IDI: Interreligious Dialogue Initiative

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Healing the Ruptures of Coloniality: Race, Religion, and the Secular

Dr. Oludamini Ogunnaike, University of Virginia

Tuesday, May 9

4-5:30pm in Le Roux Room (STCN 160)


While colonialism is widely believed to have officially ended in the 20th century, ushering in a "postcolonial" era, and W.E.B. DuBois famously defined the "problem of the 20th century [to be] the problem of the color line," this presentation will examine the ways in which this colonial color line has transformed and continues to thrive in the 21st century.  Critically building on the work of Frantz Fanon and Sylvia Wynter, and in particular reference to the mutually-influencing categories of race and religion, this talk will explore the roots of this continuing colonial rupture, and strategies for moving beyond it in various domains.

Oludamini Ogunnaike is an Associate Professor of African Religious Thought at the University of Virginia specializing in the intellectual and aesthetic dimensions of West and North African Sufism and Yoruba oriṣa traditions. He is the author of Deep Knowledge: Ways of Knowing in Sufism and Ifa, Two West African Intellectual Traditions (Penn State University Press, 2020)  winner of the ASWAD's (Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora) Outstanding First Book Prize and Poetry in Praise of Prophetic Perfection: West African Madīḥ Poetry and its Precedents (Islamic Texts Society, 2020). He is currently working on two book projects, The Logic of the Birds: An Introduction to Sufi Poetry and Poetics and a book on Yoruba Mythology.

He received his PhD in African and African American studies and Religion at Harvard University and his A.B. in African Studies and Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard College. 

Flyer of event. Background color is a gradient from left to right of fuchsia, red, and orange. On the right of the flyer, there is a black and white photography of Valarie Kaur, she has long straight hair with waves at the ends, she is smiling and looking directly to the camera, she has black shirt with a lighter sweater on top. On the right side of the flyer, there is information about the event

See No Stranger: Reconciliation and Revolutionary Love with Valarie Kaur

Thursday, April 20
5pm PST on Zoom

VALARIE KAUR is a civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Valarie became an activist when a Sikh father and family friend was the first person murdered in hate violence in the aftermath of 9/11. For two decades, in his memory, Valarie has led visionary campaigns to tell untold stories and change policy on issues ranging from hate crimes to digital freedom. Her work ignited a national movement to reclaim love as a force for justice.

Today, the Revolutionary Love Project is seeding networked communities of practice across the country to build the beloved community. A daughter of Punjabi Sikh farmers in California, Valarie lifts up her vision for America in her acclaimed TED Talk and #1 LA Times Bestseller See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. In Fall 2022, President Biden honored Valarie at the White House in the first-ever Uniters Ceremony, naming her as one of 16 leaders whose work is healing America.

To experience Valarie’s vision for America, watch her TED Talk and read her acclaimed book SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.

Flyer of event with green background. Photography of Dr. Atleo on the left. On the right with white letters: Healing and Reconciliation: A Nuu-Chal-Nulth Perspective. Dr. E. Richard Atleo, Hereditary Chief Umeek. Wednesday, March 1 at 4 p.m. Three icons of Laudato Si' goals on the bottom left: Ecological Education, Ecological Spirituality, Community Resistance and Empowerment.

Healing and Reconciliation: A Nuu-Chal-Nulth Perspective

Discussion with Dr. E. Richard Atleo, hereditary chief Umeek

Wednesday, March 1, 2022. 4pm.

Oberto Commons, SINE 200


Dr. E. Richard Atleo, whose Nuu-chah-nulth name is Umeek, is a hereditary chief. He is widely and duly celebrated both for his analysis and promotion of the Nuu-chal-nulth concept of "tsawalk," oneness, the interdependence of all things, and for fostering our respectful relationship and negotiation with it. He has written two contemporary classics on this theme, Tsawalk: A Nuu-Chal-Nuth Worldview (2005), and Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis (2012). He will draw on his vast experience and his life in two cultural worlds to speak to healing and reconciliation. 

