Prof. George M Williams

All Life is Sacred

__George M. Williams was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1972, specializing in religion in modern India. Williams taught one year at Newton College of the Sacred Heart, Boston, before going to California State University, Chico, in the fall of 1972, joining their newly formed Department of Religious Studies.
__His major interest for the past two decades has been in religions that liberate and in liberal religion. This interest has been furthered in the International Association for Religious Freedom and has led to two honorary doctorates: in May 1994 Starr King School for the Ministry awarded Prof. Williams with the Litterarum Humanarum Doctor and in October, 1996, Williams was presented the award of Doctor Honoris Causa from the United Protestant Theological School of Cluj [Kolozsvar], Romania.
__A specialist on Svâmî Vivekânanda and the Hindu Renaissance, Williams helped found the section on Hinduism in the American Academy of Religion. He also served on the Electronic Publishing Committee of the academy and was its projects director for a number of years. In both 1997 and 1998 Williams held the Shree Muherjee Chair at National Institute of Advanced Studies, National Science Campus, Bangalore. While there he worked on projects involving preservation, digital archiving, translation and preparation of a comprehensive database of the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts. In 1998 he held workshops for archivists and librarians from all over India on use of the internet for research and publication, CD ROM publication, and digital archiving.
__In 2001 Williams completed a two year project: the digitizing and archiving of the works of Raja Rammohan Roy, the great reformer of Hinduism and the founder of the Brahmo Samaj. His goal is to finish a number of books and vidoes that will advance the notions of liberating spirituality.
__Williams has worked for nearly two decades on understanding liberal Buddhist and Shinto groups in Japan, traveling there over twenty times and producing one 16mm film on "The Bodhisattva Way of Peace: Lay Buddhism in Japan," two more videos on Japanese Buddhism, a videotape on “Shinichiro Imaoka: Emerson of Japan," and a video series on Shinto rituals and practices (learning modules for the classroom). He worked with Rev. Shigeru Handa of Nagoya, on a Shinto digital dictionary--a 500 megabyte, color, multimedia CD ROM learning program, which was the first electronic publication of Scholars Press of the American Academy of Religion. He is a member of the committee on electronic publication for the American Academy of Religion. He was part of the editorial team that helped publish in English Rev. Yukitaka Yamamoto’s book, Kami no Michi (Way of the Kami) in 1987. The American Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) presented its 1989 Distinguished Service Award to Williams for his contributions toward interreligious cooperation and understanding. During that period he lectured and presented different mediated programs on liberal religion in India and Japan at numerous IARF congresses. Williams has been active in Collegium, the association for the study of liberal religion, having been its chair, 1989-1991, as well as the chair of the history section.
__He has given guest lectures at a number of universities and seminaries in the U.S. (including Harvard), in Canada (including McGill University, Montreal, as a Distinguished Scholar), India, Japan, Hungary and Romania. He has lectured on liberal religion before religious groups, such as the keynote address on Swami Vivekânanda and the activity of the Ramakrishna Mission in the United States at the Vedanta Society's annual retreat near Chicago in August 1988. In 1992 with his wife (Dr. Judit Gellerd as translator) he taught a model course in the academic study of religion at Jozsef Attila University, Szeged, Hungary, which according to the American Academy of Religion, may have been the first non-confessional or non-ideological course in an East European university. He and his wife were invited back for the fall of 1993 to both Szeged and Pecs, another state university in southern Hungary. They have also team taught in Romania at the United Protestant Theological School of Cluj.
__Since retirement from California State University, Chico, Williams has lectured widely on Asian religions; taught twice for Semester at Sea (round-the-world and Pacific Rim voyages); published the Handbook of Hindu Mythology and a monograph on Shinto; held the humanities chair at the National Institute for Advanced Studies in Bangalore, India; and since 2006 served as president of Koa Ike, a Hawaiian foundation for cultural and religious preservation, where he is hanai-ed (adopted) and is introduced there as a kupuna (elder).
In 2019 Williams complete two long-term studies: Cosmic Sage: Imaoka Shin’ichirō, Prophet of Free Religion and Kanenuiakea: Indigenous Hawaiian Faith and Practice (co-authored with Kumu Glen Kila).