International Interfaith Conference ‘Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-Modernity’

 

INTERFAITH ENCOUNTER IN

MODERNITY AND POST-MODERNITY

 

The University of Winchester, UK: 911 September 2008

 

THE CONFERENCE

Today, when the cultures of the world are coming closer yet also seem to be drawing further apart, there is an increasing need for the representative faith traditions to engage in dialogue and encounter.  However, questions are asked as to the basis and impact of Interfaith Dialogue and Encounter.

 

‘Interfaith Encounter in Modernity and Post-modernity’ will bring together a group of around ten leading international scholars from Judaism, Islam and Christianity to form a central colloquium of intensive discussion.  Around this, a wider conference on Interfaith Encounter will occur. Attendees will be able to deliver papers, observe colloquium sessions, and engage in Q&A sessions with the scholars involved. Each day of the conference will be themed:

 

DAY 1: the implications of modernity/ post-modernity for interfaith encounter

DAY 2: how scholarly debate about dialogue impacts on religious institutions

DAY 3: dialogue and public life, the role of religion in peacemaking and conflict resolution, business ethics, and debates about ‘multiculturalism’

 

Confirmed colloquium scholars: Khaleel Muhammad; Alwi Shihab; Riffat Hassan; Racelle Weiman; Reuven Firestone; Maurice-Ruben Hayoun; Ursula King; Perry Schmidt-Leukel; Rosemary Radford Ruether.

 

REGISTRATION AND SUBMISSION OF PAPERS:

Papers are called for (40 minutes: 30 talk, 10 questions) that explore the issues of Interfaith Encounter from a variety of perspectives and traditions (these may explore the main conference themes or other areas of Interfaith Encounter, Inter-religious Dialogue, theologies of religions and related studies).

 

Both delegates and observers are welcome.

 

ABSTRACTS of proposed papers to be submitted by 1ST JUNE 2008.

REGISTRATION and CONFERENCE FEES to be paid by 1ST JULY 2008.

 

 

Those wishing to attend should submit a registration request with the following data: family and personal name(s), address, institutional affiliation (if any), email, abstract and paper title (if any), attendance pattern (i.e. whole conference or specific day).

 

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE:

Dr Paul Hedges, Department of Theology and Religious Studies,

University of Winchester, Winchester, SO22 4NR

Tel: 0044 (0)1962 827451

 Email: paul.hedges@winchester.ac.uk

 

CONFERENCE COSTS:

£250 (developed countries), £175 (developing countries and students) to include two nights single accommodation (9th, 10th), the conference dinner, and meals during the conference (dinner 9th to lunch 11th). Daily rate: £50 (lunch only 10th & 11th).

 

THE CONFERENCE ORGANIZERS:

Dr Paul Hedges; Professor Leonard Swidler; Revd Dr Alan Race

 

ORGANIZED IN CONJUNCTION WITH:

The Journal of Ecumenical Studies; Interreligious Insight; The Centre for Global Ethics; St. Philip’s Centre for Study and Engagement (Leicester); World Council of Faiths

 

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10 Responses to International Interfaith Conference ‘Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-Modernity’

  1. Paul Hedges says:

    Conference Poster:

    Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-Modernity Conference

    The University of Winchester: 9-11 September 2008

    Speakers include:

    Professor Leonard Swidler, Temple University, USA
    Co-founder & editor: Journal of Ecumenical Studies. Co-founder & Director: Global Dialogue Institute. Books include: For All Life: Toward a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic; The Study of Religion in the Age of Global Dialogue

    Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont Graduate University, USA
    Books include: Sexism and God-Talk; The Wrath of Jonah: The Crisis of Religious Nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History

    Professor Reuven Firestone, Hebrew Union College, USA
    Books include: Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews; Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam; Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis

    Alwi Shihab, Special Minister to the President of Indonesia
    Formerly: Foreign Minister of Indonesia and professor at Harvard University, USA

    Canon Dr Alan Race, St Philips Centre & World Congress of Faiths, UK
    Editor-in-chief of the journal Interreligious Insight. Books include: Interfaith Encounter: The Twin Tracks of Theology and Dialogue; Christians and Religious Pluralism

    Professor Ursula King, Professor Emeritus University of Bristol, UK
    Books include: Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages; Women and spirituality: Voices of Promise and Protest; Religion and Gender

    Professors: Khaleel Muhammad (SDSU, USA); Nahide Brozkurt (Ankara University, Turkey); Racelle Weiman (Temple University, USA); Maurice-Ruben Hayoun (Juedische Hochschule, Heidelberg, Germany); Perry Schmidt-Leukel (Glasgow University, UK); and, speakers from Malaysia, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere.

    Events open to the public:

    9th September
    Opening Ceremony (starts 6pm)
    Keynote paper by Professor Leonard Swidler (6.30-7.30pm):
    ‘Modernity’s Fourth – and Key – Element: Dialogue’

    10th September
    Keynote lecture by Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether (6.30-7.30pm):
    ‘Ecofeminism and Interfaith Dialogue’
    Book launch:
    Christian Approaches to Other Faiths, Alan Race & Paul Hedges (eds), SCM Press (6pm)

    For registration and attendance details contact:

    Dr Paul Hedges, Lecturer in Theology & Religious Studies, Dept. of Theology & Religious Studies, Sparkford Road, University of Winchester, Winchester, SO22 4NR, UK
    Tel: (0044) (0)1962 827451 Email: paul.hedges@winchester.ac.uk

    Organized in conjunction with: Dialogue Institute at Temple University/Journal of Ecumenical Studies; Interreligious Insight; St. Philip’s Centre for Study and Engagement (Leicester); World Congress of Faiths

  2. paulhedges says:

    Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-Modernity

    9-11 September 2008

    CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

    All events at the West Downs Conference Centre unless noted otherwise.
    West Downs Site: http://www.winchester.ac.uk/?page=8832

    9th September

    10.00am Registration begins (to be completed by 12.30pm)

    12. 45pm Conference begins

    12.45pm Welcome

    PVC: Prof. Elizabeth Stuart
    Head of TRS: Prof. Lisa Isherwood
    The Organizers: Rev. Canon Dr Alan Race with Dr Paul Hedges and Prof. Leonard Swidler

