Welcome to this unique learning opportunity!
I will be teaching this course, along with Christy Lohr, who is just finishing her PhD here at Hartford Seminary which has to do with interfaith dialogue and the theology of religions debate, and who has long considerable national and international experience in interfaith organizations and dialogue.
There will be three class sessions before we leave for Melbourne, several sessions in Melbourne together with the other seminaries participating in this Luce funded program, and one final wrap up session back home.
The four class sessions are:
Session I – September 15th - The Theology of Religions
Modern scholarship addresses such questions of a faith tradition’s relationship to people of other faiths through what has come to be known as the “theology of religions” debate, and there is a significant body of literature and research that has gone into thinking about the nature of God in light of meaningful encounters with people of other faiths. The theology of religions debate brings a theological perspective to issues that arise from interacting with the religious other. This involves exploring the intellectual and practical negotiations that are plausible when encountering someone of another religion. Finally, it is also concerned with questions of maintaining religious integrity and identity in the face of religious diversity.
Reading – The Myth of Christian Uniqueness: Toward a Pluralistic Theology of Religions –
edited by John Hick and Paul F. Knitter
- read Chapter 5 – The Cross and the Rainbow: Christ in a Multireligious Culture,
Stanley J. Samartha
Assignment - In preparation for this session, please write a five page paper to share, on your theology of religion, however initial or fragmented it may be. Please include careful thought and description of what the sources are that have helped you form this theology.
Session II – October 6th - The Wider Institutional Context of Interfaith Dialogue: National and International
You will receive in session one, some documents from organizations like the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches, and so forth, so that you may begin to map the organizations and the history of interfaith dialogue at the national and international level. For this session you will be asked to do some of your own research to share with the others.
Assignment – This will be given to you at the first session.
Session III – November 17th - Particular Issues in Interfaith Dialogue/ Preparations for the Parliament
Every person who engages in interfaith dialogue discovers that there are elements that he or she find most interesting and would like to pursue further. This session is designed to think about some of these elements before the Parliament begins. Sometimes people are interested in issues such as the role of women in faith communities, or the sticky issue of conversion from one faith to another. Others may be more interested in methodological issues, such as the use of scripture in interfaith dialogue, and still others may be most interested in doing things together such as working on global warming challenges than in always just talking to each other. Please think about your special interests and where and how you might follow up on them at the Parliament.
In the next part of the class, we will look together at the program and the other themes and learning opportunities to prepare for the Parliament. Students will be expected to keep a journal during their time at the Parliament, where they should document some of the more meaningful dialogue experiences.
Assignment - Please bring to this session your statement of one or two of the issues you most want to pursue at the Parliament, and perhaps some initial thoughts of how you might do so.
Session IV – December 15th – Follow-up from the Parliament
In this session we will debrief our experiences at the Parliament and think together about how this experience can be used, shared and drawn upon now that the Parliament is over. We will also begin to assess the impact the experiences at the Parliament had on our theologies of religions and the issues we followed more closely.
Assignment - Following the Parliament experience, students should revisit the theologies of religion paper they prepared for the first class. A revised statement that outlines any changes in perceptions or new insights about dialogue should be submitted at this class
Catherine Cornille, The Impossibility of Inter-Religious Dialogue
Paul Knitter, One Earth, Many Religions
Kenneth Cracknell, In Good and Generous Faith
Other readings (including those from perspectives that are not Christian) will be handed out in class or assigned via our course page on SONISWEB.
The books are available on reserve in the library, and for sale in the bookstore.
Please feel free to get in touch with me via email or by phone via my assistant Mary Zeman. Christy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.