2-4 PAGES (SINGLE SPACE)
I wantt he Journal. By “Journal” I mean a final essay :
– where you articulate the important points you learned from this course, how the course contributed to your knowledge and your life outlook.
I need Sammury that coverd all subjects in papers in attachments and answers the questions above
GUIDING PERSPECTIVE OF OUR COURSE
I. What is Religion?
II. Why Study Religion?
III. How to properly study religion?
· A. Beyond Ethnocentrism
· B. Critical Thinking
· C. Post-colonial Epistemology
· D. Multiculturalism
· E. Religious Tolerance and the Democratic Spirit
I. WHAT IS RELIGION?
Religion is not merely a “love affair between an individual and a deity,” it is not merely the belief in the transcendence and after life or belief in the existence of God. It is not merely the worship or love of God . Beliefs have consequences for the believer and for the people around him, indeed for the way he understands the world and behaves in that world.
1. a way of life, a way of believing, thinking, being, acting and relating to the world
2. It is the self-consciousness of man
3. It is the self-esteem of man.
4. The moral compass that provides the ultimate meaning of life
5. The general theory that explains the world and the human condition, i.e the nature of humans and their role and place in this world. Religion provides the response to the metaphysical needs of the human mind to understand the world as a meaningful cosmos and to take up a position toward it.
6. The world’s enthusiasm
7. The world’s moral sanction,
8. The world’s basis of consolation and justification.
9. The heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.
10. It is the tremendous power that provides motivation, hope and psychological tranquility and reassurance.
THE FIVE MAJOR DIMENSIONS OF RELIGION: 5’Cs
Religion is an explanation of the ultimate meaning of life, based on the notion of the transcendent,and how to live accordingly. (Leonard Swidler)
It normally contains the five “C’s” : Creator, Creed, Cult, Code of behavior, and Community-structure.
A. Theoretical Dimension of religion
1. Creator (God, creation myths)
B. Practical Dimension of religion
3. Cult (worship rituals)
4. Code of Behavior
C. Sociological Dimension of religion
5. Community-Structure (Church,…)
I. WHY STUDY RELIGION?
1. “Man cannot live by the bread of science and politics alone; he also needs the vitamins of ethics and morals, faith and hope, love and security, comfort and attention in the face of death and misfortune, a feeling and experience that as a person he matters infinitely, and assurance that he is not immediately ‘forgotten’ or even annihilated when he dies. These are the elements that religion tries to offer… Religion makes a contribution in man’s search for identity and security… Invisible, unnoticed and even unofficially, the religious traditions of Africa contain the only lasting potentialities for a basis, a foundation and a direction of life for African societies.
John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy . London: Heinemann, 1989, Second edition. (first edition in 1969), p.270
2. Errors in Philosophy are ridiculous; But errors in Religion are dangerous (David Hume)
3. “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.
No peace among religions without dialogue between the religions.
No genuine dialogue among religions without an accurate knowledge of one another.”
4.“The study of religion is now of much more urgent usefulness
in the politics of today than are economics or sociology.”
5. “The twenty-first century is witnessing a resurgence and globalization of religion. Around the world, religion has become an increasingly more important and pervasive force in personal and public life, and faith and politics now play a powerful role in international affairs.”
(John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching, Todd Lewis, World Religions Today. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
HOW TO PROPERLY STUDY RELIGION
A. BEYOND ETHNOCENTRISM
-1. “The word civilization evokes powerful images and understandings. We in the United States have been taught, from elementary school onward, that a few ancient peoples-like the Egyptians or Greeks-were “civilized” and that civilization achieved its highest level of development here and in other Western countries. Civilization, we are told, is beneficial, desirable-and definitely preferable to being uncivilized. The idea of civilization thus always implicitly involves a comparison: the existence of civilized people implies that there are uncivilized folk who are inferior because they are not civilized. Uncivilized peoples, for their part, have either been told that they can never become civilized or that they should become civilized as soon as possible.”
Patterson, Thomas C., Inventing Western Civilization.
(New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997); p.9.
– 2. “We have been taught, inside the classroom and outside of it, that there exists an entity called the West, and that one can think of this West as a society and civilization independent of and in opposition to other societies and civilizations. Many of us even grew up believing that this West has a genealogy, according to which ancient Greece begat Rome, Rome begat Christian Europe, Christian Europe begat the Renaissance, the Renaissance the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment political democracy and the industrial revolution. Industry, crossed with democracy, in turn yielded the United States, embodying the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Wolf, Eric R., Europe and The People without History. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p.5
3. The assumption that civilization cannot exist at the equator is contradicted by continuous tradition. And God knows better!
Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah , trans. F. Rosenthal, 3 vols.
(Princeton, 1967), vol.I, p.71.
4. Those who expect to see in their fellow men fools, blockheads or devils, will find evidence to confirm their prejudices. If we are convinced the other fellow cannot sing, we have only to call his song “a hellish row” in order to justify our claim. Simply by applying a certain vocabulary one can easily turn Gods into idols, faces into grimaces, votive images into fetishes, discussions into palavers and distort real objects and matters of fact through bigotry and prejudice. Prejudice has created types in the mind of the public. Only the most highly cultivated person, humane, cosmopolitan, enlightened, progressive, counts as a “real European.” A “real African,” on the other hand, lives in the bush, carves “primitive” scriptures, can neither read nor write, goes naked, lives carefree and happy from day to day and tells fairy stories about the crocodile and the elephant. The more “primitive,” the more “really African.” But an African who is enlightened and cosmopolitan, who presides in the most cultivated fashion over congresses, who makes political speeches or write novels, no longer counts as a “real” African.
