Coming back to life: performance, memory, and cognition in the ancient Mediterranean

McGill and Concordia University, Montreal, QC; May 8-11, 2014

The lines between death and life were neither fixed nor finite to the peoples of the ancient Mediterranean. For most, death was a passageway into a new and uncertain existence. The dead were not so much extinguished as understood to be elsewhere, and many asserted the potential of the deceased’s ongoing agency among the living. Even for those more sceptical of an afterlife, notions of coming back to life provided a framework in which to conceptualise social, cultural, religious, and even political structures.

How might the dead come back to life? In what ways, and through what means, can the dead continue to exercise agency among the living? What does it mean for that which is past—an individual or institution—to linger in the present?

Conference Poster: cbtl_-_poster.pdf

Conference Program: cbtl_-_programme.pdf

Thinking the Sacred with Roger Scuton

Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, Montreal, QC; April 11-13, 2014

Organized by Dr. James Byrson, SSHRC Research Fellow at the Faculty of Religious Studies

This conference is dedicated to the work of philosopher Roger Scruton who will give the keynote lecture (open to the public) sponsored by the Beatty Memorial Lecture Series.  This event brings together an international group of scholars who will respond to different but related aspects of Scruton's work. The focus will be Scruton's work on religion. Scruton approaches religion and the 'sacred' from philosophical point of view, as an author of fiction and poetry, cultural critic, and composer.

Conference website: Thinking the Sacred with Roger Scruton

Beatty Lecture Advertisement: scruton_beatty_lecture

The legacy of Claude Ryan: liberalism, faith, and secularity

February 13-14, 2014

A symposium to answer the question: How do Ryan’s wide-ranging contributions still speak to debates in Quebec and beyond?

Claude Ryan’s approach to liberal democracy offers unique perspectives on public life, journalism, and the role of faith in the public square.

McGill University and the Newman Centre, in collaboration with many partners, will highlight the 10th anniversary of the passing of Claude Ryan with a symposium on February 13 and 14, 2014. Through a series of panels and discussions, this symposium aims to deepen our understanding of Claude Ryan and how religion, politics, history, and culture helped shape his thought and writings.

Symposium program: Liberalism, Faith and SecularityLibéralisme, foi et laïcité

Symposium website:

Videos of the symposium may be viewed here












To mark the 350th anniversary of The Book of Common Prayer (1662)
Wednesday, 5 December, at 5:30pm
The Birks Chapel, 3520 University Street

Conference advertisement: poster [pdf]


International Conference sponsored by CREOR on ‘Religious Freedom in Education’ co-organised by CREOR members Professor Daniel Cere, Professor Douglas Farrow, and Professor Spencer Boudreau, together with Paul Donovan (Loyola) and Blair Major (Faculty of Law) in collaboration with the Faculties of Education, Law, and Religious Studies, the Newman Centre and Institute, Loyola High School, and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. The conference was held at McGill on 3‒5 October 2013 with the participation of 30 scholars from across Canada, USA, and UK.



Christian Faith and the University: From the Reformation to W. Standford Reid; September 26-8, 2014

In the twentieth century the traditional relationship between church and university, faith and reason, came under severe strain. Historian W. Stanford Reid (1913-1996) is a conspicuous Canadian example of one who tried to keep them together. Marking the 500-year history of Protestants in higher education and the 100th anniversary of this Canadian Protestant academic, this three-day conference will survey the story of Christian faith in the University from the 16th to the 20th centuries. In both plenary addresses and shorter thematic presentations, this conference will examine the history of Protestant Christianity's presence in the University, especially in those streams that have influenced or found their way into Canada.

Conference program:christian_faith_and_the_university_conference_program

Conference website:


Paul’s Cross and the culture of persuasion, 1520 – 1640

Conference at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; August 16–18,  2012

Conference Steering Committee: Torrance Kirby (McGill) and Paul Stanwood (University of British Columbia) 

