiastic turnout," Nuss said.

Indeed, the forum ended after two hours of discussion but could have gone on much longer as the issues related to religion were explored. I learned," said Mandolfo, ". . . that our students have some very sophisticated views about the way religion functions in contemporary society."