Two decades have passed since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston sex abuse scandal. Media and other institutions have retained these events in the collective memory, and the public still often associates religion with secrecy and violence. This August, a small group of academics, journalists, and faith leaders will visit campus for a workshop on how to reshape the public conversation about religion. Their meeting will focus on religion’s roles in preserving memories of past violence as well as memories of healing and rebuilding after the worst happens.
How should academics, faith leaders, and journalists remind the public of decades-old traumatic events involving religion? Are we ready to begin revising these stories in light of more recent events—for instance, the United States’ pullout from Afghanistan, new abuse reports on Christian denominations, the fallout around mass shootings, or the repeal of Roe v. Wade? How might recalling past disasters spur us to act on behalf of today’s victims and prevent future violence? And, while redressing wrongs, how can we avoid losing sight of the abundant good that flows into the world through religion?
Faith seems to be ever more present in the national conversation but are there better ways to talk about it? Why is it that some stories are never forgotten and others never aired? In this discussion, several of our workshop participants share with us what they have discerned as we continue to commemorate our losses and repair our mistakes.