The open-air pulpit situated in the precincts of St Paul’s Cathedral, commonly known as ‘Paul’s Cross’, counts among the most influential of all venues for public discourse between rulers and ruled in early-modern England. In a world where the sermon served as the principal means of adult education, as well as a major instrument of ethical guidance and political control, Paul’s Cross was the pulpit of pulpits; indeed it was the preeminent pulpit in England. The audience gathered there was to a great extent representative of the whole realm and frequently numbered in the thousands. By long tradition this was a place for the announcement of proclamations both civil and religious. Here authorised speakers expounded government policy and denounced heresy and rebellion. Yet, unlike the royal Abbey of Westminster, St Paul’s belonged more to subjects than to princes. Despite official regulation, Paul’s Cross provided a popular forum for the articulation of diverse viewpoints in a turbulent ‘market’ of religious and political ideas. From as early as the thirteenth century the cathedral churchyard had been one of the favoured settings for popular protest—a place where public grievances could be aired, a stage where vital affairs of the nation were enacted. It has been said that the English Reformation was accomplished from Paul’s Cross. What was the precise role played by the public sermon in the formation of the fluctuating religious identities of early-modern England? Who were the principal agents and players? Who constituted the audiences? And what elements of continuity and change can be observed in the employment of this most public of pulpits in the unfolding series of reformations and counter-reformations, from the middle years of the reign of Henry VIII through that of James I?


Conference programst._pauls_4july12 [pdf]





The Legacy of Abū āmid al-Ġazālī (1058-1111)  in the History of Western Thought

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; May 18 - 20, 2012

Organized by CREOR Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Yazid Said, Tantur Institute, Jerusalem

The aim of the workshop is to examine the unique contribution of the great medieval Muslim theologian Abū Ḥāmid al-Ġazālī to the history of Western theological, philosophical, legal and political thought. This year marks the nine hundredth anniversary of Ġazālī’s death. The workshop comes as a contribution to the celebrations of this important anniversary. Ġazālī, as ˛ujjat al­Islam, the defender of Islamic teaching, was a true giant of medieval Islam. His influence on the history of Islamic thought was manifold and various; he disclosed diverse ways by which subsequent Muslim thinkers were able to interpret both the Koran and the Hadith, as well as establish a model by which the subsequent tradition was able to systematize a coherent salvation history. As a scholar, a theologian, a jurist and a Sufi, Ġazālī has long been praised for his contribution to the core principles whereby classical Sunni Orthodoxy came to be established, chiefly by blending together hitherto diverse strands of knowledge.


Workshop descriptionghazali_workshop_description [pdf]



Workshop programghazali_workshop_programme [pdf]







Has Philosophy of Religion a Future? A Symposium; April 25, 2103

The symposium aims to address the emerging new faces of philosophy of religion that expand on the wider cultural issues of theorizing religion today. Topics to be addressed range from how ideology critique has come to change the face of studying religion academically and whether theology and religious studies can or should, in the context of post‐phenomenological debates, co‐exist in the university, to whether traditional philosophy of religion, as distinct from philosophical theology and phenomenology of religion, is more properly philosophy of religious studies. 

The subject matter is a pressing one. Philosophy of religion is changing so rapidly that many wonder, more now than ever, in what it consists. This often raises the urgent question whether philosophy of religion should persist. The symposiasts offer ways in which to mitigate the issues, underlining the importance of reflexivity in the context of religion and not philosophy alone.


Symposium program: kanaris_brochure [pdf]






On Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 5:00pm, the Centre for Research on Religion sponsored the launch of The Slavonic-English Analytical Catalogue of Liturgical Manuscripts in Ukrainian Repositories (SEACLMUR), edited by Peter Galadza, CREOR Visiting Fellow during the 2011-2012 academic year. The presentation was held in the Senior Common Room 100, Birks (3520 University).




Religion and Cultural Mediation in Early Modernity; March 3-4, 2012

 In recent years, writing on early modern religious cultures has turned from examining the upheavals of the Reformation as rupture towards emphasis on continuity through processes of transition and adaptation.  New histories of early modern religious life in Europe are also expanding beyond the limits of Christian historiography, and the traditional scope of religious studies.  At the centre of many of the new cultural approaches to religiosity in the early modern world lie the questions of appropriation and continuity. How did the early-modern world wrestle with radical changes concerning the nature of belief? In what ways did they alter and reshape their religious and everyday lives to conform to the realities of religiously pluralistic societies? Key to understanding how these processes of change emerged and were configured is consideration of the ways in which religious ideas and concepts moved and migrated through cultural media, contexts and discussions from lived practices of everyday piety and belief, to the more esoteric complexities of academic debates in a range of fields.


Conference programreligion_and_cultural_mediation [pdf]





Trauma and Transformation: The Catholic Church and the Sexual Abuse Crisis; October 14-15, 2011

For various reasons, the Catholic Church has emerged as the critical “case study” for the sexual abuse of minors and children within institutional settings. As this crisis unfolds, a wealth of data as well as psychological, ethical, legal, historical, and sociological analysis has been generated. This conference zeros in on these developments and attempts to glean the lessons learned from the trauma of, and evolving responses to, the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.