Jahn, Janheinz, Munt: African culture and the Western world.
(New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990); pp.19-20.
5. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea-something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to.
Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness, in Adler, Mortimer J., ed., Imaginative Literature.
Great Books of the Western World (Chicago, London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1994); p.137
6. “The full story of religion is not rose-colored; often it is crude. Wisdom and charity are intermittent, and the net result is profoundly ambiguous. A balanced view of religion would include human sacrifice and scapegoating, fanaticism and persecution, the Christian Crusades and the holy wars of Islam. It would include witch hunts in Massachusetts, monkey trials in Tennessee, and snake worship in the Ozarks. The list would have no end.
(Huston Smith, The World’s Religions. HarperSanFrancisco, 1991; p.4)
7. “Normally persons talk about other people’s religions as they are, and about their own as it ought to be.” (Wilfred Cantwell Smith, 1962).
8. “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” (Henry Wadsworth longfellow)
9. “We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would sooner die than think – in fact, they do so.”
(The ABC of Relativity, p.165)
10. Opinion of A CSUN student (World Religions, Midterm Exam, Fall, Oct. 15th 2004)
“Non-Christian religions do not believe Jesus was the son of God. And because of that they do not have all the same morals and values as Christians do. Christians try to live life as Jesus would, as clean and pure as possible.
Non-Christians do not try to live to that high moral standard. Now this isn’t because they are trying to rebel, but more because this is their belief.
“The Egyptians did not follow the same ethical laws as the Christian Ten Commandments. They worshiped many gods. In fact they had a god for almost everything. They stole others’ goods and possessions all the time. If they killed someone it did not seem to be a big deal. Their values and morals were definitely on a different page. They were living in sin and loving every minute of it.”
11. “Those who believe in the unity of humankind, and those who believe in the unity of God, should be prepared therefore to discover a unity of humankind’s religious history. We are not so prepared, however… The unity of humankind’s religious history is obvious, once one sees it. We have, however, been assiduously trained not to see it. Even more, strongly, we have been pressured not to think it; and not to feel it. Yet today it beckons our minds… An ambition of mine has for some time been to try my hand, before I die, at writing a world history of religion in the singular… My point is that every religious tradition on earth has in fact developed in interaction with the others; not in isolation, in some watertight compartment. This point might seem obvious, or even trivial, did it not play havoc with much traditional theology – and even, more subtly, with traditional conceptualizations… New in Christendom is the acceptance of pluralism. The history of man’s religious life, which for some centuries was divided into self-conscious parts, is beginning to include also a developing history of diverse instances of self-consciousness of the whole; instances open to each other.”
Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology: Faith in the Comparative History of Religion.
(Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1989; pp.4, 6, 15, and p.180
12. Christianity as a powerful source of prejudice
Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in the sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do – and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad and need restraining or suppressing. It is a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right, have a magical eye which sees the truth, and that others cannot be right if they disagree”
Our ancient religious metaphors create that kind of negative psychological archetypes at our centers. These inflame our prejudices and the psychodynamics behind them.
At the center this is a spiritual problem, and there is no fixing it except with a spiritual renewal, which is framed and shaped and driven by a theology of grace, a religion of grace, a sociology of grace, and a self-psychology of grace. Divine grace! Human grace! Grace is unconditional positive regard for the other”
…Unless we radically revise our theology of sacred scriptures in all three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), we cannot escape the prison house of prejudice, we cannot transcend the built-in bigotry, we cannot become fully human, we cannot become fully spiritual or religious),” w e cannot achieve world peace. Negative views of other religions are a form of prejudice, and as such they are dangerous because they distort the truth and lead to violent consequences.
As a way of thinking, prejudice is an idea, a thought, a conclusion, a theory, a way of knowing, understanding and explaining the world that has some specific characteristics. It is a partisan way of thinking. As such it breaks the rules of good judgment and the rules of decent and serious rational thinking. As such it falls into the category of opinions dictated by emotion. It is a partisan, dualistic, exclusivist, false, self-referential, narcissistic, infantile, immature violent, and dangerous way of thinking that is shaped by delusion, emotion, anxiety, insecurity, hatred, Ignorance, fear, and an inferiority complex masquerading as superiority complex. Prejudice always generates and is generated by an “us versus them” mindset. Prejudice produces scapegoats. But the scapegoat is merely the projection of the shadow side of the source or enactor of the prejudice. Prejudice is a need to exclude, devalue and eliminate the other. Prejudice is the irrational, unconscious or conscious, need to devalue or damage the other person or community because of the way they believe or worship the position they take, the attitudes they evince, or the behaviors they act out. But in reality for no other reason than that the other is different (from me, from my religion, my social group, my race or ethnicity, my political affiliation, etc). Prejudice is the rationalization of hatred of “the other.” Prejudice as an “us versus them” mindset It proceeds via the “invention of otherness” by using 3 mechanisms: 1) To Separate, differentiate (“he is not one of us”), 2) to Alienate, denigrate (the stranger is strange, evil and dangerous), 3) to Isolate and Exterminate (we have a divine duty to defend ourselves).
Adapted from Harold Ellens, “The Dynamics of Prejudice” in Harold Ellens, ed., The destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Volume 2. (West Port: Praeger, 2004).