    Colloquium Session: Modernity and Post-Modernity in the Academy

    1.10-2.00 Paper 1: Prof. Perry Scmidt-Leukel ‘In Defence of Syncretism’
    2.00-2.50 Paper 2: Prof. Nahide Brozkurt: ‘Interfaith Dialogue in a Turkish University’
    2.50-3.40 Paper 3: Prof. Ursula King: ‘Inter-spirituality’

    Strand A: Dialogue and Islam

    1.10-1.50 Paper 1: Dr Bakary Sambe ‘Dialogue and Pluralism within the Qur’an: The Role of Interpretation’
    1.50-2.30 Paper 2: Patrick Diemling ‘Can Muslims and Christians Pray Together?’
    2.30-3.10 Paper 3: Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid ‘Interfaith Encounter in Modernity and Post-Modernity: An Islamic Perspective’
    3.10-3.50 Paper 4: Dr Jonathan D. Smith ‘Contextual Evangelism: A Critical Concern in Christian-Muslim Dialogue’

    3.40-4.10 Tea

    Colloquium Session (cont)

    4.10-5.00 Paper 4: Prof. Reuven Firestone: Divine Election: Can Those Chosen by God Dialogue with Others?
    5.00-5.30 Open Q&A

    6:00-6.30 Opening ceremony: The Great Hall, Winchester Castle
    Great Hall site: http://www.hants.gov.uk/greathall/index.html

    HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire and Chancellor of the University – Mrs Mary Fagan JP
    The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Winchester, Councillor Michael Read
    Member of Parliament for Winchester, Mark Oaten, MP
    The Dean of Winchester Cathedral, Rev. James Atwell
    Deputy Leader of HCC and Chair of Hampshire Interfaith Network, Cllr. Roy Perry
    The Organizers: Paul Hedges with Leonard Swidler and Alan Race

    6.30-7.30 Keynote Paper: Prof. Leonard Swidler ‘Modernity’s Fourth – and Key – Characteristic: Dialogue’

    8.00 Dinner – West Downs Conference Centre

    10th September

    Colloquium Session: Dialogue in Religious Institutions and Communities (in Relation to the Academy)

    9.00-9.50 Prof. Khaleel Mohammed ‘Lay, Institutional and Academic Perspectives on Dialogue’
    9.50-10.40 Prof. Harold Kasimow ‘The Catholic Church in Dialogue with Islam: a Jewish Perspective’

    10.40-11.00 Coffee

    11.00-11.50 Rev. Dr Alan Race: TBA (Christian perspectives)
    11.50-12.20 Discussion

    Strand A: Practitioner Perspectives on Dialogue

    9.10-9.50 Paper 1: Rev. Kevin Tingay ‘Assignments in Avalon’
    9.50-10.30 Paper 2: Jean-Daniel Kabati ‘Interfaith Dialogue and Peace near the African Great Lakes’

    10.30-11.00 Coffee

    11.00-11.40 Paper 3: Yusuff Jelili Amuda ‘Shariah, Religious Tolerance and Children in Nigeria’ (in absentia)
    11.40-12.20 Paper 4: Wanda Nash ‘Silent Prayer as a Place of Meeting’

    Strand B: Theoretical Perspectives

    9.10-1.50 Paper 1: Dr Greg Barker ‘Religious Evolution: Towards a Phenomenological Critique’
    9.50-10.30 Paper 2: Prof. Peter Losonczi ‘Dialogue and Normalization’ (in absentia)
    Coffee
    11.00-11.40 Paper 3: Prof. L. Michael Spath ‘Integral Dialogue’
    11.40-12.20 Paper 4: Prof. Rene R. R. Raneses ‘Arendt and Ratzinger on Tradition in a Multi-Faith Context’ CANCELLED

    12.30-1.30 Lunch

    Colloquium Session and Related Papers: Perspectives on Dialogue: East-West Dialogue and Feminism

    1.40-2.30 Paper 1: Dr Paul Hedges ‘Human Rights in the West, Islam and Confucianism’
    2.30-3.10 Paper 2: Rose Drew ‘An Exploration of Buddhist-Christian Dual Belonging’
    3.10-4.00 Paper 3: Dr Helene Egnell ‘The Feminist Contribution to Interfaith Dialogue’

    Strand A: Dialogue and Other Contexts

    1.40-2.20 Paper 1: Prof. Mohammad Tariqur Rahman ‘Therapeutic Interventions: An Islamic Perspective’
    2.20-3.00 Paper 2: Dr Hira Selma Kalkan ‘Sculpture of the Schizophrenic’
    3.00-3.40 Paper 3: Chris Parrish ‘An Evolutionary Spirituality’
    3.40-4.20 Paper 4: Parvaneh Farid: ‘The Bahai Conception of Progressive Revelation’

    4.00-4.40 Tea

    4.40-5.20 Open Q&A

    6.00-6.20 Book Launch: Christian Approaches to Other Faiths: An Introduction, Dr Paul Hedges & Rev. Dr Alan Race (eds), SCM Press
    Limited space will be available for other book titles for sale by speakers

    6.30-7.30 Keynote Paper: Prof. Rosemary Radford Ruether ‘Ecofeminism and Interfaith Dialogue’

    7.45 Dinner

    11th September

    Colloquium Session: Dialogue and its Social Impacts

    9.00-9.40 Dr Maureen Sier ‘Interfaith Dialogue and the Scottish Government’
    9.40-10.20 Prof. Alwi Shihab TBA (Islamic perspectives)
    10.20-11.00 Prof. Mahmut Aydin ‘A Critical Examination of Gulen’s Understanding of Interreligious Dialogue’

    11.00-11.20 Coffee

    11.20-12.00 Prof. Racelle Weiman ‘Interreligious Dialogue in a Flat World: More Necessary than Ever’

    Strand A: Post-Graduate Papers A

    9.00-9.40 Paper 1: Mel Prideux and Christian Kaestner ‘Truth and the Lived Reality of Interfaith Dialogue’
    9.40-10.20 Paper 2: Janan Izadi ‘Interfaith Dialogue: A Semantic Model’
    10.20-11.00 Paper 3: Sofie von Hauch ‘Ramakrishna, Besant, Leadbetter and Personal Dialogue’

    11.00-11.20 Coffee

    Strand B: Post-Graduate Papers B

    9.00-9.40 Paper 1: Douglas Green ‘Ethical Brokers in Conflict Resolution’
    9.40-10.20 Paper 2: Geert Drieghe ‘Religious Pluralism and Dialogue’
    10.20-11.00 Paper 3: Magdalen Lambkin ‘Interreligious Dialogue and the Hermeneutic of Sacred Scripture’

