Current Journal

Axel Oaks Takács, Managing Editor, and Jennifer Peace, Coordinating Editor, share their thoughts on this issue and the institutional development of the field of interreligious studies.

In this article, the author wrestles with a possible common ground for interreligious theological dialogue and engagement as they relate to educational processes and ritual practices. Rituals and theories must be brought together to help us put thought and practice together. In order to do this, we need to start where it hurts, in our own suffering, which is the ground zero for many religions. This article narrates a group of students who create a ritual that engages the “colonial wound.” The article suggests that we must listen to the birds so we can listen to the wounds of the earth, our common ground.

Keywords: colonial wound, suffering, common ground, interreligious rituals, solidarity

Multiple religious belonging (MRB) has become a way to challenge hegemonic ideas about identity and religiosity. This paper questions the influence of the Western construction of “good religion” on MRB and how it limits the experience of multiplicity in the context of people displaced by war and violence. Ultimately, this paper is a plea for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of MRB that accounts for a lived multiplicity not framed by the choice and individualism that mark Western definitions of religion.

Keywords: multiple religious belonging, decolonizing, religion definition, problematizing Christian supremacy, cultural Christianity

Though interreligious engagement is not necessarily a given for those who identify with or belong to more than one tradition, attending to the question of interfaith participation might help scholars and practitioners recognize the central issues that emerge in both the theory and practice of Multiple Religious Belonging (MRB), especially in participants’ relation between and among traditions. Multiple religious belonging directly challenges this ethos of oneness and underscores the need for postures or logics that do not, in the end, revert to an absolute unity. Interpreting MRB through the lens of theologies of multiplicity, in particular those from Laurel C. Schneider and Catherine Keller, may provide a remedy that diverges from a politics of representation that too often focuses on unitary or fixed manifestations of both individual religious identities and communal religious traditions. Ultimately, this paper will show how concepts from constructive Christian theologies that are attuned to ontological and epistemic multiplicity—in their attention to how the rhetoric of oneness operates—may be helpful in supporting the project of thinking of multiple religious belonging as coherent, as it relates to both individuals and to traditions.

Keywords: multiple religious belonging, multiplicity, interfaith dialogue, oneness, porosity, constructive theology, coherence, power relations, logic of the one, Christian hegemony, chaplaincy

Can interreligious dialogue evaluated as significant and successful at one level provide obstacles for interreligious dialogues at other levels? The Saudi initiated KAICIID center in Vienna, Austria is successful in gathering high-profile religious leaders from around the globe, including the Middle East, in order to establish regional platforms of dialogue. There are signs, however, that the Saudi representation of KAICIID in Austria creates challenges in the local context, particularly for Austrian Muslims who want to represent themselves without being affiliated with Saudi politics. Interreligious dialogues between religious leaders are also reproducing male ownership of the dialogues and patriarchal structures of religion because men are the overwhelming majority among them. Is there a need to develop a language for different kinds of interreligious dialogue beyond what is present in the discourse in the field? Can we talk about shared markers for all interreligious dialogues, or do we need to distinguish further between dialogue as a political and diplomatic tool and dialogue as community-building and emancipatory processes?

keywords: interreligious dialogue, KAICIID, diplomacy, Austria, Saudi-Arabia, institutionalizing dialogue

Interreligious studies is a promising new arena for collaboration in religious studies. This paper proposes that we read the recent demise of the comparative fundamentalism endeavor as a cautionary tale for what can result when religion scholars shape an interdisciplinary and intertraditional discourse. The key structural inequity of that framework was its assumed ideological identification with a non-fundamentalist, “normal” religious outlook. Fundamentalists were treated as a global crisis to be comprehended, leading scholars to caricature the communities, particularly the “Islamic fundamentalists,” they studied. Through careful attention to whom we include in our interreligious conversations, interreligious studies might avoid these same pitfalls.

Keywords: comparative, Fundamentalism, inclusion, other, lessons, interdisciplinary

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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.

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