CORVALLIS, Ore. - Nobel Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and six other world renowned scholars on religion will speak at Oregon State University in February as part of a major international symposium called "God at 2000."

The conference will be televised live over the Episcopal Cathedral Teleconferencing Network, with more than 600 downlink sites around North America.

The lecturers represent the three major western religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity (Catholic and Protestant). Each of the lecturers will address the question, "How I See God," then interact with the live and televised audiences.

"How we think about God matters," said Marcus Borg, the Hundere Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State, and one of the presenters. "Our concepts and images of the sacred shape our sense of the reality - or unreality - of God, our sense of God's character, and our perception of what life with God is all about."

The speakers include:


  • Karen Armstrong, a leading British commentator on religious affairs who spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, then became a writer and television broadcaster in 1982; author of 10 books, including the best-selling "A History of God."


  • Marcus Borg, the Hundere Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University, lecturer, and author of 10 books, including the best-selling "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time," and the award-winning "The God We Never Knew"


  • Joan Chittister, a prominent Benedictine sister, lecturer and author of 19 books, including "Passion for Life: Fragments of the Face of God."


  • Diana Eck, professor of comparative religions and Indian studies at Harvard University, and author or editor of five books on religion in India, including "Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banares."


  • Lawrence Kushner, rabbi, author and lecturer whose work reflects Jewish mystical tradition. His 10 books include "The River of Light," "The Book of Words," and most recently, "Eyes Remade for Wonder."


  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University and one of the world's leading experts on Islam. A Gifford Lecturer, he is the author of more than 20 books and 250 articles.


  • Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, retired Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, author and lecturer, and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

    "We have asked the speakers to be personal," said Borg, who organized the conference. "Their task is not necessarily to represent a tradition, though they may draw from whatever traditions they wish. Rather, their question is, 'Given your lifetime of study, experience and reflection, how do you see the sacred?'

    "'What have you learned about God that seems most important to you?'" The public is invited to the conference, which will be held Feb. 11-12 at Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center. Advance registration is $75 for the two-day conference, or $90 after Feb. 1.

    The conference is expected to sell out as did a similar conference held at Oregon State in 1996 called "Jesus at 2000."

    Registration information and other details about the conference are available by calling the Department of Philosophy at Oregon State University, 541-737-6195, or accessing the conference website.

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Marcus Borg, 541-737-6195