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jirs20

Table of Contents, Masthead, List of Board Members, and some words from the Editor-in-Chief.

Challenging the deductive method in interfaith theologies derived from first principles of doctrine, the practices of inter-riting often precede (and transgress) the theoretical assertions of theology. This study centers on three spheres of inter-riting undertaken by “professional” theologians, “exploratory” practitioners of interfaith dialogue, and “pedagogical” sites of interfaith classrooms. Interfaith ritual newly informs theory and theology with respect to concrete practices. As embodied, it also necessarily includes our racialized differences, inviting the fields of interfaith studies and interreligious theology to examine more fully the racial dimension of our discourses.

This article argues that as the emerging field of interfaith studies defines the skills and knowledge base required for students to become public interfaith leaders, it must include the practice of public deliberation and collaborative problem-solving in its curricula. It begins with a delineation of fundamental questions about the place of religion in the public sphere and ways that these questions surface in interfaith studies classrooms. It then describes in detail a developmental, metacognitive pedagogy for engagement in interreligious deliberation at the first-year level. The article concludes with thoughts on how our students may move beyond dyadic thinking about secular and religious reasoning in public deliberation.

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) is better understood as a document about the Catholic Church than about other religions. Nostra Aetate’s most important value is what its assertions mean about the Body of Christ, rather than about those who are not Christian. This does not mean that the Declaration is not a positive asset for interreligious relations. In fact, it is the ecclesiology of Nostra Aetate that can serve as a foundation for a more productive phase of interreligious dialogue and comparative theology in the twenty-first century. Applying the insights of Raimundo Panikkar on Hinduism and Robert Magliola on Buddhism to Nostra Aetate provides an opportunity to broaden the Church’s construction of salvation history. In the twenty-first century, the Catholic Church must try to forge a shared understanding of salvation history with Hindus and Buddhists.

The perception of history plays a key role in interreligious dialogue. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate historical narratives as the context of, and a fundamental challenge to, interreligious dialogue in the Philippines. Different historical narratives have enduring impact on Muslim-Christian relations. Islam and Christianity arrived in the Philippines at different times and in different contexts. It has led to the formation of two distinct nationalities, namely, the Christian Filipinos and the Muslims, living in the Philippines. The concept of colonization dominates their historical relations. Colonization is Christianization for the Christians and de-Islamization for the Muslims. As a result, there exists an “invisible wall” that divides the Muslims and the Christians. This division, under the discourse of colonization, permeates every stratum of relations from socio-cultural and economic to the political and others. Colonization, as the historical context of ethno-religious identities, creates difficulties, challenges, and opportunities in interreligious dialogue. The basic argument of this paper is that history remains an enduring discourse in interreligious dialogue. History cannot be changed. Historical understanding and acceptance are the ways forward; re-reading and forgetting as ways out to improve Muslim and Christian relations is no longer historical. Interreligious dialogue addresses this issue by creating a new landscape of relations based on harmony and diversity, which aims at gradually removing historical biases and division.

In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Quaker author Parker J. Palmer presents five “Habits of the Heart” that “help make democracy possible.”

An understanding that we are all in this together.
An appreciation of the value of “otherness.”
An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
A sense of personal voice and agency.
A capacity to create community.

In the spring of 2015, I used these Habits to frame an integrative undergraduate seminar with a justice theme on the topic of Israel/Palestine. The course was structured to cultivate these Habits and establish interfaith dialogue and community in the class and across campus.

In the context of interfaith engagement, multifaith chaplaincies in college and university settings have a significant impact in determining ways of relating to perceived similarities and differences between diverse religious and philosophical traditions. This reflection first focuses on how feminist theologies and methodologies, along with insights from womanist theo-ethics, can elucidate key conceptual markers of student interfaith programs that seek to be holistic and welcoming, and then moves to identify ways in which these programs can unintentionally reproduce privileges, assumptions, and oppressive perceptions from our social and institutional settings. Finally, we ask whether these observations present a positive critical edge for university chaplaincies and scholarship in the field of interreligious studies, specifically related to the lived experiences of students who identify as LGBTQ and/or as belonging to more than one tradition.

