William Storrar, Director,
Center of Theological Inquiry
Spiritual Progress is a theme that was central to Sir John Templeton, but one that has not yet been explored in depth by his Foundation and is extremely contrarian in theology and philosophy. In response to an invitation to develop a centenary initiative on the theme, the Center for Theological Inquiry (CTI) believes the time is right to bring Sir John's idea back to the fore of theological scholarship. CTI therefore proposes a project to launch a new theological and interdisciplinary conversation on spiritual progress. Key elements of this project are: 1. CTI Forum for Fresh Thinking on Spiritual Progress: A major international symposium by invitation and a high profile broadcast public event in October, 2012 in Philadelphia as part of the JTF anniversary year, made possible by a JTF planning grant. 2. Opening plenary session honoring Sir John's legacy and thinking on spiritual progress. 3. Symposium panel discussions of 4 major books on science and religion with the authors, as the context for raising the big questions on spiritual progress with Jonathan Sacks, Marilynne Robinson, Robert Bellah, David Fergusson, 20 invited scholars, religious leaders and opinion formers, and observers from JTF, media, etc. 4. Concluding plenary session led by Robin Lovin, reflecting on insights gained from the symposium for new research agenda and future initiatives. 5. Public broadcast event chaired by broadcaster Krista Tippett, interviewing Jonathan Sacks, Marilynne Robinson, and the Dalai Lama (tbc) on the theme of spiritual progress in 21st C. 6. Outputs will include the symposium, public broadcast event, webcast of symposium, and CTI website coverage of the forum. 7. Outcomes will include: pre- and post-event online survey of views of symposium invitees; metrics on public event, webcast and public radio broadcast audiences. 8. The enduring impact will be a new public conversation and set of research initiatives on spiritual progress.