13. Christianity has accustomed itself to viewing other religions as “idolatry” and itself as the true religion founded by God himself. However, as important Christian theologians such as Karl Barth and Cantwell Smith have confessed, it has increasingly become clear to many that such a view is pure arrogance. History shows that Christianity is not the perfect divine religion it claims to be. Indeed various forms of idolatry are found within Christianity itself. These include, among others, Christian view of Jesus, the Bible, the Church and Christianity itself as a religion, the truth of Christian theologies, the way Christians view themselves, and Christian arrogant and distorted view of other religions. Indeed many Christian thinkers are now aware that Christianity like many other world religions is man-made, and as such it stands in opposition to the Will of God. Man-made Christianity is a form of idolatry, even Atheism. A of the most outspoken exponent of this form of criticism is the famous theologian Karl Barth who pointed out the utter inadequacy of Christianity as an expression of that which it ought to express.
In fact Karl Barth made the following observation:
“We must insist, therefore, that at the beginning of a knowledge of the truth of the Christian religion, there stands the recognition that this religion, too, stands under the judgment that religion is unbelief… Concretely this judgment affects the whole practice of our faith:
our Christian worship,
our forms of Christian fellowship and order,
our Christian morals,
poetry and art,
our attempts to give individual and social form to the Christian life,
our Christian strategy and tactics in the interest of our Christian cause,
in short our Christianity, to the extent that it is our Christianity, the human work which we undertake and adjust to all kinds of near and remote aims and which as such is seen to be on the same level as the human work in other religions. This judgment means that all this Christianity of ours, and all the details of it, are not as such what they ought to be and pretend to be… What we have here is in its own way – a different way from that of other religions, but no less seriously – UNBELIEF, I.e. , opposition to the divine revelation, and therefore ACTIVE IDOLATRY and self-righteousness.”
Cited by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991); p.304
14. “Much though I admire some of Bishop Heber’s other hymns, such as his widely used “Holy, Holy, Holy,” yet I have certainly objected to the lines that run, “The heathen in his blindness bows down to the wood and stone,” ever since I came to recognize that in that situation it was the missionary, rather, that was blind. Of course, I have not been alone among Christians in feeling restless with the attitude set forth in that type of wording…Christians have often been accused of being, and have come to recognize themselves as indeed having been arrogant and disdainful in their fundamental metaphysical view of other religious practitioners. For centuries it was Jews who paid the chief price for this profound Christian error, and the Church has fortunately become repentant, to a considerable degree, about its resulting horrendous treatment of the Jews over the ages…Much of the (Christian) Church now recognizes that its former attitude to other religious communities was wrong. It has been slowly wrestling with the question of what will be involved in setting it right; what new attitude may legitimately replace that old one... Idolatry is not a notion that clarifies other religious practices or other outlooks than one’s own. Idolatry denigrates one’s neighbour by leaving out the transcendence of his or her position…The word idolatry or “idol-worship” (as applied by Christians to non-Christian religions) must be rejected because the conception that it usually communicate is one that distorts what it purports to name… No one has ever worshipped an idol. Some have worshipped God in the form of an idol: that is what the idols are for. The important issue for our purposes here remains that of whether one applies the notion of idolatry to the religious life of all communities, or instead endeavours to exempt one’s own giving it a privileged status or supposing that God has given it that. We would do well, on the other hand, to recognize that we Christians have substantially been idolaters, insofar as we have mistaken for God, or as universally final, the particular forms of Christian life or thought. Christianity – for some, Christian theology – has been our idol. For Christians to see Christ as divine is a perception (put in conceptual terms), a perception that their own personal experience, and two thousand years of Church history, elicit and confirm. It is, however, impossible to perceive him as the sole such mediator; although one can hold this as a theological proposition… One cannot perceive the non-divinity of Krishna, or of the Qur’an. To believe that other groups’ forms are not divine is purely doctrinal construct. To hold that Buddhist, or post-Biblical Jewish, life is not the locus of God’s salvific activity, fully comparable to God’s activity in Christian life, is a sheer man-made hypothesis. The position has – inescapably – no direct grounding in reality. The doctrine of the divinity of Christ is a conceptual form of Christians’ knowledge of God. The doctrine of other religious patterns’ non-divinity is an intellectual formulation of ignorance: an ignorance of the life of those for whom those patterns are rich. For Christians to think that Christianity is true, or final, or salvific, is a form of idolatry. For Christians to imagine that God has constructed Christianity, or the Church, rather than that He has inspired us to construct it, as He has inspired Muslims to construct what the world knows as Islam, or Hindus what is miscalled Hinduism, or inspired Bach to write the B Minor Mass – that is idolatry…Exclusive or final claims for one’s own (religion, theology) is idolatry in the pejorative sense… Christian theologies are ‘idols.’ Theologies are conceptual images of God. But they are not God. God does not reveal theologies, but himself. Every theology is finite, human and mundane (not divine). Every theology is a human construct, and conveys a very limited truth.Theologies are always approximations to truth. Our knowledge of God and our theologies can never be complete, nor final. So to absolutize one’s own theology is idolatry. It is wrong for our intellects to absolutize their own handiwork.”
Cantwell Smith, Idolatry in Comparative Perspective.
And Cantwell Smith, Towards A World Theology, p.180
15. Following the example of Paul, the church became Greek with the Greek world and barbarian with the European barbarian world. However, it has not become Arabic with the Arabs, black with the blacks, Indian with the Indians, or Chinese with the Chinese. Viewed as a whole, the Church of Jesus Christ has remained a European-American affair.”