    11.00-11.20 Coffee

    11.20-12.00 Paper 4: Jacob Louis Waldenmaier ‘Reclaiming Reality: Natural Science and Interfaith Encounter’

    Colloquium Session
    12.00-12.30 Q&A

    12.30-1.10 Final Meeting and Press Conference

    1.15-2.15 Lunch

    2.15 Conference Ends

  3. paulhedges says:

    Abstracts:

    Paper to be delivered at the
    Interfaith Dialogue in Modernity and Post-Modernity Conference
    University of Winchester, 9-11 September 2008

    9/11

    Colloquium Session: Modernity and Post-Modernity in the Academy

    Prof. Perry Scmidt-Leukel: ‘In Defence of Syncretism’
    University of Glasgow, UK
    Professor of Systematic Theology and Religious Studies
    Chair of World Religions for Peace

    Abstract: Fear of syncretism often functions as a blockade for constructive reflective efforts that attempt to revise theology by integrating what can be learned from other religions. This paper will review the major charges that have been forwarded against syncretism and submit them to a detailed discussion in order to present a differentiated defence of syncretism.

    Prof. Nahide Bozkurt: ‘Interfaith Dialogue in a Turkish University’
    University of Ankara, Turkey

    Abstract:TBR

    Prof. Ursula King: ‘Interfaith Spirituality or Interspirituality: A New Phenomenon in a Postmodern World’
    University of Bristol, UK
    Professor Emeritus

    Abstract: Feminist theology and feminist dialogue projects have dealt with many topics that have a bearing on interfaith dialogue and theology of religions. Such topics are the experience of being “the Other”, relation, difference, marginality and the hermeneutics of suspicion. However, the insights of feminist theology in these areas have not been taken seriously in theology of religions or in the practice of inter faith dialogue. I my presentation I will suggest how these insights can show the way forward in theology of religions and interfaith dialogue.
    A growing number of people around the globe recognize that interfaith dialogue is the spiritual journey of our time out of which a new spirituality is emerging that draws on more than one religious tradition and goes beyond the much discussed phenomena of “double religious belonging”. Wayne Teasdale (1945-2004) has promoted the idea of ‘interspirituality’ since the 1993 Chicago Parliament of the World’s Religions, understanding it as the sharing of religious, especially mystical, experiences across different traditions; others have followed his example or independently developed similar ideas about the development of spirituality within an interfaith context.
    My paper will look at Wayne Teasdale, and other pioneers of interfaith spirituality who advocate a spiritually pluralistic orientation, with the following questions in mind:
    What are said to be the characteristic features of interspirituality?
    How far are these linked to the rise of postmodernity?
    What are the necessary conditions for a wider acceptance of interspirituality in the contemporary global world, within and beyond the interfaith movement?

    Prof. Reuven Firestone: Divine Election: Can Those Chosen by God Dialogue with Others?
    Hebrew Union College, USA
    Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam

    Abstract: Monotheism appears to be organically elitist, and exclusive. These traits seem to be a natural function of its existential structure as well as its history. How could one consistent, moral God give what appear to be contradictory messages to discreet communities, and particularly messages that could be understood as leading to conflict, strife, and violence between human groups? The variant messages cannot all be true, or genuine, or authentic. But then how does one determine which is really authentic and articulates the divine imperative? The answer among most people in the world has been some variation of the following: “the true message is the message that I am familiar with – God’s message that I learned as truth, and not the message that you learned as truth. Mine is authentic. I have no need of listening to what you think is the word of God. Mine is a complete system. And by the way, my scripture, which I know as the divine truth, teaches that your religious perspective is incomplete if not false and threatening.”
    In the modern period, the old triumphalism has been undermined and told that it must give way. What has tended to fill the vacuum has been tendencies toward relativism or syncretism. But in what some define as the beginnings of “post-modernity,” there has been a pushing back and a return to triumphalism. Some believe this is the last gasp of the old school, while others consider it to be the wave of the immediate future. Is there a way to affirm belief in one’s religious superiority and engage in positive encounter with the other?

    Islam and Dialogue

    Dr Bakary Sambe: ‘Dialogue and pluralism within the Qur’ân : The role of interpretation’
    Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon, France
    Associated Researcher

    Abstract: According to Muslims, the qur’ânic message is universal. That’s why they think that it’s easily understood and assimilated by all people in different societies and civilizations. Many keywords and verses in the qur’ânic text can invite us to think about this fact and the high importance of diversity and multiculturalism : (اختلاف ألوانكم و ألسنتكم) .
    Then diversity can be considered as a principle of Islamic message. The spirit of Islam accepts this diversity even into the islamic communauties themselves (لكل جعلنا شرعة و منهاجا) and outside the communauties in their relations with others civilizations and religions (أهل الكتاب). The qur’ânic text talk about Moise, Jesus-Christ and Abraham more than Muhammad, the Prophete of Islam.
    My communication aimes to analyse the text to see how mystical interpretation can help to promote diversity and multiculturalism. Also the sufi concepts will take an important place in my reflection by giving examples of tolerance and diversity in different brotherhoods especially in sub-saharian societies.

    Patrick Diemling: ‘Can Muslims and Christians pray together? On the (im-) possibility of inter-faith prayer’
    Universität Potsdam, Germany
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: Although the history of Christian-Muslim encounter has been characterised mainly by hostility, mistrust and even bloodshed, an increasing number of people is interested in common prayer. When we ask “Can Muslims and Christians pray together?”, we have to differentiate between inter-faith prayer (“praying together” as one community united in prayer) and multi-faith prayer (“coming together to pray” the respective own prayers besides each other). Whereas fundamentalists decline either form in general, many official clerical documents permit or even support the latter. Inter-faith prayer is not possible if it refers to liturgy such as the Eucharistic prayer or the salat. However, it is possible if Muslims and Christians meet for prayer outside their respective services, realising that they believe in the same God, despite their different concepts of Him. Confessional features which are objectionable for the other can be omitted in a common prayer; it is no betrayal to one’s own faith.

    Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid: Inter-Faith Encounters in Modernity and Post-Modernity: An Islamic Prespective
    Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, UK
    Chairman

    Abstract: In my humble opinion the word “Islam” should be used exclusively for the “Way of Life” based upon divine sources: The Book known as Qur’an, “the word of God” and Sunnah, “the proven practices of the Prophet” (peace and blessing of God be upon him). “Muslims” as human beings are free to abide or deviate from Divine Guidance as they feel fit according to their own conscience. Islam has never claimed to be a new faith. It is the same faith that God ordained with the creation of the first man sent to earth – Adam. Islam confirms almost all Biblical and Hebrew Prophets as the Prophets of Islam and their messages as the messages of Islam as long as they are confirmed in the Qur’an, the Book of Islam. The moral and ethical code of Islam is similar to Judaism, Christianity and many other major world faiths. The only difference is in theology, concepts and practices, in the methods of worship of the One and the Only One God and methodology of how morality and ethics should govern all spheres and aspects of our human life. A Muslim must do good deeds and work for the welfare of humanity in co-operation with others for common good.

    Jonathan D. Smith: ‘Contextual evangelism: A critical concern in Christian-Muslim dialogue’
    Lebanese American University, Lebanon
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: A central issue on the table in Muslim-Christian relations has been the ethics of Christian mission and Islamic da’wah (invitation to Islam). While past dialogues have resulted in agreement on broad ethical principles of mission, such as the freedom to bear witness in a non-coercive manner, a frank dialogue on the actual methods used by missionaries has been largely neglected. One such controversial missionary method is known as contextual evangelism, which aims to present the Christian message in Muslim language for the primary purpose of winning converts and establishing communities of “Muslim followers of ‘Isa” throughout the Muslim world. After exploring the theological underpinnings of contextual evangelism, its historical development and its present practice, major ramifications for Christian-Muslim relations are offered. A suggested way forward would involve the development of a more deeply integrated theology of mission through intra- and inter- community dialogue.

    Keynote Paper

    Prof. Leonard Swidler: ‘Modernity’s Fourth – and Key – Characteristic: Dialogue’
    Temple University, USA
    Professor of Catholic Theology
    Co-Founder and Director: Global Dialogue Institute

    Abstract: I want to reflect together with you on the mental world that all of us here, wherever we come from, live in and which is the overwhelming force shaping today’s, and especially tomorrow’s, world, Modernity–particularly its most recently developed, and key, characteristic: Dialogue.
    Modernity, as I understand it, entails a world view which cherishes
    1. freedom at the core of being human,
    2. critical-thinking reason as the arbiter of what to affirm or not,
    3. history, process, dynamism seen at the heart of human life and society, and
    4. the increasing awareness of pluralism, with the consequent need to be in dialogue with those who think differently from us–
    and yet senses that there is somehow more to life, to reality, than meets the eye, that there is a depth or spiritual dimension that is not captured in our every-day experiences. Although much of the globe now lives in the mental world of Modernity, Modernity was born in Western Civilization as it slowly, painfully emerged from Christendom in the 18th century, and is now morphing into Global Civilization.

    10/11

    Colloquium Session: Dialogue in Religious Institutions and Communities (in Relation to the Academy)

    Prof. Khaleel Mohammed: ‘Lay, Institutional and Academic Perspectives on Dialogue’
    San Diego State University, USA
    Associate Professor of Religion

    Abstract: TBR

    Speaker to be Confirmed

    Rev. Canon Dr Alan Race: TBA
    St Philips Centre, Leicester, USA
    Editor-in-Chief Interreligious Insight

    Abstract: TBR

    Theoretical Perspectives

    Dr Gregory A. Barker: ‘Religious Evolution: Toward a Phenomenological Critique’
    Trinity College, Carmarthen, UK
    Head of Department

    Abstract: This presentation critically explores the evidence for world religious convergence as defined by leading theological pluralists. John Hick views religions as moving away from self-absolutizing tendencies toward a convergence around central or “core” affirmations regarding the noumenal realm. In this vision of the future of religions, Hick holds that believers can still celebrate and receive inspiration from that which is distinctive in their traditions, though this would never come at the expense of grasping shared truths concerning divine transcendence and ethical transformation. These views on world religious development have elicited extensive criticism from Christian theologians who define themselves as inclusivist, particularist, confessional or exclusivist. Generally speaking, these theological critiques characterize Hick’s polycentric theologizing as beyond the borders of Christian commitment. This kind of theological criticism of the pluralist vision is a well-trodden field unlikely to offer much new insight. However, could a phenomenological perspective offer a denial or confirmation of Hick’s views? This presentation will examine how Hick’s theory of world religious development holds up to the type of phenomenological scrutiny embodied in the work of Ninian Smart.

    L. Michael Spath: ‘Integral Dialogue’
    Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, USA
    Continuing Professor of Religious Studies

    Abstract: Recognizing the meme-level of the participants of interfaith dialogue (as well as the psycho-cultural developmental context) is crucial to identifying both the goal and process of such Integral Dialogue, and carves out for faith its proper role within an overall intercultural and intercivilizational post-modern dialogue.
    Research by social scientists spanning more than three-quarters of a century reveals that human consciousness evolves in stages, influenced both by personal cognitive and historical-cultural development. Richard Dawkins, in his seminal study, The Selfish Gene, coined the term “meme” to describe how evolutionary thought can describe both psychological and cultural forces, as well as create and shape their contexts. It is this very cultural, civilizational, even socio-political element and their mutually formative character that builds on the work of previous developmental theories of, among others, faith (Fowler), moral (Kohlberg), psychosocial (Erikson), ego (Loevinger), or consciousness (Gebser).
    A meme is a single, foundational particle of cultural information that manifests itself in ideology, worldview, value-system, faith, and binds individuals together in social systems and communities (sometimes called meme-systems or meta-memes). It is possible, then, to identify meme-systems in psychological and cultural/political evolutionary patterns (like concentric circles, or Russian nesting dolls), each building upon, transcending yet incorporating the previous stages. No matter the various developmental and evolutionary models, each identifies that the penultimate stages as believing themselves uniquely legitimate, the previous ones deficient (in fact, each new stage a reaction to the previous stages unanswerable issues), and the final stage – Incarnational/Generative, Wholistic, or Integral – as the one meme-system that embraces all the previous stages.
    Each stage of development has its own meme-system, worldview. This means that each stage of development has its own understanding of and definition for, for example: [1] God; [2] the glory and shadow of human existence; [3] peace; [4] relationship with the other; and, most importantly for this proposal, [5] both the process and goal of interfaith dialogue.
    For example, addressing this last set of definitions, as one moves higher (or deeper) into the developmental stages and meme-systems, the goal of dialogue in a post-modern age increasingly moves toward integration and transformation:
    Dialogue Goals at Various Stages of Development
    Mutual need & survival  Knowledge  Triumph & Conversion  Tolerance  Cooperation  Appreciation & Understanding  Mutual Transformation
    Integral Dialogue can uniquely build bridges of understanding and offer avenues of integration at the meme-level not only among Abrahamic ‘monotheistic’ traditions, but also between East and West.
    Therefore, identifying the meme-system of the interfaith dialogue partners (individuals or groups) is crucial not only for understanding at what level each participant is, and not only for assisting participants in their dialogue, and not only for showing respect for each participant, and not only in shaping the dialogue process itself, but also, most critically of all, creating an environment of grace, a mutually beneficent habitat so that the goal of the process of a true Integral Dialogue meets its great promise, not mere mutual monologue (with its limited albeit increasingly expansive goals of tolerance, understanding, cooperation, even mutual understanding) but indeed, a deepening of faith, growth, and even transformation for all participants.

