Dr. Dylan Belton
Dylan Belton Bio
Dylan Belton completed his B.A. in Philosophy and Theology, and his MTS and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He has received research funding awards from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as the Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology in Heidelberg, Germany. Dylan is currently a Mendel Postdoctoral Fellow at Villanova University.
Belton’s research concentrates on the notion of the “Umwelt” that is currently gaining attention from Anglo-American scholars within anthropology, biosemiotics, cognitive science, religious studies, and philosophy of mind. The Umwelt is the world of meaning or significance that surrounds a living organism, and its species-specific form is tightly correlated with the organism’s sensorimotor and affective capacities. An analysis of an organism’s Umwelt is therefore simultaneously an analysis of its body. Dylan will be exploring interdisciplinary research on the Umwelt as well as its significance for scholarship in theological anthropology focused on human embodiment.
Sally Bowden-Schaible Bio
Sally Bowden-Schaible received her MS in Counseling from the University of Southern Maine and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with nearly 35 years of counseling experience. She is also a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). For many years she was certified as an Approved Consultant in Clinical Hypnosis by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) and from 2010-2018 was an Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) through the National Board for Certified As a mental health professional, Sally provides individual and group clinical supervision/consultation (a contemplative model she developed that integrates mindfulness-based practices) to counselors/psychotherapists.
Sally served as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine, co-teaching Religion and Spirituality in Counseling (2002-2016) and Mind/body in Counseling (2003-2013) in USM's Counselor Education graduate program. She has also taught Mindfulness and Meditation in Social Work in the University of New England's Social Work graduate department. At LivingWell and at Luna Cottage on Verona Island, ME, she teaches continuing education programs, including the 20-hour program, Mindfulness & Meditation in the Mental Health Profession. She also provides workshops on Buddhist psychology, on mindfulness and meditation in the mental
health profession, and on the use of poetry in psychotherapy and caregiving.
She founded LivingWell: a center for cultivating mind-body health and spiritual growth through practices of mindful awareness, creative expression, and integrated care, in 2008, and served as its coordinator until 2018.
In 2018, Sally entered part-time retirement to focus more of her attention on human rights activism, specifically as related to Palestinian human rights in Israel-Palestine, to spend time with family (including her young granddaughters, their parents, and her elderly parents), and to paint and write. She has been a member of IRAS for many years, and currently sits on the IRAS council.
Sally has studied Nikaya and Theravada Buddhism since 1996, primarily at the Insight Meditation Society and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, MA. Her primary teacher was Pali scholar, Andrew Olendzki, PhD. In addition, she has studied with other teachers—most extensively with John Peacock, Stephen and Martine Batchelor, Christina Feldman, and Thanissara and Kittisaro. In 2009, Sally completed a year-long Integrated Study and Practice Program (ISPP) at BCBS. In 2014, she completed Foundations of Buddhist Contemplative Care, a 9-month program at the Zen Center for Contemplative Care in New York City, and in 2015 completed a 9-month course, Untangling Self, with Andrew Olendzki, at the New York Insight Meditation Center in NYC.
In 2006, she founded the Insight
Community of Southern Maine (ICSM), a secular-leaning, unaffiliated sangha devoted to the core teachings of Buddhism, and was Dhamma leader of the sangha until 2018 when it closed. Sally is currently a supporter of Sacred Mountain Sangha, an on-line sangha led by Thanissara & Kittisaro, that is dedicated to the bodhisattva ideal and an integrated spiritual life in service of the welfare of all.
Of particular interest is “social action as spiritual practice”, and her activism is deeply influenced by Buddhist teachings. As a human rights advocate, Sally is informed by the core teachings of the Buddha which emphasize wise understanding, ethical living and compassionate being-in-the-world as means to the ending of suffering. She views social action through human rights advocacy as an integral part of her spiritual practice. Her particular focus for nearly two decades has been on promoting full human rights for all people in Israel and Palestine. She is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, and Zen Peacemakers International. Currently, Sally (BANVAHR) is working on a collaborative fundraising project with Buddhists Across Traditions, Aviv Tatarsky, founder of Engaged
Dharma in Israel; and Thanissara, of Sacred Mountain Sangha, to support Issaf Souf in he development of “Garden of Hope," a mindfulness center in Nablus.
Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock
Rita Nakashima Brock Bio
Rita Nakashima Brock, Rel. M., M.A., Ph.D., is Senior Vice President and Director of the Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America. She leads the organization’s efforts to deepen understanding about moral injury in the many populations who experience it. The center builds on Volunteers of America’s work, spanning more than a century, of helping veterans and others who live with this emotional trauma. A noted theologian, Dr. Brock was the Founding Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, where she also was a Research Professor of Theology and Culture. She is co-author of Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War, Beacon Press, 2012, and Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us, Beacon Press, 2001. She is a leading national expert on moral injury in combat veterans and has offered trainings for VA mental health providers, for professional chaplains, and for veterans and their families. In her first master’s degree, Dr. Brock studied youth development, psychology of religion, and pastoral counseling and was employed as a youth minister. From 1974 to 1988, Dr. Brock was Protestant chaplain for a high school level, human relations and justice, summer-school program in Los Angeles County called Brotherhood/Sisterhood USA, administered by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In addition, from 1979-1981, she served as Assistant Chaplain and Instructor in Religion at Chapman University. For 18 years, Dr. Brock was a Professor of World Religions, Philosophy of Religion, Spiritual Biography, Psychology of Religion, Theology and Women's Studies, and she held the Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, from 1990-1997. In 1997, she became the Director the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, a research fellowship program for distinguished scientists, scholars, humanitarians, and artists. An experienced non-profit program and institution builder, she was a member of the strategic planning team for the 1999 Radcliffe-Harvard merger that led to the creation of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. From 2001-2002, she was a fellow at the Harvard Divinity School Center for Values in Public Life. She also served from 2006-2008 as senior editor in religion for The New Press in New York City. She has edited or contributed to three manuals for navigating careers in religion for the American Academy of Religion. In 2012, she received a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to create the Soul Repair Center, which is dedicated to research and education on moral injury and recovery.
Pastor Amy Butler
Amy Butler Bio
Pastor Amy Butler believes deeply that courageous communities of people who live with tenacious love can change the world. Much of her career has been spent helping build communities of radical witness in the institutional church. She currently leads National City Christian Church as intentional interim Senior Minister.
Before that, Amy served for for five years as the seventh Senior Minister and first woman at the helm of The Riverside Church in the City of New York. Currently she serves as Interim Senior Minister at the national church of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Washington, DC, National City Christian Church. She holds degrees from Baylor University, the International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Pastor Amy’s professional ministry career began as the director of a homeless shelter for women in New Orleans, Louisiana; she later became Associate Pastor of Membership and Mission at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in the city of New Orleans. In 2003, Butler was called to the position of Senior Minister of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown, where she was also the first woman to lead that historic congregation.
Though leading institutions of faith in this moment can be one of the most challenging leadership tasks around, she is optimistic about the impact faith communities have on the world.
Calvin Chatlos Bio
Calvin Chatlos is Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, Board Certified in Child & Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatry where he incorporates spiritual principles in recovery from addiction and trauma. He is a graduate of the Humanist Institute, NYC, long-time member of the Society for Ethical Culture and a board member of the URI Cooperation Circle with the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET), and a recent member of IRAS. He is developer of the “Human Faith Project” focused on the role of self-worth and dignity as part of a “Framework of Spirituality” to open a universal core of religious/spiritual experience and its empowerment of creativity.
Mahjabeen Dhala Bio
Dr. Mahjabeen Dhala, Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies and Director of Madrasa-Midrasha Program, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
In her capacity as a religious leader and pilgrim guide, Dr. Dhala has spent the last couple of decades studying and learning with and from Muslim communities across the global north and south. Her international engagements have privileged her with a unique aptitude of blending research methods from both traditional Islamic principles and western academic disciplines. Mahjabeen serves in faculty and director positions at the Graduate Theological Union, an institution that facilitates graduate study of religion in North America with a unique focus on interreligious and interdisciplinary perspectives.