Hans Kung, Concile et retour à l’unité (Paris: Cerf, 1961), pp.14-15. Cited by Ngindu Mushete, “The History of Theology in Africa: From Polemics to Critical Irenics” in Appiah-Kubi, Kofi and Torres, Sergio, eds., African theology en route. (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979), p.26.
16. The danger of anthropomorphism (creating God in our own image, God as a private property)
Xenophanes’ challenge to the Anthropomorphism of the Olympian Pantheon and Greek Civil Religion:
“Mortal men believe that gods are begotten, and that they have the dress, voice, and body of mortals. The Ethiopians claim that their gods are snub-nosed and black; the Thracians, that theirs are blue-eyed and red-headed. If Oxen, horses, or lions had hands with which to sketch and fashion works of art as men do. Then horses would draw the forms of gods like horses, oxen like oxen, and they would each make their gods’ bodies similar in frame to the bodies that they themselves possess… No! One god there is, greatest among gods and humankind, in no way like mortals in body or in the thought of his mind. In his entirety, he sees; in his entirety, he thinks; in his entirety, he hears. Always in the same place, he remains, moving not at all; it is not fitting that he should shift about now here and, then, elsewhere. But holding aloof from toil, he sets all things aquiver with the thought of his mind.”
17. Ten plagues that generate pseudo-religiosity
– 1. Philautia:
– egocentrism, ethnocentrism, tribalim,
– racism, sexism, classism or capitalism as pursuit of personal gain
– nationalism, patriotism,
– militarism, imperialism, colonialism.
=> philautia produces “civil religion” rather than “genuine spirituality.” Here people claim to worship God, but in reality their worship themselves (self-worship), their nation, their race, their gender privileges, their economic class, their wealth, etc
– 2. Libido dominandi
– 3. Alliance between “Avoir, Pouvoir, and Savoir.”
– 4. Immaturity (inability to handle discernment and critical thinking)
– 5. Ignorance and blindness
– 5. Arrogance (often inferiority complex masquerading as superiority complex)
– 6. Fear, anxiety, insecurity
– 7. inferiority complex, low self-esteem, fragile ego (the idea that in order to feel somebody one has to feel superior to others)
– 8. Provincialism, inability to thing big, the embrace the global community
and Dualism and Cult of difference (segregation mindset, discrimination mentality), inability to love humanity as a whole.
– 10. Theology of Election and Exclusion: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus doctrine, concept of revelation, concept of idolatry, concept of “chosen people.”
18. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PATIOTISM? (Voltaire and Nietzsche)
In a study titled “Patrie: Fatherland” Voltaire denounced a “Patriotic madness” which maintains that in order to love one’s own nation one has to hate, dominate, oppress, and exploit people of other nations:
He who burns with ambition to become aedile, tribune, praetor, consul, dictator, cries out that he loves his country, and he loves only himself . Every man wants to be sure that he can sleep at home without another man arrogating to himself the power to make him sleep elsewhere. Every man wants to be sure of his fortune and his life… There cannot be a state on earth which was not first governed as a republic: it is the normal course of human nature… When we discovered America we found all the tribes divided into republics…Is it better today for one’s country to be a monarchical or a republican state? This question has been debated for 4,000 years. Apply for a solution to the rich, they all prefer an aristocracy. Question the people, they want democracy. Only kings prefer a monarchy. How then is it possible that nearly the whole world is governed by monarchs? Ask the rats who proposed to hang a bell round the cat’s neck… It is sad that, to be a good patriot, one is often the enemy of the rest of humanity. The elder Cato, that good citizen, when speaking in the senate, always said: ‘Such are my views, and let Carthage be destroyed.’ To be a good patriot is to want one’s city to be enriched by commerce and powerful in arms. It is obvious that a country cannot gain unless another loses, and that it cannot vanquish without causing unhappiness. So it is the human condition that to wish for the greatness of one’s fatherland is to wish evil to one’s neighbours. The citizen of the universe would be the man who wishes his country never to be either greater or smaller, richer or poorer .
(Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary. Penguin Books, 1972; pp.327-329).
A human being who strives for something great regards everybody he meets on his way either as a means or as a delay and hindrance – or as a temporary resting-place. The lofty goodness towards his fellow men which is proper to him becomes possible only when he has reached his height and he rules. Impatience and his consciousness that until that time he is condemned to comedy – for even war is a comedy and a concealment, just as every means conceals the end – spoil all his association with others: this kind of man knows solitude and what is most poisonous in it.” (Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil, §273)
Nietzsche on European Patriotism and Xenophobia
“Every people has its own tartuffery and calls it its virtues…” We “good Europeans”: we too have our hours when we permit ourselves a warm-hearted patriotism , a lapse and regression into old loves and narrownesses, hours of national ebullition, of patriotic palpitations and floods of various outmoded feelings . More ponderous spirits than we may have done with what in our case is confined to a few hours and is then over only after a longer period: one takes half a year, another half a life, according to the speed and power with which he digests it and of his “metabolism….If a people is suffering and wants to suffer from nationalistic nervous fever and political ambition, it must be expected that all sorts of clouds and disturbances – in short, little attacks of stupidity – will pass over its spirit into the bargain: among present-day Germans, for example, now the anti-French stupidity, now the anti-Jewish, now the anti-Polish, now the Christian-romantic, now the Wagnerian, now the Teutonic, now the Prussian (just look at those miserable historians, those Sybels and Treitschkes, with their thickly bandaged heads – ), and whatever else these little obfuscations of the German spirit and conscience may be called…. About the Jews, for example: listen. – I have never met a German who was favourably inclined towards the Jews; and however unconditionally all cautious and politic men may have repudiated real anti-Jewism, even this caution and policy is not directed against this class of feeling itself but only against its dangerous immoderation, and especially against the distasteful and shameful way in which this immoderate feeling is expressed – one must not deceive oneself about that .” (Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil,).
