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Eck Wins Grawemeyer Award for Recent Book

Professor Will Address Students at University of Louisville

By Alison D. Overholt

Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies Diana L. Eck has received the 1995 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Eck was given the $150,000 prize for her book titled Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras.

Eck said in a press release that her book is "theological in purpose and addresses head-on the questions of religious diversity and the interpretation of religious difference today."

The Grawemeyer Award, which is given jointly by the University of Louisville and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary seeks "to honor and publicize insights into the relationship between human beings and the divine and the ways this relationship may empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity or meaning."

Eck said her book draws from both her personal experiences as a Christian, and from her academic research of other world religions. Her first book, Banaras, City of Light was a study of the sacred city of Banaras, India, and its significance for the Hindus who travel there on religious pilgrimages.

"[In Encountering God] I ask, `what does my encounter with Banaras and with the religious traditions I have studied as a scholar mean to me as a Christian who grew up in Bozeman, Montana?" Eck said.

"I articulate a statement of what I call `transformative engagement' with other faiths as essential to the life of any faith today."

According to her contemporaries, Eck's book is significant in asking the American public to view today's society from a fresh perspective.

"Eck encourages readers toward an 'imagined community' of diverse people, interdependently working to solve mutual, global concerns," said David Hester of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and director of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

"The question of religious diversity is related to, even deeper than, the cultural diversity that is the focus of so much intellectual energy today," Eck said.

Winners of the award are invited to address students and community members of Louisville, Ky.

Eck has been a member of the Harvard faculty since 1976.

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