11/4 Meet My Religious Neighbor: Islamic Center of Des Moines

Please join us on Saturday, November 4th, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, for the next open house in our Meet My Religious Neighbor series.

This open house is hosted by the Islamic Center of Des Moines, which is located at 6201 Franklin Avenue in Des Moines.  At 5:00 pm, there will be an introduction to the community, their mosque, and their practices in the prayer hall.  After that, the community will be praying their evening (maghrib) prayers.  Finally, there will be a potluck meal served in the fellowship hall.

Guests are encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share.  Women should bring a scarf to cover their heads; arms should also be covered to the wrists, legs, to the ankles.



10/26: “Does ‘the God who acts’ really act? Special divine action via quantum mechanics that is objective but not miraculous”

Robert Russell
Founder and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
Thursday, October 26, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University

Russell starts with basic concepts in a Christian theology of divine action, including miracles.  He focuses on the challenge posed by Hume to the concept of “miracle” as a violation of the laws of nature and its devastating consequences for theology in the 18th – 20th century theology.  He then describes a new way to achieve a theory of divine action in which God’s action makes an objective difference in the processes of nature without in any way being a violation of, or intervention into, these processes: “NIODA” (non-interventionist objective divine action). NIODA, in turn, requires that there be genuine openness (“ontological indeterminism”) at some level in nature.  Russell briefly describes several candidates before turning to quantum mechanics (QM).  He argues that QM offers a promising approach for NIODA and in addition, when coupled with “theistic evolution”, it allows Christian theology to view God as acting in, with and through the biological evolution of life without recourse to Intelligent Design and in a response back against claims that evolution supports atheism.


Robert J. Russell is Founder and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) and the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He is a leading researcher and spokesperson for the growing international body of theologians and scientists committed to a positive dialogue and creative mutual interaction between these fields. He most recent book is Time in Eternity: Pannenberg, Physics and Eschatology in Creative Mutual Interaction (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). He has co-edited a six volume CTNS/Vatican Observatory series on scientific perspectives on divine action and the first in the new series on scientific perspectives on the problem of natural evil.  He is a founding co-editor of the scholarly journal Theology and Science which CTNS members internationally receive. Dr. Russell is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Santa Cruz (1978) and an M.A. in Theology and an M. Div. from Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (1972).

Video of lecture

10/8 Meet My Religious Neighbor

Our next “Meet My Religious Neighbor” open house is on Sunday, October 8th from 10am – 12pm. It will be held at one of the Lao Buddhist temples in Des Moines, Wat Phothisomphan, which is located at 2560 SE 14th Street.

The service will include Tak Bat, the offering of food to the monks at the temple, as well as chanting meditation, a dharma talk (“sermon”), and lunch.

Meet My Religious Neighbor is a monthly open-house series. Each open house allows the public the opportunity to tour a sacred space, learn how religion is practiced in it, and meet the congregation who worships there.




Miracles as Transforming Invitations to Wonder & Gratitude: An Islamic Perspective

Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu
Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, St. Joseph’s University
Thursday, October 5, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University

Miracle stories in the Quran interrupt our familiarity with the world. In fact, the Quran (not unlike other scriptures) shocks us with stories like that of virgin birth, instant healing with touch, fire not burning and a staff becoming a serpent. Why? This talk will suggest that these miracle stories in the Quran are in fact transformative invitations to wonder & gratitude. In making this point, the talk will make use of two insightful Islamic theologians, Ghazali (11th century) and Nursi (20th century), with a focus on their approach to the Quran, natural order, and human life.


Professor Yazicioglu’s research is on interpretation of the Quran in the contemporary age, Islamic theology and spirituality, with a focus on the works of a significant Muslim theologian, Said Nursi. Her book Understanding Quranic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age (Penn State University Press, 2013) brings Muslim thinkers into conversation with Western thinkers. She is also a team member of an Islamic spirituality non-profit, Receiving Nur. Yazicioglu holds an MA in Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary and a PhD in Religious Studies from University of Virginia.

