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One in a series of events and special screenings presented at the Paley Center for Media. Held at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. and streamed live at the Paley Center in New York, this two-day event is an independently-organized extension of the TED conference series, celebrating innovative, progressive women and their actions. The second session focuses on the ideas of faith and scientific fact and the many areas in which they come together. Theologian and eco-feminist Hyun Kung Chung opens the session by directing the audience in a short meditation, then speaking about the "in-between space" of fact and belief, explaining that her native country of Korea has been called "the axis of evil" and wondering how an entire nation of people could be generalized in such a way. She details the "anatomy of terrorism," which consists of "otherization, demonization and elimination," and expresses the need for more peaceful co-existence and open communication.

Host Pat Mitchell (president and CEO, The Paley Center for Media) joins Chung onstage and then introduces "radical nun" and author Sister Joan Chittister, who takes the stage and discusses the way in which the second-class status of women throughout the world has religious undertones, as the Judeo-Christian creation myth places man closer to God. She states that society is currently in a "crossover moment" thanks to Darwinism and new understandings of evolution and biology, and that these facts challenge the faith-based idea of life as a "pyramid" with a patriarchal God at the top. She instead suggests that God "allows life to work itself out" and that creation is a work in progress, adding that humans, not God, create evil. She argues that failure is a learning opportunity and that we are experiencing a "new Galileo moment," pointing out that there is no "natural" male hierarchy in science.

Mitchell talks briefly with Chittister about her decision to stay with the Catholic Church despite its limited views of feminism and science, and then introduces Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, and he takes the stage and discusses his own evolving sense of faith, influenced in his childhood by his grandmother's visits from India. Though religion was largely irrelevant to his early life, his perception changed when he began observing examples of social inequality and discovered the work of Dorothy Day, a Catholic activist committed to the idea of distributism. He got involved with Day's Catholic Worker movement and began volunteering at her "house of hospitality." He then observed his own grandmother taking in and sheltering abused girls, and had a revelation of sorts, noticing many parallels between Day's views and concepts in the Koran as well as in other faiths, then creating his own organization to foster "bridges of cooperation" and mobilize interfaith leaders.

Mitchell next introduces social activist/filmmaker/publisher Archana Kapoor, security expert Arshi Saleem Hashmi and activist/counter-terrorism expert Edit Schlaffer, who discuss their work with the Sisters Against Violent Extremism group, explaining that they first met in November 2008, right around the time that Mumbai was attacked by Islamic terrorists from Pakistan. They recall their memories of the attacks, including the experience of learning of the deaths of friends, and explain their decision to avoid "the blame game" and instead unite women from both sides in a constructive manner. They detail the challenges of uniting in Mumbai, in the very spot that was previously attacked, and explain how the nerve-wracking experience ultimately led to a transition "from victimhood to agency," also adding a story about nurses in a nearby hospital who worked hard to save the lives of new mothers and babies during the attacks. Schlaffer concludes that their efforts prove the potential of women in aiding and affecting the "security paradigm."

Mitchell joins the group and asks about Schlaffer's efforts to unite the mother of a 9/11 victim with the mother of one of the terrorists, and she reports that the meeting was productive. Mitchell then introduces quantum physicist/transcendental meditation expert John Hagelin, and he takes the stage to explain how transcendental meditation can be used as a tool for health, stress reduction and education. He details how meditation draws attention to "the source of thought" and helps one find a sense of unity within, explaining how physiological rest diffuses deep-seated tension and lowers blood pressure, which reduces one's risk for heart disease. He also explains how meditation improves integrated brain function, called EEG Coherence, noting that stress shuts down the brain in a way that is incompatible with learning. He notes that many schools are using meditation to help its students, and that it is also helps in reducing post-traumatic stress symptoms in veterans. He details how an overstimulation of the "fear center" of the brain leads to a perpetual state of "flight or fight," adding that females' experiences with war are frequently exacerbated by sexual trauma. In a clip, various women and girls from around the world describe their harrowing experiences in a war-torn zone, explaining how meditation eased their anxiety.

Finally, Radmilla Cody takes the stage and performs a spoken-word poem, touching upon the topics of women's life experience and the themes of the Navajo culture's faith, and then performs a song, "A Beautiful Dawn." Mitchell then closes the session by thanking various associates and corporate partners.


  • DATE: December 1, 2012 8:30 AM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:30:36
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 109278
  • GENRE: Seminars


  • Pat Mitchell … Host
  • Radmilla Cody … Guest, Performer
  • Hyun Kyung Chung … Guest
  • Joan Chittister … Guest
  • Eboo Patel … Guest
  • Edit Schlaffer … Guest
  • Archana Kapoor … Guest
  • Arshi Saleem Hashmi … Guest
  • John Hagelin … Guest
  • Dorothy Day
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