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Dialogue in a World of Difference
A required course for all students enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program. Students and faculty in a collegial setting will explore in depth the principles and the practice of dialogue in a pluralistic world through dialogical listening and cross-cultural conversations in a context of diversity. Goals of the course include the development of listening and communication skills in multi-cultural contexts; fostering an understanding of one another through information sharing and community building action; and learning how to discuss potentially divisive issues constructively and without animosity. This course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.
Tuesdays, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., beginning September 6 (15 weeks)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Students and faculty in a collegial setting will learn about the practice and models of interfaith dialogue; be introduced to critical substantive issues related to interfaith relations in today’s globalized context; and appreciatively encounter the diversity of Hartford Seminary’s student body through an ongoing experience of dialogical listening and conversation.
UNDERLYING COURSE ASSUMPTION: This is more than a course about dialogue.
It is an invitation to engage in the practice of dialogue in a structured setting and thereby to develop the appreciative capacities that, among other things, will enable you to take maximum advantage of the diversity of students you will have in classes throughout your Hartford Seminary experience. Course outcomes focus on what is learned in the process.
- A sense of collegiality and community across religious, cultural, gender lines
- An experientially grounded understanding of the principles of interfaith dialogue
- The ability to participate meaningfully and constructively in multi-cultural and interfaith conversations and learning
- The critical, intellectual capacity to address substantive issues from a dialogically appreciate perspective
- Familiarity with a spectrum of Hartford Seminary faculty
- Complete assigned reading in preparation for the class session for which it is assigned
- Participate fully in class discussions and activities. Timely and regular attendance is especially important, as is familiarity with the assigned reading
The nature and quality of classroom discussion is critical. Expectations include:
- Sharing openly and respectfully
- Empathetic listening (listening with an intention of hearing and understanding the others’ perspectives)
- Creating and sustaining a safe space for open and beneficial conversations, including respecting the confidentiality of what is said in class and posted on the online discussion board!
- Attend and observe two worship services, first a worship at your regular place of worship in the U.S., and second, a worship in a faith tradition other than your own.
- Timely submission of one’s reflection and worship papers.
ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendance at all ten class sessions is expected. If, for any reason, a student can not attend a session, notice should be given to the instructors as early as possible, so that any appropriate make-up experiences can be assigned."
THE GRADE FOR THE COURSE WILL BE PASS OR FAIL
Session One: September 6—Why Dialogue? Why Me?
Heidi Hadsell—Introduction to Interfaith Dialogue in a Global Context
Yehezkel Landau—The Benefits and Risks of Interfaith Engagement
Readings: Ariarajah, Not Without My Neighbor (chapters 1 and 2)
Swidler, “The Dialogue Decalogue” (handout)
Smith, Muslims, Christians, and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue
(chapters 1 and 5)
Magonet, Talking to the Other: Jewish Interfaith Dialogue with Christians
and Muslims (chapters 2 and 8)
Session Two: September 13—Engaging the “Other” with our Multiple Identities
Yehezkel Landau and Heidi Hadsell, conveners and facilitators
Readings: Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other
Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (chapters 2 & 4)
Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference (prologue and chapters 10 & 11)
Session Three: September 20—Observational Skills for Dialogue
Guest faculty: Scott Thumma—How to be a participant
observer at another faith community’s worship
Readings: (Read these descriptive chapters as observational visits into the worship and congregational realities of other faiths rather than for informational content.)
Community in a Black Pentecostal Church: An Anthropological Study, Melvin D. Williams pp. 82-108
Synagogue Life: A Study in Symbolic Interaction, Samuel C. Heilman pp. 25-62
Without Forgetting the Imam: Lebanese Shi'ism in an American Community, Linda S Walbridge, pp. 97-127
Ariarajah, Not Without My Neighbor (chapters 3 and 7)
Session Four: September 27—Scripture and Dialogue – Christians & Jews
Guest faculty: Ed Waggoner
Readings: "How Do Jews and Christians Read the Bible?" by Amy Grossblat Pessah, Kenneth J. Meyers, and Christopher M. Leighton, in David Fox Sandmel, Rosann M. Catalano, and Christopher M. Leighton, eds., Irreconcilable Differences? A Learning Resource for Jews and Christians (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001), 53-74.
"Theologians' Decisions About Scripture," by David H. Kelsey, in his book, Proving Doctrine: The Uses of Scripture in Modern Theology (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999), 158-178.
“Grassroots Scriptural Reasoning on Campus," by Peter Ochs and Homayra Ziad, as found at www.irdialogue.org
If students have time, they are also encouraged to read:
"An Interfaith Wisdom: Scriptural Reasoning between Jews, Christians, and Muslims," by David F. Ford, in David F. Ford and C.C. Pecknold, eds., The Promise of Scriptural Reasoning (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006), 1-20.