    CANCELLED: Prof. Rene Raymond Roma Rañeses, Jr.: ‘Arendt and Ratzinger’s Critique of Modernity/Defense of Tradition: Faith, Agonistic Politics and the Case of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’
    Ateneo de Manila Univeristy, Philippines
    Professor

    Abstract: How do we resist the modern impulse to sublimate every form of human relations, including those driven by faith-based reason into games of private interests and utilitarian pursuits? What mode of public engagement can be engendered such that a vibrant political space that need not be dominated or conquered can guarantee that every citizen is able to view a socio-political controversy from innumerable standpoints which only his or her being-with-others allows? Recent debates in democratic theory respond to these questions in two ways: one, a deliberative model founded on the sovereignty of procedural politics (Habermas); and two, a more radical model insisting on the agonistic in-dwelling between tension-filled political actors and organizations (Mouffe, Connolly, Brown). The central preoccupation dividing these two camps can be summarized in the question: should differences be resolved or should they instead be cultivated? In the intensity of the conversations between these two contemporary theoretical schools, there seems to be a shared repudiation of received tradition (cultural or religious) as a guiding principle for political dialogue. For the Rawlsian-Habermasian deliberative theorists, tradition represents the “mad” and “metaphysical” speech of the pre-political, while for radical critics, appeal to tradition in public debates is valid insofar as it is inherently contradictory: its “closed” systems of signification are “opened” when articulated/performed in the public realm. Thus, there seems to be, in both camps, a suggestive reproduction of the modern (ideological) dichotomy between reason and religion
    In this paper, I rehabilitate the political value of tradition as a provisional and partial cure to the culture of disengagement that modern (neo)liberal politics breeds. I attempt to achieve this by looking at the works of two German thinkers – Hannah Arendt and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) – whose critique of modernity and defense of tradition, I argue shares much in common. My central claim is that in both Arendt and Ratzinger, tradition is theorized as that which provides the hermeneutical horizon and background of public thought/speech/action – as a concretely historical artifice that allows thought/speech/action to gain visibility and performativity. I then explore how appeals to tradition by Catholic Bishops in the Philippines have provided texture to a seemingly liberal hegemonic order characterizing the country’s political life. Specifically, I identify the contours of the Bishops’ political discourse on multiculturalism and inter-faith dialogue which I argue represent a deep commitment to the antagonism that traditions-in-conversation generates.

    Prof. Peter Losonczi: ‘Dialogue and normalization: challenges of inter-religious encounter’
    University of West Hungary, Hungary
    Associate Professor
    External Researcher Institute for Philosophical Research Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA)

    Abstract: In my paper I would like to discuss an issue which I define as a key-element of the contemporary context of inter-religious encounter, namely question of normalization. Normalization, as an essential constituent of every acts of human understanding involves important dilemmas concerning the limits and possibilities of inter-religious encounter and dialogue. I intend to show that while historically the very idea of inter-religious dialogue appeared as a typically modern phenomenon relying on a specific form of normalization, the contemporary situation renders it necessary to reflect upon the limits of normalization and to seek for alternative attitudes. I intend to argue that certain elements of post-modern thought, especially Bernhard Waldenfels’s investigations regarding the limits of normalization can prove to be important in this regard.

    Practitioner Perspectives on Dialogue

    Rev. Tingay Kevin: ‘Assignments in Avalon – encounters in dialogue and engagement in Glastonbury.’
    Diocese of Bath and Wells, UK
    Interfaith Advisor

    Abstract: The small Somerset town of Glastonbury had been a centre of Christian life and pilgrimage since ancient times. From the early 20th century, it has attracted individuals and groups following more heterodox quests. This ‘alternative’ community has grown exponentially over the past thirty years and now accounts for a significant proportion of the population, and of visitors to the town. The ‘rules of engagement’ that have evolved over the past decade of inter-faith dialogue evolved from engagement between Christians and representative communities of the major world faiths, in the UK and world-wide. The emergence of new patterns of spirituality, and new religious movements, offer challenges to some of these models of dialogue. This paper will explore some of these issues based on the experience of a Christian practitioner tasked with facilitating understanding between Christians and the great variety of spiritualities witnessed to in Glastonbury, some of which are not easily contained within traditional patterns of organised religion.

    Yusuff Jelili Amuda: ‘Shari’ah Aspect of Religion’s Tolerance as the Protection for Children: A Case Study of Nigerian Muslims and Christians’
    International Islamic University, Malaysia
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: In recent years, violence has always erupted and escalated between Nigerian Muslims and Christians that cost and claimed innocent lives and properties, while many people had been massacred under the spectrum of religion. The two major Nigerian religions that is Islam and Christianity, sometimes depicted as monolithic entities, confront each other in pitches of battles. Likewise, these religions at logger head have traumatized and affected children lives in Nigeria while many children lost their biological parents due to religion conflict. This article is not meant to be an effrontery to any Nigerian religion but to give an in-depth analysis of quick and urgent solution to the perilous situation of religious discord that is affecting the lives of children and their future.
    This paper intends to examine the causes of religion discord in Nigeria; legalities of religious tolerance under Shari’ah, while classical Islamic jurists opinions would be pen down in some lines. However, how the religion rift traumatize and affect children in Nigeria will be also discussed in the findings. Solution and suggestions would be posted as a way forward to the nation at large and children specifically. This research will be qualitative in method which will exploit the available materials gathered from the library and internet.