Pain is one of the afflictions of the human conditions that all religions speak to. However, the resources of religious traditions for pain management have largely been sidelined with the availability of chemical forms of pain relief. Sparked by a growing interest in the cultural dimension of medicine, empirical studies over the last decades have shown the positive impact that the factor “religion” can have on pain. Focusing on Christianity and Hinduism but also including more general interreligious discourse, this paper makes the case for a wider interreligious discussion on pain and pain management and presents examples of promising interreligious interaction on the topic.

Greenfaith photoWe are delighted to present this issue on interfaith/multifaith environmental activism and teachings, expertly curated by the Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, a leading interfaith environmental organization. We at the JIRS are grateful to Fletcher, the folks at GreenFaith, and the many contributors to this issue for the wealth of perspectives we are able to share with you here.

A brief introduction to Issue 19 by Sue Fendrick, Editor-in-Chief of the JIRS.

The twenty-four month period leading up to the Paris climate negotiations last December, also known as COP 21, represented, by almost any measure, a high water mark of the religious-environmental movement.   Never before have religious groups around the world within such a concentrated period of time shown such a level of public support for environmental action. This essay represents an effort to chronicle some of this activity and demonstrate the substantial and multi-faceted growth of this movement, and then introduces the other articles and essays in this issue of the Journal of Inter-religious Studies, of which I (on behalf of GreenFaith) serve as guest editor. In doing so, it highlights some of the questions, developmental challenges, and new dimensions of a movement that has steadily emerged from the margins of religious life, to represent an increasingly strong center of gravity for interfaith organizing on a global scale.

This article describes and discusses “Fé no clima: Comunidades religiosas e mudanças climáticas,” an May-September 2015 initiative in Rio de Janeiro. This initiative was organized by a well-established Brazilian NGO, Instituto de Estudos da Religião (ISER), with a history of work on religious diversity and human rights, and Gestão de Interesse Público (GIP), an organization that helps civil society organizations which work on climate change and development projects. Because the religious segment has a substantial influence on the Brazilian government and on everyday life and political ethics, Fé no Clima was created with a strategy of mapping the ongoing climate change debate within this segment and fostering religious engagement with climate issues. It attempted to provide positive answers to challenges articulated in previous ISER initiatives, and established a baseline from which to create a new consensus-based ecological consciousness and support related advocacy within faith communities.

Research consistently shows that public understanding of climate change science is strongly biased by cultural influences--in particular politics, ethnicity, and worldview. Although faith currently has a limited influence on people's views about climate change, it has the potential to generate narratives of concern and action around shared values and identity that can cross these boundaries. This article explores the reasons that climate change is so cognitively challenging and presents our qualitative and quantitative research to identify new faith-based language. This was the first international research to develop and test language that might work in an interfaith context, appealing across all of the world's five main faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Engaged Buddhism, a movement that applies Buddhist teachings and practices to a range of social issues, has produced Buddhist leaders and organizations who have made important contributions to the protection of the environment in Asia, and has elevated the visibility and importance of such efforts in Buddhist communities across Asia and beyond. The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INER) and its Inter-religious Climate and Ecology Network have played leading roles in this regard, having applied Buddhist teachings to the ecological crisis and having developed a range of initiatives to enable Buddhists to contribute to the development of an environmentally sustainable society.

Hindus working on multi-faith environmental initiatives in the West face challenges of messaging, resulting from the often unacknowledged dominance of Abrahamic faiths’ conception of the relationship of humans to the rest of existence and polarities in belief in the public phrasing of and definition of our current ecological problems and solutions. Hindus need to be better at articulating their beliefs for non-Hindus, while at the same time non-Hindus need to recognize that some of the messaging and priorities in the environmental activism community are at odds with, or at least not fully aligned with, Hindu spiritual beliefs.

Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On the Care For Our Common Home,” is the highest profile statement ever by a religious leader on the environment, receiving global media coverage and evoking responses from theologians around the world. This article represents a selection of comments on the encyclical by Catholic theologians and lay leaders, and by scholars from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Protestant Christian traditions, excerpted from a series of two webinars hosted by GreenFaith in September 2015.

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