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February 5, 2013

BEAM: An opportunity that’s come full circle


Last Thursday, I underwent a small pilgrimage of my own when I traveled around the southern part of the state in search of more knowledge about the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan homeland. My journey first took me to Franklin College in Franklin, Ind., where I met with Dr. David Carlson, professor of philosophy and religion, Rev. David Weatherspoon, the campus minister and Lisa Morrison, the Director of Media and Public Relations for the Dalai Lama Louisville. 

Franklin College is a small school with a big vision. Under the guidance of Carlson and Weatherspoon, the students and staff at Franklin hope to promote a better understanding between people of different cultures and faiths. 

In 2011, the college hosted a group of Buddhist monks who painstakingly constructed an intricate sand mandala. Carlson described how the students’ interest and attitudes changed during the short time it took to construct the circle. 

Learning about other religions doesn’t make you less of a Christian, he said. It only serves to reinforce the reasons you believe the way you do to begin with. As the Dalai Lama’s visit grows nearer, we’ll explore some of these interfaith initiatives both at Franklin and throughout Indiana in more detail.

After spending the afternoon in Franklin, I followed Morrison to Bloomington for a tour of the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, one of the most influential monasteries in America. While she’s normally promoting the center to the press, Morrison’s life and involvement with Buddhism is a story in and of itself. 

How did a Christian girl living in the Hoosier heartland end up as the event PR person for one of the most recognizable religious leaders in the world? Good question. More intriguing still is why she refuses to be paid for all her hard work and insists on volunteering all those countless hours. We’ll learn all about Morrison in a later writing.

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