Martin Hargrove Bio
Bass Martin Hargrove is from Willingboro NJ — and has performed in Opera, Musical Theater, Recitals and Concerts throughout the US, Europe, and Canada. His concert repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, The Faure Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, and Alice Parker’s Sermon on the Mountain. Martin’s operatic roles include Colline, in La bohème, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sparafucile and Monterone in Rigoletto, Angelotti in Tosca, Jake in Porgy and Bess, Sarastro and the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte, Masetto and Il Comendatore in Don Giovanni, and Cinque M’tume in Robert Zuidam’s Freeze. On the Musical Thater stage, Martin has performed in “Aint’ Mis’Behavin’”, and “Little Shop of Horrors”. He was in the pre-Broadway workshop cast of the Tony award winning Musical “The Colour Purple”, and was featured in the Tony Award winning “Show Boat” by legendary director Hal Prince. Martin studied at Westminster Choir College, and Trenton State College and was an apprentice at Florida Grand Opera, and Minnesota Opera. In addition to his solo work, Martin is currently on the roster of the Delaware Choral Artist, The National Chorale in New York City, and The American Spiritual Ensemble. He is also an active church soloist, lecturer, and music workshop leader.
Identity and the Brain: The Biological Basis of Our Self
Andrew Newberg Bio
Dr. Andrew Newberg is the director of research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health and a physician at Jefferson University Hospital. He is board certified in internal medicine and nuclear medicine. Andrew has been asking questions about reality, truth, and God since he was very young, and he has long been fascinated by the human mind and its complex workings. While a medical student, he met Dr. Eugene d’Aquili, who was studying religious experiences. Combining their interests with Andrew’s background in neuroscience and brain imaging, they were able to break new theoretical and empirical ground on the relationship between the brain and religion. Andrew’s research now largely focuses on how brain function is associated with various mental states—in particular, religious and mystical experiences. His research has included brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, as well as surveys of people's spiritual experiences and attitudes. He has also evaluated the relationship between religious or spiritual phenomena and health, and the effect of meditation on memory. He believes that it is important to keep science rigorous and religion religious. Andrew has also used neuroimaging research projects to study aging and dementia, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, depression, and other neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Donna C. Roberts
Donna C. Roberts Bio
Donna C. Roberts is a producer/director with an M.S. in Environmental Science. Prior to Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, Donna directed the award-winning documentary Sea of Uncertainty about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While living in Brazil, she produced a documentary for PeaceWomen Brazil (Mulheres pela Paz), about its campaign to end domestic violence in that country. Her focus is on the work of Brazilian women socio-environmental educators / activists, to add their voices to global environmental education.
Rabbi David Rosen
David Rosen Bio
Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee and Director of its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding.
He is a past chairman of the IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, the broad-based coalition of Jewish organisations representing World Jewry to other religions.
Rabbi Rosen is an Honorary Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; serves on its Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and represents the Chief Rabbinate on the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.
He is Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and serves on the Board of Directors of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).
Rabbi Rosen was a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the establishment of full diplomatic normalization of relations between the two. He has served as a member of the Advisory Committee of the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis and of the World Economic Forum’s C-100, a council of 100 leaders formed for the purpose of improving relations and cooperation between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.
In November 2005, he was made a papal Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great for his contribution to promoting Catholic-Jewish reconciliation and in 2010 was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to interfaith relations.
In addition to honorary doctorates, Rabbi Rosen is the recipient of various awards including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Dialogue Cooperation, the Raphael Lemkin Award for Human Rights, the Search for Common Ground Award for Interfaith Dialogue, and the Festival of Faiths’ Lifetime Achievement Award.
Venerable Lama Losang Samten
Losang Samten Bio
Ven. Lama Losang Samten has been sharing teachings of loving-kindness, joy and compassion, as well as the path to enlightenment for almost 30 years. Losang lived and studied over 20 years in the Namgyal Monastery (the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama) earning the highest degree attainable at the monastery, equivalent to a doctoral degree in the West. He also became a Master of Ritual Dance and Sand Mandalas and was the Personal Attendant to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama prior to moving to the United States in 1988. Ven. Losang Samten is one of the Mandala Masters who created the first public sand mandala in the West in 1988. He is the spiritual director of several Buddhist Centers in North America, with a home base currently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the City of Brotherly Love.
Ven. Losang Samten has led an illustrious career creating sacred sand mandalas that follow the ancient Buddhist tradition. These have been created in museums, universities, schools, community centers, and galleries throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Losang has received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEW Fellowship, and two honorary doctoral degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Maine College of Art. Losang played the role of the attendant to the young Dalai Lama in Martin Scorsese's film Kundun, where he also served as the religious technical advisor and sand mandala supervisor. Losang has written two books, one in Tibetan on the history of the Monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and one in English, Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century.
Losang embodies the qualities of loving-kindness, patience, and joy, which have touched the hearts of all those whom he meets.
