First European Anatheism Conference—The Rediscovery of the Divine
"Contemporary Forms of Anatheism," a conference at Palazzo Lascaris in Turin, Italy, organized by the Buddhist Information Center of Giaveno and the Church of Scientology, brought together religious experts and representatives of diverse religious traditions to explore anatheism, "a mystical ground...of what is most fundamental in each religion which is not easily translated into language ..."
University professors, researchers, and experts on the history and phenomenology of religion and representatives of various religious traditions participated in the First European Conference on Anatheism December 1 and 2, held at the Palazzo Lascaris in Turin, seat of the Regional Council of Piedmont.
Organized by the Buddhist Information Center of Giaveno and the Church of Scientology, in coordination with the Observatory on Religious Pluralism, the symposium sought to bring clarity to the subject of anatheism.
Anatheism is a term introduced by philosopher Richard Kearney (Boston University) in his book Returning to God After God. He describes anatheism as “a third way beyond the extremes of dogmatic theism and militant atheism: those polar opposites of certainty that have maimed so many minds and souls in our history. The third option, this wager of faith beyond faith, I call anatheism. Ana-theosis, God after God...another word for another way of seeking and sounding the things we consider sacred but can never fully fathom or prove.”
Professor Luigi Berzano of the University of Turin and coordinator of the Observatory on Religious Pluralism, emphasized the significance of the initiative, describing it as “a conference of historic significance for the sociology of religion,” laying the foundation for “a new approach to analyzing the phenomenon of atheism.”
The first session was moderated by Professor Stefania Palmisano, associate professor of culture and communication at the University of Turin and included the following presentations:
- Professor Giovanni Leghissa—University of Turin: “Anatheism as religious experience and the origins of modern spirituality”
- Dr. Massimo Introvigne—sociologist, attorney, author, and founder and director of CESNUR, Center for Studies on New Religions: “Anatheism and modern art: can this marriage occur?”
- Professor Luigi Berzano—sociologist, Catholic priest, president of CESNUR: “Anatheism research: the infinity of religions”
The second session, moderated by the Reverend Elena Seishin Viviani, a Buddisht monk, covered the following topics:
- Professor Silvio Calzolari—religious historian and orientalist: “Who shall take God’s position? Spirituality without religion in Asia: Buddhism and Confucianism”
- Rev. Fausto Taiten Guareschi—Zen Buddhist monk: “Irreligious negligence”
- Lama Paljin Tulku Rinpoce—Buddhist monk: “The raft and the shore: the gods as able medians and the sacredness of the good in the practice of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism
The final session of the first day was moderated by attorney Dr. Fabrizio d'Agostini and included:
- Professor Marco Vannini—author and expert on Christian medieval mysticism: “Mystic atheism and anatheism”
- Professor Aldo Natale Terrin—Catholic priest, cultural anthropologist and author: “God disappears, returns, changes aspect in today’s culture and religions”
- Professor Roberto Celada Ballanti—associate professor of philosophy of religion at University of Genoa (presented by Professor Marco Vannini): “The parable of the three rings as image of anatheism”
- Professor Enzo Pace—sociologist and author: “Modern forms of believing in a time of strong religions”
The conference resumed December 2 with an additional session moderated by Don Ermis Segatti, Catholic priest and professor of history of Christianity and European theologies at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy in Turin.
The papers presented in this session covered the following topics:
- Dr. Alex Borio—Researcher of classic and modern cultures at the University of Turin: “Anatheism in the sphere of the spiritual path of Santa Teresa d’Avil”
- Professor Emanuela C. Del Re—professor of sociology of political phenomena in the Middle East: "Forms of anatheism of young Muslims between the Diaspora and the Islamic State”
- Professor Claudio Giuseppe Torrero—educator and author: “About the reality of symbols”
- Professor Carlo Genova—professor of sociology of cultural processes and lifestyles at the University of Turin: “Doctrine, credence and meaning in religious practices."
- Dr. Alessandro Meluzzi—professor, psychiatrist, bishop of the Christian Orthodox Church of Turin and former Senator of the Italian Republic: “Anatheistic researches: sacred and parrhesia”
The Center of Buddhist Information of Giaveno and the Church of Scientology announced the imminent publication of the proceedings for anyone wishing to obtain copies of the papers.
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