    Jean-Daniel Kabati: ‘Interfaith Dialogues: A Key-Player in the African Great-Lakes Peace-building’
    University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: The individual religious affiliation has an important place in the most communities in the Great-Lakes region of Africa. This region has been one of the most troubled regions by violent conflict for the last 2 decades. In the recent years (1990 to 2008) most communities rely on the religious organizations for rescue in addressing their social, economical, cultural and political problems when the state is not able to resolve their problems. This paper demonstrates the impact of the interfaith dialogues in addressing the regional problems. It reveals the significant contribution of the different faiths group engagement in dialogues beyond their religious realities in attempts to resolving their global problems. The situation of the Great-Lakes region is a good case that displays how the different religious groups have turned religious intolerance into a united force to address the social crisis in the region amongst the different faith groups.
    The paper provides a map for a contribution of faith based institution in the social reconstruction of a society in crisis. A good analysis of field data is conducted for an actual product. The paper is structured from result of opinions from the interviewees of different population groups who represent the Central African region. In this attempt the archives, reports and other crucial documentations concerning the interfaith dialogues in the efforts of rebuilding peace in the region have been consulted. The Central African situation is briefly compared to the involvement of other interfaith dialogues in the United States in the same attempt of the building a sustainable peaceful society.
    The paper is a response to the religious fundamentalism showing that there are possibilities of respecting the other beliefs without compromising own for the sake of the global peace. The paper is a contribution towards promoting the culture of dialogue in the world of diversities to address the widespread problems that affect humanity.

    Wanda E. Nash: ‘Sharing Silent Prayer Together: the “Place of No Words”, where there are no words to affront’
    Winchester Cathedral, UK
    Representative for Inter-Faith Relations
    Vice-Chair of the Association for the Promotion of Retreats.

    Abstract: The academic discussion of my subject is limited. The address I hope to offer the University of Winchester will be largely exponential: it is an area I have been exploring for over six years.
    Each of the World Faiths own a school of Silent Prayer [Mysticism], but communication between them is rare. In the practice of silent prayer/meditation, bonds of beyond-words understanding and mutual co-operation are forged that preclude disputation and hostility: people who meditate together do not fight or indulge in aggressive conflict; they primarily respect each others’ individual revelation of God, and God’s benificence towards the world.
    If such potency is attached to silent prayer, what are the hesitations, barriers, and vulnerabilities, the varieties of ‘enlightenment’ that get in the way of sharing this practice? When opportunities are provided, what stops well-intentioned people of prayer from attending?
    The aim of this address will be to inform but also to question and challenge the status quo. The outcome of the discussion raised could be fundamental, and the changes it advocates rebalance atrocities that are harming our contemporary world. In the long term, together, it might even become possible to expose and describe the extra-human malicious principality that apparently is attached to human experience today.
    It may be that the most effective means of influencing the malignant spiritual powers at present influencing our world is by facing them in meditation. Perhaps we could tackle this – together!

    Colloquium Session and Other Papers: Perspectives on Dialogue: East-West and Feminism

    Dr Paul Hedges: ‘Human Rights in the West, Islam and Confucianism’
    University of Winchester, UK
    Lecturer in Theology & Religious Studies

    Abstract: This paper will seek a dialogue between three major culture-ideological blocks, the Chinese/ Confucian, the Islamic and the West (Christian) on the notion of Human Rights. Moving beyond assumptions of common values in a shared set of beliefs about Human Rights and a Global Ethic, the paper will, nevertheless, seek to suggest ways in which shared notions of human dignity can provide a standpoint from which to build. However, it will be questioned whether this should be envisaged in terms of ‘rights’ language, and the way we may seek to develop a model that allows each culture to develop a perspective on this within their own cultural terms. This will, in turn, suggest that we should critique certain Western assumptions about what Human Rights are and how far they extend.

    Rose Drew: ‘An Exploration of Buddhist-Christian Dual Belonging’
    University of Glasgow, UK
    Doctoral Candidate

    Abstract: My paper is based on my PhD research (close to completion) which concerns the two-fold challenge facing Buddhist Christian dual belongers: on the one hand, to integrate these two traditions for the sake of logical, psychological, and spiritual coherence, and, on the other hand, to remain faithful to each of these traditions and to preserve the distinctiveness of each. I argue that this challenge is not insurmountable and, moreover, that by striking a balance between these two poles which tracks the progression of the internal dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, the dual belonger becomes a microcosm of the dialogue between these traditions at large, embodying its fruits and accelerating the mutual transformation of these traditions, often stated as an aim of that dialogue. Like any religious person, dual belongers face the risk of a superficial approach to spirituality, but I suggest that their adherence to two traditions may mean that they are less rather than more susceptible to this risk than are single belongers.

    Dr Helene Egnell: ‘The Feminist Contribution to Interfaith Dialogue’
    University of Uppsala, Sweden

    Abstract: Feminist theology and feminist dialogue projects have dealt with many topics that have a bearing on interfaith dialogue and theology of religions. Such topics are the experience of being “the Other”, relation, difference, marginality and the hermeneutics of suspicion. However, the insights of feminist theology in these areas have not been taken seriously in theology of religions or in the practice of inter faith dialogue. I my presentation I will suggest how these insights can show the way forward in theology of religions and interfaith dialogue.

    Dialogue and Other Contexts

    Mohammad Tariqur Rahman: ‘Understanding different therapeutic interventions from a Islamic viewpoint of faith and practice’
    International Islamic University, Malaysia
    Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Science

    Abstract: Disease and its healing in most of the therapeutic strategies are mainly based either on physical or on metaphysical aspects. Therapeutic strategies in Islam are based on a combined dependence upon the spiritual, psychological and material means. Therefore, it is important to analyze current therapeutic strategies from Islamic perspective based on guidelines from the Qur`an and Sunnah. This would help to understand the relation of these guidelines to other medical models which are aiming at better health outcomes throughout the world. This paper examines how the guidelines and principles of the Qur`an and Sunnah may contribute to the understanding and evaluation of different therapeutic interventions. A successful activation of the Islamic therapeutic model and its furtherance apart from the usage of limited therapeutic strategies on the individual level can only take place within a reactivation of an authentic Islamic way of life.
    (Paper authors: Mohammad Tariqur Rahman1, Lindsay Brown2, Anke Iman Bouzenita3 and Ibrahim Ahmed Shogar1; 1Kulliyyah of Science, International Islamic University Malaysia(IIUM), Jalan Istana, Bandar Indera Mahkota 25200 Kuantan, Malaysia; 2 School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland 4072, Australia; 3Kulliyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM, Jalan Gombak, 53100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

    Dr Hira Selma Kalkan: ‘Sculpture of the Schizophrenic’
    Bakirkoy Dr. Mazhar Osman Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders, Turkey
    Assistant psychiarist

    Abstract: A film about how the people of Tunceli, a city in the East of Turkey, accept a person with schizophrenia. Based in a multi-cultural context, it comes from an area where orthodox Islam and a variety of faiths, such as Shamanism, Zoroastrianism, belief of Mithra, Alevism and Zazism exist. The context of the illness and its different reception around these faith communities will be shown.