Swami Sarvapriyananda Bio
Swami Sarvapriyananda is the Minister and spiritual leader of the Vedanta Society of New York since January 2017. He joined the Ramakrishna Math in 1994 and received Sannyasa (final monastic vows) in 2004. He has served as an acharya (teacher) of the monastic probationers’ training center at Belur Math, India. He has also served in various capacities in different educational institutes of the Ramakrishna Mission in India and as the Assistant Minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He was a Nagral Fellow at the Harvard Divinity School in 2019-20.
Swami Sarvapriyananda is a well-known speaker on Vedanta and his talks are popular with the internet audience. He has been a speaker on various prestigious forums such as TEDx, SAND and has given a Google Talk. He has also been invited to speak at several universities across the world, including the Harvard University. The swami has engaged in dialogues with eminent thinkers like Deepak Chopra, Rupert Spira and Rick Archer. Swami Sarvapriyananda has played a prominent role in organizing and participating in various interfaith panels and seminars, including speaking at the World Parliament of Religions in Toronto in 2018, and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
His popular talks have been compiled into a collection of e-books. “Who am I?”, “What is Vedanta?” and “Dissolve into Infinity” are the titles currently available on Amazon Kindle.
Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake
Dorsey Odell Blake Bio
Rev. Dr. Dorsey Odell Blake, Faculty Associate, Leadership and Social Transformation, was officially installed as Presiding Minister of The Church for The Fellowship of All Peoples in October, 1994. During Dr. Blake’s installation service, Mrs. Sue Bailey Thurman presented Dr. Howard Thurman’s robe — which had not been worn since his death – to Dr. Blake as a symbol of her trust in his leading the congregation “so that there will be no past greater than our future.”
Dr. Blake served as Dean of Faculty and Visiting Professor of Spirituality and Prophetic Justice at Starr King School for the Ministry for six years. He continued to serve on the Core Faculty until his resignation January of 2015. He currently serves as Faculty Associate, Leadership and Social Transformation at Pacific School of Religion.
Prior to joining the faculty at Starr King, Dr. Blake served as Founding Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program and later as Vice President for Community Learning at the University of Creation Spirituality. In addition to responsibilities for curriculum, student and faculty development, he helped to initiate the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration initially held at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church that annually draws over 1,000 people.
Rev. Blake served as the Director of the Center for Urban-Black Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and Core Faculty Member at the GTU; Co-Director, United Campus Ministry, The Ohio University, Athens; and, Program Director of the Howard Thurman Educational Trust, San Francisco. He was also the first full-time Black male professor at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1972-77 where he taught in the Religious Studies Department and designed a major in Black Studies.
Dr. Blake has conducted seminars and workshops locally and nationally. He is the recipient of numerous community service awards, including the first Martin Luther King Award for his work with International Students while at The Ohio University where he established the International Students Emergency Fund; The Negro Spirituals Heritage Keepers Award, Friends of Negro Spirituals, 2008; the Faculty, Staff Support Award, Afro-American Association, The University of Alabama, 1977, 1976, 1973, 1972 ( the only times the award was presented); and the Distinguished Alum Award from Pacific School of Religion, 2007. He received academic grants from the Fund for Theological Education and the Danforth Foundation.
He has extensive field ministry experience with interfaith groups addressing justice and peace issues, including the California People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, The Interfaith Alliance for Prison Reform, Genesis and The San Francisco Interfaith Council. He served as a member of the steering committee of Religious Witness with Homeless People and has been in the forefront of peace and justice activities, speaking to small audiences and rallies that have drawn over 200,000 people. In May – June, 2000, he traveled to Morocco with an interfaith delegation of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in a quest to promote interfaith respect and cooperation. In October 2010 he met His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and served on an interfaith panel responding to his teachings. Currently, he serves as Board Chair for IDA, a social networking platform that seeks to empower women and communities of color most affected by today’s economic crisis.
Dr. Anindita N. Balslev
Anindita N. Balslev Bio
Dr. Anindita N. Balslev is engaged in research in consciousness-studies and is the founder of the Forum CCC (Cross-cultural Conversation). She directs the CCC program that focuses especially on dialogue between science and religion, the meeting of cultures, and encounters between world-religions. The international CCC conferences that she has organized in association with national organizations and institutes in India and abroad have led to thought-provoking discussions.
