What did it mean for the newly emerging Christian Science church to be part of a pioneering interfaith conference at Chicago’s glittering Columbian Exposition in 1893? Listen to a conversation with Dr. Richard Seager, author of The World’s Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago, 1893. The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s Megan Peno joins him to discuss what the World’s Parliament of Religions revealed about both the challenges and possibilities for dialogue among global faiths. The Parliament brought together an unprecedented gathering of religious  traditions from both inside and outside the Judeo-Christian fold. For Christian Scientists, the conference was at the same time an exciting and complicated experience. For Mary Baker Eddy, it raised concerns about mixing spirituality with the opulence of a massive world’s fair.

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Podcast guest

Dr. Richard SeagerDr. Richard Seager has primarily devoted his lectures and published works to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions and its aftermath, as well as to the movement of Asian religions into the United States. He is the author of The World’s Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago, 1893, in addition to other titles. Seager has taught at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Harvard University, and Hamilton College. He received a PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University, where his research explored the modern West and the United States, with an emphasis on the long history of the East/West encounter. He has retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he spends much of his time camping, day tripping, and reading scholarship just for fun.

Megan Peno has worked as a researcher at The Mary Baker Eddy Library since May 2021. She holds master’s degrees in history and in Library and Information Science from Simmons University in Boston, and bachelor’s degrees in history and secondary education from Regis College. She is also the author of “Christian Science at the World’s Parliament of Religions,” part of the Library’s “From the Collections” article series.


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