Bellarmine News

LMU Faculty, Alumni Speak at Global Interfaith Conference

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Production still from "Caste a Wave"

Fancy Fechser (MA ’15, Yoga Studies) will screen her short film, “Caste a Wave,”
at The Parliament of the World’s Religions. (Photo Credit: Caste a Wave)

Loyola Marymount University faculty and alumni join Jane Goodall, Jim Wallis, Vandana Shiva and other prominent moral leaders as presenters at one of the world’s largest interfaith conferences, The Parliament of the World’s Religions.

The Parliament, held this October in Salt Lake City, fosters understanding among faith traditions, to achieve a just, peaceful, sustainable world. 10,000 attendees from around the world are expected to participate in the week’s events, which include high-profile lectures and dialogues on religious and moral topics ranging from income inequality to indigenous rights to climate change.

Loyola Marymount University’s contributions to these conversations center on faith and the environment. Two alumni of LMU graduate programs will offer a joint session on yoga and ecology: Christopher Miller (MA ‘13, Theological Studies) and Fancy Fechser (MA ’15, Yoga Studies), along with Swami Omkarananda, director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Los Angeles.

In their presentation, Miller, now a Ph.D. candidate at University of California, Davis, will explore the ways that a yoga worldview can positively impact one’s relationship to the natural world. He will also draw parallels between yoga philosophy’s ecological principles and Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on climate change.

Yoga Studies alumna Fancy Fechser will complement Miller’s talk with a screening of “Caste a Wave,” her short film about a mixed-caste surfing tribe whose practice incorporates surfing, yoga and beach clean-up. She produced the film as the final project of her master’s degree in Yoga Studies at LMU.

As students, Miller and Fechser both studied with Dr. Christopher Key Chapple, director of LMU’s Yoga Studies program; he will participate in four panels at the Parliament, including one titled “What Would Gandhi Do?: Moral Strategies for Peace, Sustainability and Justice.” Dr. Nirinjan Khalsa, professor of Theological Studies, will present as well, exploring themes of gender equality in Sikh devotional music.

“Loyola Marymount has the largest Theological Studies faculty west of the Mississippi,” Chapple says. “The Parliament of the World’s Religions is an incredible opportunity to share our scholarship on the world stage.”