Video of the Lecture

9/14: Miracles: A Philosopher’s Stance

Karen Zwier
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Drake University
Thursday, September 14, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University

Miracle stories are a phenomenon shared by all major religious traditions.  What is a rational person to think in the face of this phenomenon?  In this lecture, Professor Zwier will survey some of the ways in which philosophers have analyzed the concept of miracles and grappled with the question of the proper epistemic stance toward miracle reports.

Professor Zwier’s research deals with philosophical and scientific methodology as well as metaphysics of science. She concerns herself with questions about how—and if—metaphysical claims are engaged by empirical scientific methods. Her areas of specialty include philosophy of causation, history and philosophy of physics, and science and religion.

Video of the Lecture

9/2 Meet My Religious Neighbor

Our next “Meet My Religious Neighbor” open house is on Saturday, September 2nd, from 6-8pm. It will be held at the home of one of the members of the Hindu Cultural and Educational Center at 2513 E. Porter Ave in Des Moines.  (This Hindu community does not yet have its own temple.)

From 6-8pm the community will perform bhajans (devotional hymns), accompanied with music and dancing.  (Participants will have the opportunity also to dance!) At the end of the bhajan service, a light meal (prasad) will be served.



8/18: Interfaith Youth Camp Film Screening

August 18, 2017, 3-5 p.m.
Cowles Reading Room, Cowles Library

In collaboration with the Des Moines Area Religious Council and the Iowa Sikh Tubanators, we are hosting an interfaith youth camp for high school students from six religious traditions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh. At the camp, these students are creating digital stories about personal faith experiences and practices, visiting each other’s places of worship, and discussing the principles of interfaith leadership from Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Leadership.

On Friday, from 3-5pm, in Drake University’s Cowles Library Reading Room, we will be screening their digital stories for the general public.  Please join us for this special event.

Interfaith Youth Camp: August 14-18

On the week of August 14-18, Drake University’s Comparison Project, along with the Des Moines Area Religious Council and the Iowa Sikh Turbanators, will host its first interfaith youth camp. We have invited high-school students from each of the 15 communities featured in A Spectrum of Faith to participate in the camp.

The morning hours of the camp will be spent creating digital stories about personally meaningful faith experiences and sharing them with one another. The afternoon hours will include site visits to different places of worship and discussion of interfaith principles and practices. On the final afternoon of the camp, we will screen all the stories for the general public (8/18, 3pm, location TBD).

The camp is, above all, an opportunity to share one’s own religion with others and learn about some of the other religions that are practiced in the greater Des Moines area.  Beyond that, it is an opportunity to learn about the principles and practices of interfaith understanding and dialogue, and by doing so, to become interfaith youth leaders.

Campers will receive a $500 honorarium, a copy of Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Leadership, and breakfast and lunch each day.

For more information, please contact The Comparison Project’s director, Tim Knepper.

8/12 Meet My Religious Neighbor: Sikhs of Iowa Khalsa Heritage, Inc.


“Meet My Religious Neighbor” continues on Saturday, August 12th with an open house at the Sikh Temple in Johnston, Sikhs of Iowa Khalsa Heritage, Inc. (SIKHI). The open house will last from 10am until 1pm.

From 10am – 12pm visitors can tour the Temple and learn about Sikh beliefs, practices, and culture. From 12pm – 1pm visitors can join the members of the Temple for their congregational prayer (aardas) and meal (langar). The meal is free vegetarian meal that is served to all regardless of caste, class, or creed.

Visitors are advised to dress modestly and bring a head covering (scarves for women, kerchiefs for men). There are some kerchiefs and scarves available at the Temple.

SIKHI is located at 4820 NW 59th Ave in Johnston.

7/2 Meet My Religious Neighbor: Tu Vien Hong Duc (Vietnamese Buddhism)


Join us on Sunday, July 2nd between 12:30 – 4:00 pm for the next open house in our Meet My Religious Neighbor series. This open house will be held at Tu Vien Hong Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist temple at 5906 SW 9th Street in Des Moines.

The open house begins at 12:30 with a Vietnamese meal. After that, we will have an opportunity to tour the temple and its statue park and to talk to the temple’s head monk. Participants are then invited to remain for the dharma talk (“sermon”) at 2:00 and chanting meditation at 3:00.