Pari Center for New Learning: Report on the year 2004

2004 was an active year for the Pari Center with conferences, course/workshops and visitors. In February representatives of the Center traveled to the University of Cork for the founding meeting of ETHOS – an international consortium of researchers and universities interested in notions of governance and civil society, as well as the possible applications of approaches from complexity and chaos theory. The Pari Center is now a member of this consortium.

In July the Center sent a representative to attend a conference on “Art, Science and Spirituality” held in the town of Melilla, a part of Spain located in Morocco.

A Pari Center representative was also present at the launching of the European SPES Forum. (SPES standing for Spirituality in Economic and Social Life.) The Forum had its origins in discussions involving universities and centers in Belgium, Holland and Hungary. The Pari Center is now a founding member of this organization.

Members of the Center were also invited to visit the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo and returned the favor by having the director, Prof George Coyne SJ, to speak at Pari.

Our roundtable on Publishing led to the launching of the Science WorkBooks series, the first examples of which are now on our website. It also encouraged the creation of Pari Publishing, the first of its books to appear in June 2005.

The Conference/Roundtable “ The Next Horizon: Re-examining Deep Values in Religion & Science ” saw a number of active and productive discussions. We were also happy to host Eric Weislogel from the Metanexus Institute and learn of his vision for an extended LSI network. A report of this conference can be found on our website.

In addition to our regular course/workshops on “New Science/New Paradigms” and “Synchronicity: The Bridge between Matter and Mind” we launched a new program “Art, Science and the Sacred” which ranged across such topics as sacred art, and attempts of artists to express the sublime and transcendent, the nature of truth and beauty in art and science, sacred space, views on the origin of the universe, the nature of music and its connection with matter and spirit. We were also fortunate to have an international actor, Jack Klaff, present a day of activities on sacred theatre. As a new course, we all found it an exciting experience and it is to be offered in October 2005.

In addition to courses in English, Shantena Sabbadini ran a weekend on the I Ching in Italian and later in the year Shantena and David offered a weekend on “Nuovi Paradigmi,” also in Italian. Additional courses in Italian are planned for 2005.

The Center also saw a large number of visitors staying for anything from a week to several months. In particular Arnold Smith, who had visited during 2004, returned as a permanent resident of Pari and an Associate Director of the Center. The other Associate Director is Shantena Sabbadini. Jacqueline Mullen, who had first visited Pari in 2001 to attend a conference on Chaos Theory in the context of social, economic and organizational development, also returned as a permanent resident.

Other visitors included an artist from Dublin, Ros Murray, who spent time making drawings but also looking out of the window on the first floor of the Palazzo at the fields, vines, olive groves and cypress trees while listening to the church bell tolling at regular intervals. This resulted in an installation piece “Bell/Campana” in which leaves, twigs, flowers, seeds and paper were used to recreate the landscape around Pari.

Additional visitors included Sharon Coeurvie, the Jungian analysts Remo Roth, Ann Morley and Veronica Goodchild. The author, Alison MacLeod, who had just completed her latest novel for Penguin encouraged us to pursue the Pari Publishing venture. Eric Weislogel visited from Metanexus for interesting discussions on the whole future of the religion and science debate. Johnna MacArthur arrived to begin a photographic project involving “all the people I know” and took portraits of Maureen, David, Eleanor and Andrea and the grandchildren. Jan and Phyllis Updike, who had been instrumental in our Unlimited Love conference of 2003, also paid a return visit. Mary Flanagan, who is secretary to “Friends of the Pari Center” in the US, also dropped in for discussions. Jan Diederen, a Dutch film producer visited to propose a film on “Synchronicity”. An old friend of David’s, Paul Buckley, came during Pari’s Sagra (the main festival of the year). Together Paul and David had made several radio documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including a series of twenty one-hour documentaries “Physics and Beyond” in which many of the worlds leading physicists were interviewed. Kevin Brimble arrived in November. Our final longer-term visitor of the year was Alice Davidson. Then just after Christmas, Philip Franes arrived on a return visit, followed by Wanda Hurren who will be here for three months to work on a project about “place”. In addition to our visitors, Janet Roberts spent two and a half months in Pari working as a volunteer in the office. She helped us get out e-mail system into shape and presented us with a report on the organization of the center. Thank you Janet!

We apologize if we have inadvertently left out any names, but it has certainly been a busy year.