19. RELIGION, PATRIOTISM AND COLONIAL EMPIRES
19. 1. “Religious” Patriotism and the Spanish empire
Christopher Columbus interpreted his own work of exploration in explicitly religious terms:
“God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John… Let Christ rejoice on earth, as he rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many nations hitherto lost.”
John Corrigan, Frederick M. Denny, Carlos M.N. Eire, Martin S. Jaffee, Jews, Christians, Muslims: A comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998); p.192
At the time of the so-called discovery of America, a time dominated by Catholic kings of Spain and Portugal, Spain had just completed its liberation from Islam by expelling in 1492 from its territory both the remnants of the Muslim occupation that had lasted almost seven hundred years, and the Jewish community. The ‘discovery’ of America completed the glory of Spain, then regarded as ‘the country where the sun never sets.’ Spanish patriotic fever reached its highest level. The sense of being God’s special country, the bastion and bulwark of a triumphant Christendom was confirmed by the Pope who declared the kings of Spain the most Christian kings and gave them the divine right to conquer, dispossess and enslave the enemies of Christ. Thus Spain combined its dream of possessing the land of the Golden Fleece (gold, silver, and all kinds of wealth), its quest for glory, power, and wealth, with the “glorious Crusade” spirit of its militaristic patriotism, and its self-image and self-definition as the chosen people.
But how could a Christian and healthy mind preach a God of love and peace, while engaging in the violent conquest of foreign lands and genocide? Spaniards with a conscience could not avoid this question. However as the case of conquistador Hernan Cortes shows, an elaborated justification of war and looting was well articulated through the demonization of Native Americans and their religions. This was made possible by the dogmatic understanding of Christianity as the only true religion. Conquest came to be viewed as Spain’s divine mission, its “mandate from heaven.” But how could a Christian and healthy mind preach a God of love and peace, while engaging in the violent conquest of foreign lands and genocide? Spaniards with a conscience could not avoid this question. However as the case of conquistador Hernan Cortes shows, an elaborated justification of war and looting was well articulated through the demonization of Native Americans and their religions. This was made possible by the dogmatic understanding of Christianity as the only true religion. Speaking about his own experience, Hernan Cortes, one of the early and most famous ‘conquistadores’ explained in his own words how Spaniards managed to reconcile in their mind and heart their love for Christ, their imperialistic spirit of Conquest, and the genocide of Native Americans. Here is Cortes in his own words:
“Many times I have played in my thoughts with such difficulties [the war with the Aztec people] and I must confess that sometimes I felt quite restless in my thoughts. But, looking at it from other angles, there are many things that give me courage and satisfaction. In the first place, the dignity and holiness of our cause, because we fight for the cause of Christ when we fight against idol worshippers who, as such, are enemies of Christ since they worship demons instead of the God of kindness and omnipotence, and we wage war both to punish those who persist in their idolatry and to open to those who have accepted the authority of Christians and of our King… But other thoughts come also to my mind: that is, the benefits that we can obtain if we come out victorious, because there are many other reasons for fighting these wars… There are some who fight for land and things, others for power and glory… And many times find satisfaction for their ambitions when, having defeated their enemies, they control the lands and the cities… But it is not only one of these causes but all of them at the same time that move and constrain us to continue this war.”
(These words by Hernan Cortes are quoted by Gines de Sepulveda in his Cronica Indiana)
See Jose Miguez Bonino, “Theology of Latin America” in John Parratt, ed., An Introduction to Third World Theologies. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); p.17.
19.2. RELIGIOUS PATRIOTISM AND GERMAN NATIONALISM
The blending of Christianity with modern nationalisms, and precisely the involvement of theology in ideologies of “national destiny” and “national identity” reveals a striking parallelism between the nationalism of many countries and that German nationalism which led to totalitarianism and holocaust.
Germany emerged in modern times as the paradigmatic example of Christian national self-understanding. The early twentieth century witnessed what pastor Reinhold Dietrich called “the Christianizing of Germanness” and “the Germanizing of Christianity.”
The process of Germanizing Christianity led to the outright identification of Christianity with German national aspirations to greatness. The twentieth century followed in this the previous movements of Romanticism and Renaissance created in reaction to French dominance and the patriotism generated by the struggle for the unification of a land which was then divided in almost three hundred small kingdoms. It is worth noting that “theological nationalism” did not grow simply as the result of State control over powerless churches. During the nineteenth century, for example, it is at the very moment Germany was developing various programs for loosening state control of churches that the notion of a special German Christianity grew more popular, and with it the notion of the uniqueness of the German people in the world and in God’s plan of salvation.
Friedrich Schleiemacher articulated that view more explicitly around the notion of “Volk.”“Each volk,” he wrote, “was designated to illustrate a special aspect of the image of God, in its own peculiar setting and by its own specially determined position in the world.” This view gave birth to a German religious patriotism that linked Germany, the Bible, Martin Luther, and the duty to bring a particular brand of Christian piety to the rest of the world. A German theology of Election was born to replace Israel in God’s favor. During the First World War, German pastors compared their congregations to the “chosen people” of the Old Testament and referred to the nation as “the Israel of the New Covenant.”