    Parvaneh Farid: ‘The Bahai Conception of Progressive Revelation’
    University of Winchester, UK

    Abstract: This presentation will begin with the concept of the “Unity of God”, leading to the
    “Manifestations of God”, and “Unity of Religion” followed by the notion of “Progressive Revelation” and ending with the “Unity of Mankind” in a Bahai perspective.

    Chris Parish: ‘An Evolutionary Spirituality Perspective on Dialogue’
    EnlightenNext, UK
    Director

    Abstract: Experientially bringing into dialogue the view that we are all literally in a deep time process of the evolution of culture and consciousness can enable a radically new depth and intimacy to emerge between groups of people. Over the last few years, the author has used this approach extensively all over the world with groups of people from 6 – 80 to very promising effect. Based on the relatively new perspective of evolutionary spirituality and using one particular form called evolutionary enlightenment, this dialogue shifts the focus of attention from being largely on the separate self sense, instead to the creative impulse in each person, which can be seen as not different than the religious impulse. A powerful experience of unity is often felt while simultaneously releasing creativity and greatly enhancing autonomy. This evolutionary and integral approach shows much potential in overcoming the limitations of pluralism while not sacrificing the undoubted great benefits.

    Keynote Lecture

    Prof. Rosemary Radford Ruether: Ecofeminism and Interfaith Dialogue
    Claremont Graduate University, USA
    Professor Emeritus

    Abstract: Background: development of feminist theology across religions: Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity; transnational feminist networks; ecology and interfaith dialogue. Main topic: development of Ecofeminism; ecofeminism.in different religions; the promise of ecofeminist interfaith dialogue.

    11/11

    Colloquium Session: Dialogue and its Social Impact

    Dr Maureen Sier: ‘Interfaith Dialogue and the Scottish Government’
    Equality Unit, Scottish Government, UK
    Interfaith Development Officer

    Abstract: Although interfaith dialogue and activities have been taking place in Scotland for over 30 years, it is only in the last 10 that there has been support from Government at the local and national level. This paper will look at a brief history of interfaith dialogue in Scotland; will explore current and future plans for Government support; and will begin to explore the implications, both positive and negative, for Government involvement in interfaith dialogue.

    Prof. Alwi Shihab: TBC
    Indonesian Government, Indonesia
    Special Minister to the President of Indonesia

    Abstract: TBR

    Prof. Racelle Weiman: TBC
    Temple University, USA
    Executive Director Global Dialogue Institute

    Abstract: TBR

    Postgraduate Papers A

    Mel Prideaux and Christian Kaestner: ‘Truth and the Lived Reality of Dialogue’
    Leeds University, UK
    Doctoral Students

    Abstract: The term ‘interfaith dialogue’ is used for a range of discourses that take place in a variety of settings and with different goals. As ‘truth’ is an essential feature in religious discourse, it is generally assumed that truth is also essential in interfaith dialogue. Truth is furthermore often perceived to be the ‘problem’ that both necessitates interfaith dialogue, but forestalls or forecloses it at the same time. In our paper we will suggest a categorization of different kinds of interfaith dialogue based on an appropriation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and discuss the aim and ‘inner logic’ of each kind of dialogue. Using data drawn from two fieldwork sites: Faith Together in Leeds 11, in Beeston, South Leeds, and the Interfaith Tandem Learning project at Sheffield University, we will argue that only a particular kind of interfaith dialogue is primarily concerned with religious truth claims and that other interfaith discourses may show little or no influence of questions of doctrinal truth

    Janan Izadi: ‘Interfaith Dialogue: Searching for a Semantic Model’
    University of Tehran, Iran
    Doctoral student

    Abstract: Postmodernism and the collapse of great metanarratives made an opportunity to get released from exclusive authority of modernist wisdom and science and the presence of all narratives in the scientific discourse and practical domains. However, radical relativism in this framework would lead to an epistemic anarchism which blocks every scientific dialogue. Some scholars attempt to make a ground for dialogue and scientific movements being careful about postmodern realities. These approaches promote a pluralistic, not a single and authoritative rationality, and a balanced, not an unbiased objectivity. These methodologies explore the possibility of peace, democracy, and integration among different perspectives. Such dialogues need intercultural models. One of those is a semantic model which can be adapted from the works of Toshihiko Izutsu. He is careful about the contextualization of concepts along with the existence of some similar bases of human conscience within all ages, nations and places which make the dialogue possible. Semantic method in his view point is analyzing key words of a language in order to find the weltanschauung of a nation. Among the key words, some words can be considered selectively or randomly as a focus word in relation to which the other concepts are understandable. Therefore, if a common focus word can be obtained in two ideological surround, a common language is accessible as well as the dialogue and the exchange of ideas.
    (Paper authors: Janan Izadi: PHD student, University of Tehran, Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies, Department of Islamic Philosophy, University of Tehran, Iran; Ahad Faramarz Gharamaleki PHD: Professor, University of Tehran, Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies, Department of Islamic Philosophy; Hamidreza Namazi: MD, Palliative Care Committee member, University of Tehran, Department of Professional Ethics).

    Sofie von Hauch: ‘Ramakrishna, Besant, Leadbetter and Personal Dialogue’
    University of Glasgow, UK
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: starting from an understanding of religious pluralism as a personal, existential recognition of salvific elements in other religions that carries practical consequences, I am investigating the lives and ideas of three contemporary pioneers of such pluralism: Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar (1836-1886), and Annie Besant (1847-1933) and Charles Leadbeater (1854-1934) of the Theosophical Society. Their biographies reveal the ways in which they lived their pluralistic conviction, and the teaching they came to formulate based on their existential approach to pluralism. Where much recent work in the area of pluralism and interfaith theology is based on theoretical perspectives and draws practical lessons on that basis, I am considering whether the practical, experiential approach raises a different set of questions in the area of religious pluralism and interfaith encounter, and what difference it makes to the current debate to begin from practice and draw theoretical conclusions, as my three pioneers did. The main issues that need to be addressed in this context are the credibility of religious experience, the nature of ‘multireligious’ identity, and the definition of ‘religion’ between individual and institution, and how a pluralistic experience of the general agreement between religions fit into this dialectic.

