Arts and Culture

Bluegrass music, Zen calligraphy, spoken word poetry and local leaders talking about how their faith informs their work: those events and more will be part of a preview Saturday of the 2016 Festival of Faiths.

Last year’s festival celebrated the 100th birthday of Thomas Merton, the noted Catholic monk and writer with a deep connection to Louisville. The Center for Interfaith Relations, which produces the festival,  has decided to make the Merton celebration an annual event.

Saturday morning at the Brown Theatre, Merton will be honored with a free event that serves as a “tasting” of the festival to come in May.

The theme of the 2016 festival is “Sacred Wisdom: Pathways to Nonviolence,” and four speakers have been asked to prepare short, TED-style talks on that theme.

“We’ve invited a panel of local Kentuckians to reflect on their own sacred wisdom, their own personal journeys that inform the work they’re called to do,” said Halida Hatic, a spokeswoman for the Center for Interfaith Relations.

The speakers include U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds, philanthropist Christie Lee Brown, and Rabbi Nadia Siritsky of KentuckyOne Health.

“We’ll have local voices talking about the same topics, and then in May, we’ll be bringing in global faith leaders and thinkers to explore these issues and these topics in more detail,” Hatic said.

A group of young adults has been invited to ask questions of the speakers after their talks. The conversation will be moderated by local television personality Jean West.

In addition to the talks, there will be bluegrass music from Misty Mountain String Band and spoken word poetry from local poet Hannah Drake.

The visual symbol of this year’s festival is the “enso,” a Zen circle made with a brush and ink. Zen Master Dae Gak, abbott of Furnace Mountain Zen Center in Eastern Kentucky, will demonstrate how to draw the enso.

The event at 9:30 a.m. Saturday is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to RSVP. More information is available here.

Tara Anderson is a contributing editor for WFPL News, and the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the physical objects that tell our stories.