Conference postertrauma_and_transformation_2011 [pdf]





Global Congress: Peace through Religion; September 7, 2011

A Global Conference on World’s Religions after September 11th took place at the Palais de Congrès in Montreal. Keynote addresses were made by the Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan, Deepak Chopra and many other distinguished religious and academic leaders.

The conference included a keynote address by the Dalai Lama, talks given by the other participants, panel discussions on the importance of inter-faith education and co-operative action, and discussion of a proposed Universal Declaration of Human Rights by The World's Religions


Conference website



Conference program



Conference Resolutions






Public Colloquium: The Consecrated Life in Canada: What Future?; August 24, 2011


Colloquium programconsecrated_life_conf_aug2011_programme [pdf]





Philosophy and the Abrahamic Religions: 'Scriptural Authority and Theories of Knowledge'

Istanbul, December 9-10, 2010

From Antiquity to the Enlightenment, during which philosophy and religious thought were inseparably interwoven, the encounter between Greek philosophical tradition and the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam shaped the basic patterns of Western intellectual history. On the common ground of Greek philosophy, the intellectual worlds of the three religious traditions interacted, creating similar patterns of thought in dealing with crucial religious concepts such as God, creation, providence, divine Law, and the origin of evil as well as interpreting their Holy Scriptures. The impact of Greek philosophy on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians, philosophers, and mystics is decisive in that it provided them with a common paradigm of thought and concepts. The primary aim of the conference is to make visible the wide range of links between the intellectual worlds of these three religious traditions, which manifested themselves during the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim encounter with Greek philosophical tradition.


Conference programIstanbulConference_Programme [pdf]



Conference descriptionIstanbulConference [pdf]



Conference abstractsIstanbulConference_Abtracts [pdf]






An International Symposium on Religion and Public Reason; September 13-15, 2007

This Newman Centre symposium was co-sponsored by the Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy project (Faculty of Religious Studies), with support from the Faculty of Arts, the Beatty Foundation, and other partners. Professors Douglas Farrow and Daniel Cere were co-chairs.

In his controversial Regensburg lecture of 12 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sought to re-frame the interaction of religious traditions on the principle that ‘not to act reasonably is contrary to the nature of God’. He also called on the universities, and on all partners in the dialogue of cultures, to rediscover this principle by engaging ‘the whole breadth of reason’ – appreciating its grandeur and repudiating reductionist approaches to reason. This unabashedly hellenistic emphasis raises important questions about the relation between faith and reason, and about the role of religion in the exercise of public reason. Is religion necessary to sustain reason? Do different religions represent competing claims about reason and rationality as well as about revelation? Does religious diversity mean that public decision-making, even as regards moral or ethical matters or human rights, should seek to bracket the God-question? Or is that not possible without undermining the rational basis for deciding and acting? (Scroll down the page to find the information on this one, as there is no specific link.)






Peter Martyr Vermigli Conference: Humanism, Hebraism and Scholasticism; August 8-10, 2007

Peter Martyr Vermigli’s relationship with the French Reformation is seen in most literature as short-lived and not very substantial. Generally scholarship has noted that his knowledge of the French language was weak, at best, and his direct participation is limited to his time at the Colloquy of Poissy (1561). Yet this common picture of Vermigli’s influence is a substantial understatement of what can be seen in the actual sources. By re-examining the sources (many of which have never been studied in Vermigli literature to this date), a much better picture can be drawn. The new picture that develops is one of a respected scholar who had continual contact with and influence on French Protestantism during his life and well after his death.


Conference programvermigli_programme_leaflet [pdf]






Late Antique Crossroads in the Levant: space, rituals, texts, and daily life; November 1-4, 2006

The colloquium was open to all interested students and researchers. It involved the presentation and discussion of scholarly papers, as well as opportunities to learn about new discoveries from the Near East dating to late antiquity. Students had many educational opportunities not only to discover the fascinating materials from this region, but also to participate in discussion of research methods and approaches. We also mounted a public exhibition of photographs from Syrian church mosaics that researchers and law officers in Montreal played a key role in restoring to Syria.


Conference website





World Religions after September 11: Can Religion be a force for good?; September 11-15, 2006

Over 2025 individuals from 84 countries around the world attended the World’s Religions after September 11 Congress. A total of 225 speakers assisted in over 8 Workshops, 18 Plenary presentations, 47 Panels and 236 Individual presentations over the course of the 5 day congress.  Additional highlights included the morning observances, the unique cultural evenings and the daily Youth and Religion workshops that drew in over 200 youth participants.


Conference website



Conference program [pdf]



Draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World's Religions [pdf]