Eck, Diana L. 1945-
ECK, Diana L. 1945-
PERSONAL: Born July 5, 1945, in Tacoma, WA; daughter of Hugo G. (an architect) and Dorothy (a state senator; maiden name, Fritz) Eck. Education: Attended Banaras University, 1965-66 and 1973-74; Smith College, B.A., 1967; University of London, M.A., 1968; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1976. Religion: Methodist.
ADDRESSES: Home—Somerville, MA. Office—Department of Religion, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.
CAREER: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor, 1977-81, associate professor of religion, 1981—. Master of Lowell House; director of the Pluralism Project. Member of World Council of Churches group on dialogues with people of living faiths and ideologies.
Banaras: City of Light, Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.
(Editor, with Devaki Jain) Speaking of Faith: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women, Religion, and Social Change, Women's Press (New York, NY), 1986.
(Editor, with Francoise Mallison) Devotion Devine: Bhakti Traditions from the Regions of India: Studies in Honour of Charlotte Vaudeville, E. Forsten (Groningen, Netherlands), 1991.
Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1993, published with a new preface, 2003.
(Author of foreword) The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893, Open Court, 1993.
A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Diana L. Eck is a professor of comparative religion at Harvard University who has established herself as one of the foremost scholars on the subject of religious diversity. Eck, who was raised in the Methodist faith and continues to practice it, is outspoken in her advocacy for dialog between religious traditions. She told the story of her own journey of religious discovery in Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. Her childhood was spent in a relatively homogeneous religious environment, and her spirituality was later enhanced by studies and travels in India. Encountering God examines the differences between religious cultures and promotes a greater understanding of all religions, in the hope of contributing "richness and diversity" to the American culture, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Lawrence S. Cunningham, a writer for Commonweal, stated that Eck's book "is quite simply wonderful," and noted that the author "possesses a crisp prose style that makes her study accessible to any intelligent reader. It is a profoundly ecumenical work. I highly recommend it." Eck was also widely hailed for her work on a CD-ROM titled On Common Ground: World Religions in America. Created in conjunction with the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, it describes religious populations and traditions in the United States and looks at the ways in which religious diversity has an impact on social and legal issues.
In A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation, Eck traced the changing demographics of religion in the United States, particularly the increase in Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim citizens. Eck demonstrates that an embrace of pluralism is essential to maintain stability in a country with so many diverse cultures in co-existence. James F. DeRoche, a reviewer for Library Journal, called it "well written and thorough," and added that "this volume will appeal especially to scholars, but casual readers will find much to enlighten them." The author emphasizes the notion that diversity and pluralism are not the same thing; as a nation, the United States is already diverse, but pluralism is something that must be cultivated. "At the risk of sounding like a publicity blurb, I proclaim that Diana Eck's new book should be required reading for clergy, seminary students, religious professionals and government and business leaders," proclaimed Christian Century reviewer Charles Kimball in his assessment of A New Religious America. John Green wrote in Booklist that A New Religious America is "immensely readable" and "an important book in the field of contemporary American religion."
Eck once told CA: "I am especially interested in pilgrimage and the religious life, and the living importance of pilgrimage and sacred geography in the world's religions today."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, November 19, 2001, Francis X. Clooney, review of A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation, p. 21.
Booklist, June 1, 2001, John Green, review of A New Religious America, p. 1803.
Books & Culture, May, 2002, Philip Jenkins, "Here for Good: Religion and the New Immigrants," p. 12.
Capital Times, Mary Bergin, "Religion: Issue of the Century?," p. 1D.
Christian Century, March 9, 1994, Houston Smith, review of Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, p. 252; October 10, 2001, Charles Kimball, review of A New Religious America, p. 33.
Chronicle of Higher Education, June 9, 1995, Carolyn J. Mooney, "America's Many Religions: A Harvard Scholar Maps the Country's Changing Religious Landscape," p. A10; February 8, 2002, review of A New Religious America, p. B7.
Commentary, September, 2001, Naomi Schaefer, review of A New Religious America, p. 73.
Commonweal, January 14, 1994, Lawrence S. Cunningham, review of Encountering God, p. 42.
Cross Currents, winter, 1994, Eileen Fane, review of Encountering God, p. 531.
Dallas Morning News, June 4, 2001, Jeffrey Weiss, "Living with Many Religions Poses Challenge, Scholar Says."
Journal of Religion, October, 1994, Mathew N. Schmalz, review of Encountering God, p. 592.
Library Journal, September 1, 1993, Carolyn Craft, review of Encountering God, p. 190; August, 2001, James F. DeRoche, review of A New Religious America, p. 117.
Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1982, July 7, 2001, p. B16.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 1993, review of Encountering God, p. 60; November 16, 1998, Kimberly Winston, "Diana Eck," p. S27; May 28, 2001, review of A New Religious America, p. 82.
Reference & User Services Quarterly, summer, 1998, Mark D. Grover, review of On Common Ground: World Religions in America, p. 338.
Sojourners, May-June, 2002, review of On Common Ground, p. 50.
U.S. Catholic, September, 2001, "One Nation under … Which God?," p. 20.
Wall Street Journal, August 2, 1982, June 20, 2001, p. A16.
Washington Post Book World, May 30, 1982.
Winston-Salem Journal February 22, 2003, "We Are As One," p. B7.
Women's Review of Books, March, 1994, Irene Elizabeth Stroud, review of Encountering God, p. 24.*