Johann Kessler, a Lutheran pastor in Dresden, moved forward to formulate an explanation of such a new theology of election:
“We believe in a world calling for our nation. A nation that God has equipped with such gifts of the Spirit and such depths of mind, that he called to be a bearer of the gospel in the days of the Reformation… God has great things in store for such a nation… We are the tools with which God will construct his Kingdom today. We are the soldiers with which he will win his victory.”
Corrigan, John, et al., Jews, Christians, Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions. (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998); p.459.
19.3. MANIFEST DESTINY, “NEW ISRAEL” (CHOSEN NATION?)
The American Civil religion:
“a religion without God or Christianity without Christ.”
“In the United States,” Tocqueville said, “religion … is mingled with all the habits of the nation and all the feelings of patriotism, whence it derives a peculiar force…Most of what is good and most of what is bad in our history is rooted in our public theology. Every movement to make America more fully realize its professed values has grown out of some form of public theology, from the abolitionists to the social gospel and the early socialist party to the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King and the farm worker’s movement under Cesar Chavez. But so has every expansionist war and every form of oppression of racial minorities and immigrant groups.”…At the end of the nineteenth century, America emerged as a global power… To maintain its status and security it would presumably have to compete in a hard-nosed manner with the other great powers in the world, as it had not had to do and had been unable to do during most of the nineteenth century…The relation between realism and moralism thus became the central issue of American foreign policy in the twentieth century, as Americans, in McDougall’s words, redefined their country from “promised land” to “crusader state.”
To better understand this American self-definition as a “Promised Land” we have to understand the role that civil religion plays in America.
What is civil religion in the American context? What are its dogma, symbols, rituals, and creed? What do the devotees of Civil Religion believe in?
A good start is to look at the role of the flag and the symbols on the dollar bill, to watch a football game, and to listen carefully to national anthem and any political speech by American officials. Here we find a Church at work, with its sacred symbols and ceremonies, its rites and rituals, its high priests and saints, its martyrs and heroes. Prima facie, this Church seems like any other Church focused on the Worship of God or Jesus. But at a close scrutiny, it appears that this is a church of a different kind. A Church preoccupied not with salvation in Heaven, but with the well-being hic et nunc, a Church in search of prosperity and posterity. Here the slogan “In God We Trust” and “In Gold We Trust” are merely two natural faces of the same coin. Such a church is secular, materialistic, and highly political, all the while sanctified by the garbs of spirituality. One finds here, in Bob Kaiser’s words, a Church of “people caught up in self-worship,” self-glorification, self-aggrandizing, and self-righteousness. Such a kind of Religion, as Kaiser rightly observed “represents a danger for the entire planet.” Civil Religion is a spiritual self-delusion…
“Civil religion converts Americans from religious people of many denominations into a nation with the soul of a church. But apart from its being American, what is that church? It is a church that has included Protestants, Catholics, Jews, other non-Christians, and even agnostics. America’s civil religion is a nondenominational, national religion and, in its articulated form, not expressly a Christian religion…Washington becomes Moses, Lincoln becomes Christ. While the American Creed is Protestantism without God, the American civil religion is Christianity without Christ… In the past when children recited daily the American’s Creed” in schools, they performed a religious exercise as truly as if they began their day by saying, ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’ or ‘There is no God but God… Since the Civil War, Americans have been a flag-oriented people. The Stars and Stripes has the status of a religious icon and is a more central symbol of national identity for Americans than their flags are for peoples of other nations. Probably never in the past, however, was the flag as omnipresent as it was after September 11. It was everywhere: homes, businesses, automobiles, clothes, furniture, windows, storefronts, lampposts, telephone poles. In early October, 80 percent of Americans said they were displaying the flag, 63 percent at home, 29 percent on clothes, 28 percent on cars. Wal-Mart reportedly sold 116,000 flags on September 11 and 250,000 the next day, “compared with 6,400 and 10,000 on the same days a year earlier.” The demand for flags was ten times what it had been during the Gulf War; flag manufacturers went overtime and doubled, tripled, or quintupled production. The flags were physical evidence of the sudden and dramatic rise in the salience of national identity for Americans compared to their other identities…The post-September 11 flags symbolized America, but they did not convey any meaning of America. Some national flags, such as the tricolor, the Union Jack, or Pakistan’s green flag with its star and crescent, say something significant about the identity of the country they represent. The explicit visual message of the Stars and Stripes is simply that America is a country that originally had thirteen and currently has fifty states. Beyond that, Americans, and others, can read into the flag any meaning they want. The post-September 11 proliferation of flags may well evidence not only the intensified salience of national identity to Americans but also their uncertainty as to the substance of that identity.
As ambiguous as it may be the American flag is also the potent symbol of the American civil religion which is also as ambiguous as the flag that symbolizes it. In comparison to Europe, America is often presented as the most religious nation in the West, some even say in the World. But what is the nature of this American religion and what kind of God is worshipped in Civil Religion? American civil religion is summarized in the American Creed which includes belief in private property, individualism, democracy, liberty, equality, human rights and the rule of law. The Core of American religious Creed as Huntington pointed out is made up of the Anglo-Protestant culture with its political Creed of Liberty, Democracy, and one might add, the fundamental belief in Market economy or Capitalism, and Patriotism. This has been made explicit in the current presidential race where in various types of political rally, thousands of people hold signs that read “We Believe in America.” This is also a belief in material prosperity, a faith in the gospel of wealth so beautifully expressed in the phrase “In God we Trust” which stands on American dollars. Here the “In God We Trust” is coterminous with “In Gold We Trust.” Thus faith in God is wonderfully reconciled with faith in Capitalism. This also means that whatever hinders the ability to increase wealth in a free market is considered not only antithetical to freedom, but also antithetical to the will of God. Indeed, people are ready to die for wealth and for the country that produces such wealth than for Jesus Christ. ”
“America was founded as a Protestant society, and for two hundred years almost all Americans were Protestant. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, America was seen as a Protestant country by others, and America was identified as Protestant in textbooks, maps, and literature. With the substantial Catholic immigration first from Germany and Ireland and then Italy and Poland, the proportion of Protestants declined fairly steadily. By 2000, about 60 percent of Americans were Protestants. Protestant beliefs, values, and assumptions, however, had been the core element, along with the English language, of America’s settler culture, and that culture continued to pervade and shape American life, society, and thought as the proportion of Protestants declined. Because they are central to American culture, Protestant values deeply influenced Catholicism and other religions in America. They have shaped American attitudes toward private and public morality, economic activity, government, and public policy. Most importantly, they are the primary source of the American Creed, the ostensibly secular political principles that supplement Anglo-Protestant culture as the critical defining element of what it means to be an American.
Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity?
New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004; pp.105-106.
Being an American. What does this entail?
To be an American one has to be Patriotic. And this means:
1. to believe in the principles of the American Creed:
· private property,
· democracy, liberty, equality, human rights
· and the rule of law.
2. and to live by the Protestant Ethic:
· to be self-reliant,
· and morally upright.
3. to speak English language
4. to take pride in American identity
· to Worship Capitalism
· to believe that private property is always sacred
· to worship the Flag,
· to venerate the Founding Fathers,
· To venerate the “soldiers” (martyrs and saints) and to support the Military totally, without criticism
· To support US Foreign Policy without criticism.
· To believe that the US is nO.1 country in the world in all aspects, and that it must remain so for ever; and to believe that any other country that wants to become n.1 is evil and goes against the will of God.
· to believe that the US is the kingdom of God, the most religious and compassionate nation on earth, the nation of “chosen people” which only does good in the world, promoting freedom, peace and democracy, helping economically the poor, and never committing any crime or evil toward other nations, never supporting dictators, and never assassinating foreign leaders, never exploiting economically poor nations. Although voices denouncing mischiefs in foreign policy and misbehavior in the conduct of war against foreign lands exist, they are rejected as lies, as antipatriotic and hostile to the well-being of the chosen nation. Those who raise criticism are viewed as people that “hate America.”
· To believe that the US is essentially a peaceful country, the country of “peace loving people and leaders” who go to war only when they are forced to by evil dictators, and to liberate people oppressed by their own brutal tyrants.
19.4. RELIGION, PREJUDICE, NATIONALISM, PATRIOTISM, AND COLONIALISM
The role of Christian missionaries in the colonial enterprise
“Three major figures, from the fifteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, determined modalities and the pace of mastering, colonizing, and transforming the “Dark Continent”: the explorer, the soldier, and the missionary… Of all “these bearers of the African burden,” the missionary was, paradoxically, the best symbol of the colonial enterprise. He devoted himself sincerely to the ideals of colonialism: the expansion of Civilization, the dissemination of Christianity, and the advance of Progress. With equal enthusiasm, he served as an agent of a political empire, a representative of a civilization, and an envoy of God… As A.J. Christopher rightly observed “missionaries, possibly more than members of other branches of the colonial establishment, aimed at the radical transformation of indigenous society… They therefore sought, whether consciously or unconsciously, the destruction of pre-colonial societies and their replacement by new Christian societies in the image of Europe.”…
The missionary played an essential role in the general process of expropriation and, subsequently, exploitation of all the “new found lands” upon the earth. As G. Williams puts it, if in many areas his presence “helped to soften the harshness of European impact on the indigenous peoples whose lands were invaded and exploited,” his “fervour was allied, rather than opposed to commercial motive.” The scramble for Africa in the nineteenth century took place in an atmosphere of Christian revival: the age of Enlightenment and its criticism of religion had ended…
The more carefully one studies the history of missions in Africa, the more difficult it becomes not to identify it with cultural propaganda, patriotic motivations, and commercial interests, since the missions’ program is indeed more complex than the simple transmission of the Christian faith. From the sixteenth century to the eighteenth, missionaries were, through all the “new worlds,” part of the political process of creating and extending the right of European sovereignty over “newly discovered lands. In doing so, they obeyed the “sacred instructions” of Pope Alexander VI in his bull Inter Caetera (1493): to overthrow paganism and establish the Christian faith in all barbarous nations. The bulls of Nicholas V – Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455) – had indeed already given the kings of Portugal the right to dispossess and eternally enslave Mahometans, pagans, and black peoples in general. Dum Diversas clearly stipulates this right to invade, conquer, expel, and fight Muslims, pagans, and other enemies of Christ wherever they may be. Christian kings, following the Pope’s decisions could occupy pagan kingdoms, principalities, lordships, possessions and dispossess them of their personal property, land, and whatever they might have. The king and his successors have the power and right to put these peoples into perpetual slavery. The missionaries, preceding or following a European flag, not only helped their home country to acquire new lands but also accomplished a “divine” mission ordered by the Holy Father, Dominator Dominus. It was in God’s name that the Pope considered the planet his franchise and established the basic principles of terra nullius (nobody’s land), which denies non-Christian natives the right to an autonomous political existence and the right to own or to transfer ownership.
V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa. Gnosis, Philosophy, and the order of knowledge. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); pp.45-47.