    Postgraduate Paper B

    Geert Drieghe: ‘Religious Pluralism in Dialogue’
    University of Glasgow, UK
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: One of the important issues in the philosophy of religion today is how to understand religious diversity in a way that both honours the claims religious believers themselves make, and allows for a constructive dialogue between traditions that is based on mutual respect and understanding. Hitherto, John Hick’s transcendental pluralism was taken to be the most effective way to approach religious diversity, and served as a theoretical guideline in inter-faith studies. Hick’s theory, albeit very attractive, has not been without its critics, and attempts have been made to develop alternative theoretical models, the most recent being Victoria Harrison’s internalist pluralism. The aim of our paper will be to hold both theories in creative tension and investigate their comparative value as a practical tool to be used for inter-faith dialogue.

    Magdalen Lambkin: Towards an Interreligious Hermeneutic of Sacred Scripture
    University of Glasgow, UK
    Doctoral student

    Abstract: This paper will present a work in progress aimed at contributing to the developing field of inter-religious hermeneutics. Summarising the basic outline and methodology of a PhD thesis entitled Towards an Interreligious Hermeneutic of Sacred Scripture, it will draw attention to the question of whether it is possible or desirable to recognise religious value in the scriptures of other religions. The initial focus is on three case studies, each involving a religion which, within its own scripture, contains a kind of hermeneutic of the scripture of the religion(s) it seeks to replace. The first case study features the appropriation of the Hebrew Bible as the “Old Testament” by Christianity. The second looks at Islamic thought in relation to the Qur’an’s supersession of the once authentic, now corrupt ‘Torah’ and ‘Gospel’. The third examines the rejection of the Vedas by the Buddhist scriptures as ‘empty’, devoid of truth. None of these traditions present a unified or systematic approach to the scriptures to which they refer, yet some basic trends can be traced, trends which have been predominantly negative. However, within the Christian view, there has been significant movement in the last 40 years towards a positive religious reflection on the Jewish Scriptures as Jewish Scriptures. It is suggested that this movement may yet have further to go and may even exert a positive influence on similar developments within other religions. The traditional models of viewing the scripture of another religion, exemplified through the case studies, will be scrutinized in light of the current developments within the ‘theology of religions’ (and its equivalents in non-Christian religions) and the modern theological recognition of the culturally conditioned nature of all scriptures. This paper will finally make some tentative suggestions as to how an alternative hermeneutical approach could be developed, making use of the methodologies within ‘comparative theology’ (K. Ward, F. Clooney, et al.) and ‘world theology’ (W. C. Smith, L. Swidler, et al.).

    Douglas P. Green: The Role of an Ethical Broker in Peace and Conflict Resolution
    University of Birmingham, UK
    Doctoral student

    Abstract: Ethnic, religious and political violence has characterized the late-twentieth century and new millennium. This unrest is calling for new ways of thinking about conflict resolution and peacemaking. In this paper I begin by addressing and developing the premise of what a paradigmatic character is and the admirable qualities they possess as described by the Abrahamic traditions. Paradigmatic characters are seen as role models or exemplars, who are perceived by individuals and groups, who possess positive and admirable qualities to be modeled. These traditions perceptively understand the fundamental position of exemplars in each tradition. Role models, as any psychologist, education or religious scholar understands, shapes and guides our ethical and social maturation and outlook. Paradigmatic characters thus contribute to a better world by exemplifying certain qualities to be developed by others. I will contend that one significant aspect of the paradigmatic character is their concern and perceived role in interreligious dialogue and peace. I critically examine a role he or she participates in society as an ethical broker of peace and conflict resolution.
    The paradigmatic character and their role as an ethical broker in peacemaking, peace-building and conflict resolution details how religious leaders can be a powerful source and resource for dissolving and controlling cross-cultural, political and religious conflict in varying regions. This, of course, isn’t anything new by asserting that religion has a prominent role in conflict resolution and peace. However, the perceived presence and character reflected by the paradigmatic’s ethical actions and commitment for peace will hopefully influence others to act more ethically and contribute to the process of peace.

    Jacob Louis Waldenmaier: ‘Reclaiming Reality: Natural Science as a Context for Interfaith Encounter’
    University of Oxford, UK
    Doctoral Student

    Abstract: The natural sciences represent a broad and highly significant field of inquiry in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews have learned from and worked with one another for centuries. However, much contemporary rhetoric – primarily from atheistic thinkers – has not only neglected this cooperation of monotheistic faiths in natural science, but has also expressed (and fomented) the notion that theism is antithetical to natural science. Their arguments derive their strength partially from the disunity of Christians and Muslims in this area.
    Kenneth Cragg’s work, especially his most recent A Christian-Muslim Inter-Text Now (2008), lays some important groundwork in various conceptual areas wherein such cooperation can be revived. A running theme is dominion (khilafah) of the earth, though not seized by humankind, but bestowed on us as a gift from God, thus meriting worshipful awe and humility as we continue to discover the world’s wonders. Thus in the natural sciences (as well as many other disciplines), Cragg puts Christians and Muslims together in opposition to ‘the exceeding secular,’ which refers to the unchecked decline of reverence of nature common to modern secular thought, whose consequence we see in increasing ideological aggression against theism from Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and others.
    Drawing inspiration from Cragg’s work, as well as from my own friendships with Muslims in Oxford, I hope to develop this image of cooperative dominion between Christians and Muslims specifically in the natural sciences as a chamber in which constructive interfaith encounter can thrive, to the point where Christians and Muslims can more effectively combat their common foe.

    For more information or questions, please contact:

    Dr Paul Hedges
    TRS
    University of Winchester
    Paul.hedges@winchester.ac.uk

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  9. Rick Joyner says:

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    • paulhedges says:

      I’m glad you like it Rick, and am happy to know that people are enjoying and appreciating it. I hope to get some more posts online shortly but am currently in quite a frenetic period workwise.

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