Listening to Other Voices 2019 - 2020

The Glastonbury Abbey lecture series was established in the fall of 1999 to foster interfaith dialog. Each year a different general topic is presented and speakers are engaged to address it from the perspective of their own faith tradition. The topic for the series year 2019-2020 is "Pathways to the Sacred." Please join us to hear the many ways to find the Transcendent.

Lectures are held in the Morcone Conference Center at 7:15 pm.
No registration required. Seating is on a first come, first seated basis. Parking is also limited. Therefore, we advise that you carpool when possible. Lectures are free. Donations gratefully accepted.

This year’s first lecture has been rescheduled from last year’s series. We are pleased that Arun Gandhi has agreed to present this program at this time.

September 26, 2019: Mahatma Gandhi (1869 -1948)

His nonviolent campaign for India’s independence moved glacially through hunger strikes, marches, boycotts, and imprisonments, ever pressing the British Empire to let go of a province destined to be a free nation. Gandhi’s victory through civil disobedience rather than war inspired Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and demonstrators around the world who have gathered peacefully to speak their truth.

Presenter: Arun Gandhi is the fifth grandson of India’s iconic leader. Born in South Africa, Arun Gandhi experienced the hatred of whites and blacks. His weapon was hating back. But when he was sent to live with his grandfather in India he learned the power of peace. He is an international lecturer on nonviolence and author of several books, including The Gift of Anger. He lives in Rochester, NY.

October 17, 2019: Leo O’Donovan, S.J.
Painting Protest: Violence, Art and Beauty in the 20th Century

The visual and performing arts often invite us to experience the sacred in ways that supersede the written word. Art can inspire us, challenge us, and bring us to new perspectives on our spiritual journey. The 20th century was filled with conflicts that devastated much of Western culture’s ideals and its hope for the future. This slide lecture will examine how painters responded to the calamities of the time and how forms of protest joined evocations of beauty in sustaining the human spirit. Fr. O’Donovan knows the power of art. As a child, his parents instilled in him an appreciation of art, an interest that would remain with him throughout his life.

Fr. O’Donovan is president emeritus of Georgetown University and the Director of Mission for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. He writes extensively on the arts and culture for America magazine.

November 21, 2019: Earl Bullhead
Walking the Red Road: A Spiritual Journey (Heartbeat of a Nation)

To the Lakota, the drum has a life and powerful spirit of its own. It is used to bring balance and renewal to a person through participation in dancing, singing, or listening to the drum. The drum carries the heartbeat of Mother Earth and calls the spirits and nation together. Earl Bullhead performs his songs honestly and simply. Even without a knowledge of Lakota language and culture, one listening can feel the rich treasure of the sacred here. Traveling from North Dakota, Earl brings these sacred rhythms, his story of the role of the drum in his recovery process, and his life as a Lakota singer, all to our doorstep.

Earl Bullhead (Nica Ole – The Curious One) is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Nation. As a singer/composer, he has been a featured artist with such performers as Buffy St. Marie, was the Song Supervisor for the video production, Ride to Wounded Knee, and has become a maker of songs for his people.

January 16, 2020: Barry Gaither
Go Tell It On the Mountain, African American Spirituality in Music

Barry Gaither tells the story of the musicians who would play the Blues on Saturday night and then the Gospel on Sunday morning. Indeed, when we think of paths to the sacred, music often comes to the forefront. These genres of the music of Southern black people have provided a personal and social narrative of the African-American experience: songs of love won and lost, hopes found and dashed, remembrances of places and friends as well as other emotional markers of life met. Although reflective of the African-American experience there is a universality to the spirituality expressed in these themes. In this presentation, Mr. Gaither will discuss how African-American spirituality is expressed through these unique and American musical forms.

Since 1969, Mr. Gaither has been a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He is founder, curator and the current Director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His work has established the National Center as a vital cultural presence for African American art in Boston and the nation.

February 20, 2020: Celene Ibrahim, PhD
Seeking the Transcendent, Islamic Exploration

Watching the dancing of the Mevlevi, the “whirling” derviches, one is transfixed by their movement as well as their deep meditative state. Reading the beautifully embossed ayat (verses) of the Qua’ran, one feels the power of the words. Gazing at the glittering arches of Shiraz, one’s heart soars. Such are the varied expressions of Muslim devotion. Join Dr. Ibrahim on a journey into the Transcendent through the beauty of Islamic literature and art.

Dr. Celene Ibrahim is a pioneering American Muslim leader. She currently is on the faculty of the Groton School. Her published works include One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets, as well as the monograph, Female Figures in Qur’anic Narratives.

March 19, 2020: Rosalie Will Boxt
Jewish Liturgical Music: Is it “Music” or is it “Prayer?”

The constant evolution of repertoire and the ever-growing canon of music in Reform Jewish prayer is an area in which Rosalie Boxt flourishes. Cantor Boxt sees music as a conduit for the expression of prayers and/or texts that may be challenging, offering a vehicle that allows them to become more relatable. The weaving of a diverse musical tapestry expresses the dynamic challenge of what is considered “traditional” and what opens new doorways to the spirit. Cantor Boxt will explore how sacred chant can help us reach Divine heights and see the world anew.

Cantor Rosalie Boxt is the Director of Worship and Music for the Union for Reform Judaism. A consultant to congregations on issues of music and worship, she also has launched Kesher Shir, a venture that brings together Jewish musicians from diverse backgrounds to study, collaborate, and create meaningful music, which will enrich worship and strengthen communities.

April 16, 2020: Randy Michael Testa, Ed.D
Picturing the Invisible: Watching Movies for “Seeds of the Gospel”

Randy Testa loves movies! He views them with the educated eye of the connoisseur who has immersed himself in the craft of cinema. But, Dr. Testa takes his appreciation one level deeper. A fan of the Catholic novelist and short story writer, Flannery O’Connor, Dr. Testa follows her observation that “It is what is invisible that God sees and that the Christian must look for.” Tonight’s presentation offers some ways of seeing film as revelatory if not prophetic. Come immerse yourself in this form of storytelling. Picture the invisible by looking with the eyes of the soul. What might you see?

Dr. Testa is the Associate Director of the PreK-16 Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an award winning developer of creative presentations and formerly served as Vice President for Education and Professional Development at Walden Media.