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Villanova University's 42nd Annual Theology Institute Conference to Explore "Who is My Enemy? Religious Hope in a Time of Fear"

Two-day event will draw scholars from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths together to discover common ground, ways to end violence

For Immediate Release
Oct. 19, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa., Oct. 19, 2009 – Religion, sometimes cited as a catalyst for violence, in its truest form can also be its cure. The 42nd Annual Conference of the Theology Institute at Villanova University, to be held Oct. 27-28 in the Villanova Room of The Connelly Center on the University’s main campus, will explore how various religions and their adherents construct and deconstruct enemies.

The 2009 conference theme, “Who Is My Enemy? Religious Hope in a Time of Fear,” challenges a distinguished group of national, regional and local scholars and representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths to seek out areas of commonality while respecting differences. A team of scholars will introduce participants to Scriptural reasoning, a communal practice of reading sacred scriptures in small groups in order to find new insights into areas of agreement and understanding.

“The subtitle of the conference is what captures our thinking: religious hope in a time of fear,” Darlene Fozzard Weaver, Ph.D., director of Villanova’s Theology Institute and an associate professor in the University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies said.

“We want to explore and respond to the fear mongering that’s going on -- the way in which practitioners of religious traditions, those who aren’t part of religious traditions, and even those within our own faith communities, construct our perception of folks who inhabit other traditions as enemies instead of common allies,” she added.

Session topics include “Interfaith Relations in Philadelphia,” an interfaith panel discussion, “Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East,” “Hunger, Thirst, and Generosity’s Gift to the Enemy,” and “The Making of the Antichrist, the Last Enemy.”

The conference is free and open to the public but registration is required. For a complete schedule of events, or to register for the conference, call 610-519-4730 or visit:

A performance by Intercultural Journeys, a group of world-renowned artists whose quest is to transcend age-old cultural conflict by fostering dialogue through the common language of music, poetry and other art forms will be featured at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 27 in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. The group will present the world premiere of acclaimed composer Kareem Roustom’s work, “Resonances.” The performance is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.