Religious diversity will be the focus of the annual Danforth Lecture at Hope College on Tuesday, April 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The address "Religious Pluralism: Global and Local Issues" will be presented by Dr. Diana L. Eck, who is professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University and director of the Pluralism Project. She will consider the challenges that arise as people of different faith traditions encounter one another, examining the global perspective, the local perspective of the United States, and the personal perspective as people of faith think through the meanings of religious difference for themselves.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Eck's book "Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras" is about inter-religious dialogue and Christian faith in a world of many faiths. Her latest book, "A New Religious America," was published by HarperSF in 2001 and addresses the challenges of religious diversity within the United States. The Pluralism Project's publications include "World Religions in Boston, A Guide to Communities and Resources," and the interactive, multi-media CD-ROM "On Common Ground: World Religions in America."

"Encountering God" won the 1994 Melcher Book Award of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the 1995 Louisville Grawemeyer Book Award in Religion, given for work that reflects a significant breakthrough in the understanding of religion. "On Common Ground" has won major awards from "Media & Methods," "EdPress" and "Educom."

In 1996, Eck was appointed to a U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, a 20-member commission charged with advising the Secretary of State on enhancing and protecting religious freedom in the overall context of human rights. In 1998, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on American religious pluralism.

Her work on India includes the books "Banaras, City of Light" and "Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India"; she co-edited "Devotion Divine: Bhakti Traditions from the Regions of India." She also co-edited "Speaking of Faith: Global Perspectives on Women, Religion, and Social Change."

At Harvard she is also a member of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, the Committee on the Study of Religion and the Divinity School faculty. She is the Master of Lowell House, one of Harvard's 12 residential houses for undergraduates.

Eck graduated from Smith College with a major in religion. She received her master's from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, in South Asian history; and her doctorate from Harvard University, in the comparative study of religion.

The Danforth Lecture is sponsored by the Hope College department of religion with support from an endowment established by the Danforth Foundation of St. Louis, Mo. The program was established by the foundation "to deepen and enlarge the religious dimension of the campus family through speakers whom can reflect on the broad, interdenominational and yet positive sense of the Judaeo-Christian perspectives of life and existence."

Some of the many distinguished scholars who have visited the campus through the program in the past include Dr. Gabriele Boccaccini of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan; Dr. Stanley M. Hauerwas of the Divinity School at Duke University; Dr. Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School; and Dr. Phyllis Trible of Union Theological Seminary.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.