Smithsonian to focus on nation’s religious history

The day is gloomy, the political news is disquieting, the World Series is touch-and-go and the world is holding its collective breath. Of course, it’s Halloween!

In an unsteady world, there is solace and wisdom in the historic record. So today I’ve found refuge in celebrating the final day of National Archives Month with a most welcome announcement from no less a source than the Smithsonian Institution!

Good news indeed. For the first time since the late 19th Century the Smithsonian has named Curator of American Religion History. He is history of religion scholar Peter Manseau (http://americanhistory.si.edu/profile/1267) who may have been predestined to the position by parentage as well as profession. In his new position, underwritten by the Lilly Endowment, Manseau will “lead a five-year series of events and exhibitions”, including a June 2017 exhibit on religion in early American life.

Speaking of the challenge he faces, Manseau observes “it’s the first time in generations that we look at religion in a holistic comprehensive way….taking a very broad view of religion in America, including and welcoming to all, without obstacles.” One of the earliest events under Manseau’s direction, scheduled for early next month, is a performance of the religious sounds the first Pilgrims may have made and heard coupled with the sacred music of the Wampanoag Native Americans.

It strikes me as worthy of note that Manseau’s appointment and the announcement of the Smithsonian’s attention to our religious heritage meshes with the opening of the Martin Luther exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/mia-exhibit-tells-story-of-martin-luther-art-and-the-reformation/

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names,

but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.

Muhammad Ali

 

 

 

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