In the course of her career, Dr. Balslev has worked at the Department of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen and the Aarhus University and received scholarship from the French government, fellowships from the Danish Council for the Humanities, Freja Project, and government of Denmark, and a Nehru Fellowship from Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi, India. She is one of the founding members of ISSR.
Her publications include Cross-cultural Conversation: A New Way of Learning (Routledge, London & New York, 2020), Reflections on Indian Thought: Fourteen Essays (D.K.Printworld, New Delhi, 2019), The Enigma of I-consciousness (OUP, New Delhi, 2013), A Study of Time in Indian Philosophy (Germany, 1983/India, 4th.ed. 2019); Cultural Otherness: Correspondence with Richard Rorty (OUP, USA, 2000); and many articles.
Dr. Balslev has served as co-editor of Religion and Time (The Netherlands, 1993) and Compassion in World's Religions (Litt, Germany, 2010) as well as the organizer of the session on Religious Identity: Its Uses and Abuses at the Parliament of World's Religions, 2015 in Atlantic City, USA. She is also the editor of Cross-Cultural Conversation: Initiation, (OUP,USA, 1996); Toward Greater Human Solidarity (Kolkata, 2006); On India: Self Image and Counter Image (Sage, 2013); 'On World Religions: Diversity, Not Dissension' (Sage, 2014).
Dr. Carolyn J. “C. J.” Love
Carolyn J. “C. J.” Love Bio
Dr. Carolyn J. “C. J.” Love serves as the V.P. of Summer Conferences and the Website technician for the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. She obtained her B.S. in Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.A. in Religious Studies at Edgewood College, Madison, and Ph.D. in Constructive Theology at Loyola University, Chicago. Her interest in science and theology arose after “retiring” from a career in clinical human genetics to full-time parent her three children who are now in their twenties. C.J. developed an interest in theology after taking a moral theology class for fun, earned her Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago while raising her three children, and defended her dissertation, Re-thinking Anthropocentrism Through a Genetic-Event Philosophy of Time, with distinction. She teaches ethics and philosophy of religion at Elmhurst University and Bible for the Diocese of Joliet Diaconate Program.
Dr. Love is currently co-editing a book that examines how philosophical, theological, and social scientific principles can be applied to our social institutions such as education, social welfare, criminal justice, government, and the economy. Invited talks include a panel on “Person and Evolution” at Loyola University Chicago, “Life as Advent: Rethinking God, Rethinking the Human,” the IRAS webinar, “God, Genetics, and Event Phenomenology,” and “Genes and Maps as text of the Human,” Groningen, Netherlands. Dr. Love’s publications include God, Genetics and Event Phenomenology: Rethinking Common Human Experience of Temporality in Theology and its Usefulness in Science, Theology, and Contemporary Culture, ISSN 2300-6579.
Her greatest joy is her family!
Jennifer E. Whitten
Jennifer E. Whitten Bio
Jennifer E. Whitten is a writer, educator, and theologian who has worked as a hospice chaplain, English and communications faculty, college academic support center director, pulpit supply preacher, and writing consultant with 30 years of experience in technical, expository, narrative, persuasive, and transactional writing and editing. Most recently, she worked at a cGMP pharma company conducting deviation investigations, served as instructional design consultant for a course addressing implicit bias, and began development on a youtube project which explores the “Allergy to the Other” through theology, visual art, music, theater, and writing.
Jennifer holds an MA in literature and writing from the University of Colorado (1994), an MFA with a dual focus in fiction and poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2000), and an MDiv from the Graduate Theological Union (2013). At the GTU, Jennifer’s emphases included family ministry; Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Unitarian Universalism; pastoral care in grief and dying; restorative justice and conflict transformation; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and arts in ministry. She has a particular affinity for process theology, mystic traditions, elements of religious naturalism, social justice, and Howard Thurman.
Jennifer’s interest in science-religion dialogue began in 1995 when she arrived on Star Island to work with IRAS’ Archipelagos youth program. She has continued to serve in that capacity ever since. Jennifer also has served as IRAS Council member (since 2013), Communication and Cultures Group co-chair, VP for Membership Engagement, Executive committee member, year-round Beacon editor, Star Beacon Editor, website manager, marketing team member, financial assistance fund/auction founder and coordinator, and enthusiastic champion of intergenerational community in IRAS and beyond.