1995 – Diana L. Eck

An author who interpreted her experiences as a Christian encountering God through dialogue with other major world religions has earned the 1995 award. The award is given jointly by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville.

Diana L. Eck, a Harvard University professor of comparative religion and Indian studies, won for her 1993 book Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras.

Eck’s book expresses her conviction that Christians and people of other religious traditions would gain much from respectfully listening to and learning from each other, even as they maintain their own religious identities.

“In her persuasive style, 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, the director of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Other religious experts cite the book’s portrait of American society that has become dramatically more religiously diverse. Eck examines in detail the question “How can we live in loyalty to our own deepest convictions in this increasingly heterogenous environment?”

Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras also explores the concepts of God, incarnation and spirit and shows how world religious traditions can shape, strengthen and influence Christian theological reflection. Eck has served at Harvard since earning her 1976 doctorate and is also a member of the divinity faculty. She is chair of Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Recently she has headed a research team exploring the new religious diversity of the United States.