Session Five: October 4—The Koran and Its Interpreters
Guest faculty: Mahmoud Ayoub
Readings: Ayoub, The Qur’an and Its Interpreters, Vol. 1
Genesis 37-50 and Sura 12 (Yusuf) of the Qur’an
The Student Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 2006),
35 pages online at
1st Paper Due: How do I make sense of a diversity of faith traditions, and how
does this relate to my engagement of the religious other?
Session Six: October 11—Islam & Interfaith Relations
Session Seven: October 18—Christianity & Interfaith Relations
Guest Faculty: Lucinda Mosher
Readings: Berthrong, John H. “Where is the Truth Blended in the Pudding?” in The Divine Deli: Religious Identity in the North American Cultural Mosaic. Orbis, 1999, 47-69.
Lyden, John. “Chapter 2: What Should One Think About Religions Other than One’s Own?” in Enduring Issues in Religion, edited by John Lyden. (Consists of short articles by Fernando, Rahner, Hick, Cobb.)
Michel, Thomas F., S. J. “Interfaith Dialogue: A Catholic Christian Perspective” and “Creating a Culture of Dialogue: Toward a Pedagogy of Religious Encounter” in A Christian View of Islam: Essays on Dialogue by Thomas F. Michel, S.J., edited by Irfan A. Omar. Orbis, 2010.
Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. “Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism: The Tripolar Typology—Clarified and Reaffirmed” and Knitter, Paul F. “Is the Pluralist Model a Western Imposition? A Response in Five Voices” in The Myth of Religious Superiority: Multifaith Explorations of Religious Pluralism, edited by Paul F. Knitter. Orbis, 2005.
Session Eight: October 25—Judaism and Interfaith Relations
Yehezkel Landau, convener and facilitator
Reading: Magonet, Talking to the Other: Jewish Interfaith Dialogue with Christians
and Muslims (chapters 2 and 8)
Yehezkel Landau and Yahya Hendi, Jews, Muslims and Peace
Yehezkel Landau, God as a Multiple Covenanter: Toward a Jewish Theology of Abrahamic Partnerships
Session Nine: November 1—Communitarian & Universalist Ethics
Heidi Hadsell convener.
Reading: Walzer, Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad (chs. 1 & 5)
Session Ten: November 8—Nigeria
Film and student contribution
Session 11: November 15 – Skills in Dialogue
Guest Faculty – Rev. Dr. Robert A. Evans, Executive Director, Plowshares Institute
Alice Frazer Evans, Director of Writing and Research, Plowshares Institute
Readings: Kraybill, Evans, Evans – Peace Skills for Community Mediators, chapters 11-12
Evans, Evans, Kraybill – How to Read a Case Study & Case Study “Giving Thanks”
2nd Paper Due: What does my faith tradition teach about ethical obligations to those within my tradition, and to those beyond my tradition?
Session 12: November 29 – Dialogue in Hartford
Guest Faculty – Reverend Edwin Ayala, Associate Director, Christian Activities Council
Reverend Charles Turner, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church
Session 13: December 6 – Models in Dialogue: International & Local
Guest Lecturer – Ingrid Mattson
Reading: as many documents as possible from http://www.acommonword.com
Session 14: December 13 – Religious Traditions in Dialogue with the Secular World
Watch the film, “Arranged”
Session 15: December 20 – Wrap-up
- ½ worship debrief in small groups
- ½ closing conversation
3rd Paper Due: Reflection on worship observations in your tradition and in another tradition
4th and Final Paper Due (January 6th): What lessons in this course would you apply in your life and work? What questions do you still find challenge you?
COURSE READING: Primary course readings will consist of papers, book chapters and excerpts assigned by guest faculty for their respective sessions. These will either be handed out at the previous class, be available online, or be made available to be copied in the library reserve section. Additionally, students should purchase the following books, to be read in the order listed:
S. Wesley Ariarajah, Not Without My Neighbor: Issues in Interfaith Relations, WCC Publications, 1999, ISBN 2-8254-1308-9
Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other, Verso Books, 2008, ISBN-13 978-1-84467-328-5
Reza Shah-Kazemi, The Other in the Light of the One: The Universality of the Qur'an and Interfaith Dialogue, The Islamic Texts Society, 2006, ISBN-13 978-1-903682-47-0
We will be reading chapters from the following book, which students may purchase if they prefer having a book to an online copy of selective material: Jane Smith, Muslims, Christians, and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue (Oxford Univ Press, 2007).
Assigned reading should be read prior to and in preparation for
the class session for which it is assigned