Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gülen Movement Discussed in a Conference at University of Southern California

The “East and West Encounters: The Gülen Movement” Conference was held on Dec. 4-6 and was organized by the Pacifica Institute, a Turkish-American institution established by the Turkish community in the Los Angeles area. The conference was sponsored by the University of Southern California's Office of Religious Life, the International Education Center at Santa Monica College, the department of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, the department of religious studies at Humboldt University and the department of religious studies at Whittier College. The conference was held on the USC campus.

During the conference, various topics about Gülen and his movement were discussed, including the characteristics of the Gülen movement, which were described as hizmet (service), the functionality of the movement in contrast to the organizational structure, the contribution of the movement in dialogue between Muslims and Christians, the personality of Gülen and his reflections on hajj, gender issues and the Gülen movement, and hijra (migration) for the sake of God by admirers of Gülen. Some other topics that were discussed included the education of young men as practiced in Gülen-inspired schools and a comparison between educational and spiritual foundations of Gülen schools and Jesuit schools in specific contexts, such as Gülen schools in Australia and Kosovo.

Again, among the topics that were discussed was a comparison between Gülen and Alasdair MacIntyre, who is a contemporary philosopher at the University of Notre Dame, and the contribution of Gülen to public life through the promotion of virtues and spirituality, as well as another paper that dealt with the critiques of Gülen and his movement in political, economic and ideological contexts. Dr. Kathleen Moore of the University of California at Santa Barbara spoke of Turkey's secularism and the Gülen movement. Dr. Juan Campo spoke on Gülen's reflections of hajj, which led me to think once again of the importance of studying Gülen from a religious perspective and not only from a political or sociological perspective.

For more information about this conference and the discussed topics, please visit the conference web site:

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