Virginia Gray Henry-Blakemore
Mrs. Virginia Gray Henry-Blakemore is the director of the interfaith publishing houses, Fons Vitae and Quinta Essentia, in Louisville, Kentucky, devoted to world spirituality. She is a writer and film producer under contract with the Book Foundation, and co-founder and trustee of the Islamic Texts Society of Cambridge, England. She has served as a contributing editor for Parabola magazine for over a decade. Besides having taught filmmaking at Dalton and Fordham University and world religions and art history at the Cairo American College, Cambridge University, Centre College and the Abbey of Gethsemane, she regularly lectures at such noteworthy venues as the 1995 Conference of World Spiritual Art in Tehran and most recently the September 2006 Congress on Islamic Spirituality in Singapore. In 1994 she arranged for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to speak in Louisville, and has in April 2006 organized the Dalai Lama interfaith congress in San Francisco in which the his main focus was to meet with Muslim dignitaries from the world over. Fons Vitae is now helping to arrange His Holiness’s visit December 2006 to Senegal and Ghana, which will continue the Buddhist-Muslim dialogue begun in San Francisco.
Gray is a founding member of the Thomas Merton Center Foundation and has organized a number of conferences focused on the work of Thomas Merton at Bellarmine University. She worked in Bosnian refugee camps in 1993, and subsequently published texts for their school system. Fons Vitae plays a key role in the annual interfaith festivals and programs sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Relations and Interfaith Paths to Peace Institute.
As a filmmaker, she produced Beads of Faith: The Universal Use of the Rosary, which is available both as a book and a video, Islam: A Pictorial Essay; Cairo: 1,001 Years of Art and Architecture; Ornaments of Lhasa: Islam in Tibet; and The Sacred Unconscious (Huston Smith). As an author she has written the classic, Understanding Islam and the Muslims, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, articles for the “Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series” (Merton & Sufism, Merton & Hesychasm, and Merton & Buddhism), as well as for Parabola and other journals.
Mrs. Henry received her B.A. at Sarah Lawrence College (Joseph Campbell was her don 1965, studied at the American and al-Azhar University in Cairo (1969-79), earned her M.A. in Education at the University of Michigan, was a research fellow at Cambridge University from 1983-1990, and is scheduled to receive her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Divinity at Canterbury, Kent in 2008.