Dr. Atleo's contributions include the creation of the First Nations Studies Department at Vancouver Island University where he also taught as well as the Universities of Victoria, Manitoba, Simon Fraser, and UBC. Beyond his roles in academia, Dr. Atleo was a social worker, elementary school teacher, principal, federal ministerial assistant, and assistant superintendent of education. Dr. Atleo received the Equity Award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, where he served as a member of the Equity Committee since its inception. His contributions extend to other organizations, including roles as co-chair of the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound, and as a member of the board of Ecotrust Canada.

Read The Salmon Parks story in The Seattle Times

A Message from the IDI Chair, Dr. Jason Wirth:

After a long ordeal, we return to campus, perhaps with apprehension, likely licking our wounds. In a spirit of solidarity and compassion, I welcome everyone back.

I am currently serving as the chair of the Interreligious Dialogue Initiative (IDI), which is part of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC) and works collaboratively with them. It organizes and hosts one major lecture each quarter, seeking to address the themes highlighted by the ICTC, but through the lens of interreligious dialogue and reflection. It is my hope to contribute to a healthy, inclusive, respectful, and honest space of shared spiritual striving across the human world’s many religious traditions.

In the months before his passing, Peter Ely, SJ, asked me to replace him as the head of the IDI. It continues to remain my privilege to accept Peter’s offer and to walk in his admittedly large footsteps. I dedicated the first year to his memory and legacy. Challenges and opportunities continue to confront us, and I hope to use Peter’s generous, discerning, and radically open example as an inspiration and guide.

Last academic year, as we all navigated the strange waters of the pandemic, the IDI hosted two events. In the winter quarter, the Soto Zen priest and Viet Nam War veteran Claude AnShin Thomas spoke on peacemaking. In the spring quarter, our own Pat Twohy, SJ, joined the Lummi Elder Darrell Hillaire in a dialogue about spirituality and the ecological crisis. Both events were held on Zoom and were recorded and remain available for viewing on the ICTC website.

I am still planning this academic year’s three lectures. Given the current policy proscribing large non-classroom events, the Fall lecture and discussion will be offered remotely through Zoom. Although the circumstances of the winter and spring lectures are still to be determined, the winter lecture will highlight the Sakyadhita International Association for Buddhist Women, whose new president is Dr. Sharon Suh, and which works “at the grassroots level” to provide “a communications network among Buddhist women internationally” and to “promote research and publications on Buddhist women’s history and other topics of interest” and to “strive to create equal opportunities for women in all Buddhist traditions.” Although the speaker is still in the process of being identified, I am also working with our local friends at the Seattle Buddhist Study Center at the Betsuin (Seattle Buddhist Church). For more information on Sakyadhita, see:

Please contact me with questions and suggestions. I seek to be responsive to our community and to offer spiritually rich and provocative programming that will nourish our whole community, religious and non-religious, traditionalists and seekers.

Tetsuzen Jason Wirth (

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Corona Sutra

With Jason Wirth, PhD

Tetsuzen Jason Wirth, Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University and a Soto Zen priest, offers a Dharma talk (speaking from the heart regarding the great matters of living and dying) that also seeks to offer some Zen words of encouragement during the current crisis. He begins with a brief reflection on a line from the Heart Sutra and then ties its thought to the words of Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253). In so doing, he tries to understand how Dogen would also have seen our crisis as a sutra, a moment the study of which can lead to an awakening and a deepening of our practice.

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Past Messages from IDI

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About the Interreligious Dialogue Initiative

The Interreligious Dialogue Initiative (IDI) established in 2012 under the auspices of Mission and Ministry and now, as of Fall 2015, located within the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC) aims to awaken sensibility in the Seattle U. community to the richness of the world’s religions, a richness abundantly represented on our campus, and to move beyond mere tolerance to engagement. The IDI steering committee includes on-campus representatives of various religious and spiritual traditions and key areas such as Campus Ministry, Theology and Religious Studies, and the School of Theology and Ministry. Beginning in the academic year 2019-2020, the IDI will be shifting its focus in a new direction. Each quarter IDI, in collaboration with various other groups and initiatives on campus, will sponsor a public forum designed to deepen awareness of religious traditions and spiritual pathways. We hope that these events will emphasize the continuing creative role of religions in a secular age.


Read the text from the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Decree 5: “Our Mission and Interreligious Dialogue.”