The University Record, October 23, 1995

'Day of Dialogue II' addresses ethics, religion, spirituality

By Paula Saha
Record special writer

 As part of a Universitywide effort to address the issues of ethics, religion and spirituality at the U-M, students will explore the diversity of truth during "Day of Dialogue II," 4-9 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 24) at the Michigan League. A panel discussion will take place 4-6 p.m. in Mendelssohn Theatre, followed by an open discussion 6-9 p.m. in the League Ballroom.

Day of Dialogue II is an outgrowth of last year's, "The Role of Religion and Ethics in Transforming the University."

This year's conference will focus on students' answers to such questions as, "How or through what do you arrive at meaning or truth in your life? What is truth or meaning for you? How do you respond when others arrive at a truth or meaning different from your own?"

Coordinator Audrey Brosnan, who also is pastoral associate at St. Mary's student parish, explains that "we wanted the questions to be ethical and religious, but not affecting any bias toward particular faiths."

Graduate and undergraduate students representing various faiths and philosophies will serve on the panel moderated by Leonard Scott, liaison for ethics and religion. Following the panel discussion English Prof. Ralph Williams, also Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, will respond.

Understanding the influences of ethical, religious and spiritual issues are of profound importance to the University community, explains Williams.

"The University as an intellectual community is one which investigates, analyzes, and evaluates a whole range of phenomena concerning human life."

Williams stresses that it is essential that the diversity of the community be respected and recognized. "The dialogue is essentially to consider how we manage this complex reality." Williams characterizes the dialogue as a gathering where participants greet each other's opinions with attentiveness and respect. He also stresses that participants maintain "an openness to and respect for those who are not committed to a specific religious institution."

Such dialogues, adds Brosnan, are integral to the functioning of a community.

"It is important for the University to create opportunities for a wide variety of people with different viewpoints to come together and share their ethical, spiritual and religious ideas and convictions." She sees dialogue as the key to the resolution of conflicts between cultures, races and religion.

Day of Dialogue is sponsored by the Interfaith Student Council; the Council for Ethical, Spiritual and Religious Dialogue; the Association of Religious Counselors; the Liaison for Ethics and Religion; and the Office of the Dean of Students.

"The key to these discussions is diversity," Brosnan says. "We chose the three words---ethics, spirituality and religion---because together they really combine all of the aspects of people. They are the three branches on the tree of the human person, three ways of expression."