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“Why Am I Here?” An Austin Interfaith Event

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On January 19, 2015, members of the Austin interfaith community gathered at the King Seabrook Chapel at Huston-Tillotson University for the discussion: “Why Am I Here? Answers from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism“. The event featured panelists Rabbi Amy Cohen of Temple Beth Shalom, Rev. Dr. Tom Goodman of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Imam Mohamed-Umer Esmail of the Nueces Mosque, and Rev. Dr. David Zuniga, a Zen Buddhist priest, writer, and postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology. The panel moderators were Dr. James Kraft of Huston-Tillotson University and religion journalist Ms. Eileen Flynn. We sat down with each of the participants before the panel to ask a few more questions about their upbringings, education, and spiritual evolutions. We hoped that sharing a few personal details would provide viewers with more context for the discussion. Each of the four panelists spoke briefly from the perspective of their tradition on four questions: Why am I here? (What is the purpose of our lives?) Where am I going (What is the goal/s of life? Heaven? Nirvana? etc.) What helps me get there? (Practices, beliefs etc.) What are obstacles to this path? Then the moderators (Dr. Kraft and Ms. Flynn), as well as the other panelists, followed up with questions to the speaker. After each of the four panelists has spoke and answered questions from the other panelists and moderators, there was a general question and answer session with the entire audience and via the Twitter hashtag #spiritualAustin. We invite you to share your thoughts about the event and add your voice to the conversation by joining us here.

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