20. PREJUDICE AND EDUCATIONAL PROPAGANDA
20.1. Colonization of knowledge leads to hatred (Malcolm X)
“Now what effect does the struggle in Africa have on us? Why should the Black man in America concern himself since he’s been away from the African continent for three or four hundred years? Why should we concern ourselves? What impact does what happens to them have upon us? Number one, you have to realize that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by the colonial powers. Having complete control over Africa, the colonial powers of Europe projected the image of Africa negatively. They always projected Africa in a negative light: jungle savages, cannibals, nothing civilized. it was so negative that it was negative to you and me, and you and I began to hate it. We didn’t want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it. Because you can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.
(Malcolm X, February 1965: The final Speeches. New York; Pathfinder, 1992. p.93)
20.2. Eurocentric Education as a process of “Miseducation.” (Carter G. Woodson)
The mere imparting of information is not education. Above all things, the effort must result in making a man think and for himself just as the Jews have done in spite of universal persecution… The educational system as it has developed both in Europe and America is an antiquated process which does not hit the mark even in the case of the needs of the white man himself. If the white man wants to hold on to it, let him do so; but the Negro, so far as he is able, should develop and carry out a program of his own. In light of the results obtained from the so-called education of the Negro, it may be of no importance to the race to be able to boast today of many times as many “educated” members as it had in 1865. If they are of the wrong kind the increase in numbers will be a disadvantage rather than an advantage. The only question which concerns us here is whether these “educated” persons are actually equipped to face the ordeal before them or unconsciously contribute to their own undoing by perpetuating the regime of the oppressor…
When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary. The same educational process which inspires and stimulates the oppressor with the thought that he is everything and has accomplished everything worth while, depresses and crushes at the same time the spark of genius in the Negro by making him feel that his race does not amount to much and never will measure up to the standards of other peoples. The Negro thus educated is a hopeless liability of the race… When a Negro has finished his education in our schools, then, he has been equipped to begin the life of an Americanized or Europeanized white man…
While being a good American, he must above all things be a “good Negro”; and to perform this definite function he must learn to stay in a “Negro’s place.” For the arduous task of serving a race thus handicapped, however, the Negro graduate has had little or no training at all. The people whom he has been ordered to serve have been belittled by his teachers to the extent that he can hardly find delight in undertaking what his education has led him to think is impossible. Considering his race as blank in achievement, then, he sets out to stimulate their imitation of others…The “educated Negroes” have the attitude of contempt toward their own people because in their own as well as in their mixed schools Negroes are taught to admire the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin and the Teuton and to despise the African…The thought of the inferiority of the negro is drilled into him in almost every class he enters and in almost every book he studies. If he happens to leave school after he masters the fundamentals, before he finishes high school or reaches college, he will naturally escape some of this bias and may recover in time to be of service to his people.
Practically all of the successful Negroes in this country (USA) are of the uneducated type or of that of Negroes who have had no formal education at all. The large majority of the Negroes who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people… The so-called modern education, with all its defects does others so much more good than it does the Negro, because it has been worked out in conformity to the needs of those who have enslaved and oppressed weaker peoples. For example, the philosophy and ethics resulting from our educational system have justified slavery, peonage, segregation, and lynching. The oppressor has the right to exploit, to handicap, and to kill the oppressed. Negroes daily educated in the tenets of such a religion of the strong have accepted the status of the weak as divinely ordained, and during the last three generations of their nominal freedom they have done practically nothing to change it. Their pouting and resolutions indulged in by a few of the race have been of little avail. No systematic effort toward change has been possible, for, taught the same economics, history, philosophy, literature and religion which have established the present code of morals, the Negro’s mind has been brought under the control of his oppressor… In schools of theology Negroes are taught the interpretation of the Bible worked out by those who have justified segregation and winked at the economic debasement of the Negro sometimes almost to the point of starvation. Deriving their sense of right from this teaching, graduates of such schools can have no message to grip the people whom they have been ill trained to serve. Most of such mis-educated ministers, therefore, preach to benches while illiterate Negro preachers do the best they can in supplying the spiritual needs of the masses.
Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro. (Chicago: African American Images, 2000). First published in 1933 by Associated Publishers, Washington).
20.3. The Invention of Africa
In 1954 Richard Wright spoke of the Idea of Africa as the result of a combination of various factors, economic interests, missionary motivations, and unconscious psychological needs:
It seems that the world cannot leave Africa alone. All of Europe is represented here in Africa. The businessman, the missionary, and the soldier are here, and each of them looks at the question of the meaning of human life on their earth when he looks at Africa. The businessman wants to get rich, which means that African suffering to him is an opportunity. The soldier wants to kill-for the African is “different” and is, therefore, an enemy. The missionary yearns to “save,” that is, to remake his own image; but it is not the African that he is trying to save; it is himself… One does not react to Africa as Africa is, and this is because so few can react to life as life is. One reacts to Africa as one is, as one lives; one’s reaction to Africa is one’s life, one’s ultimate sense of things. Africa is a vast, dingy mirror and what modern man sees in that mirror he hates and wants to destroy. He thinks, when looking into that mirror, that he is looking at black people who are inferior, but, really, he is looking at himself and, unless he possesses a superb knowledge of himself, his first impulse to vindicate himself is to smash this horrible image of himself which his own soul projects out upon this Africa… The European white man made Africa what he, at bottom, thought of himself; it was the rejected and the self-despised of Europe who conquered and despoiled Africa… But today Africa is not alone in her misery. She is keenly aware that there are others who would solve their problems at the expense of her misery…. To ask if Africa can be changed is to ask if man can be changed. Africa must and will become a religion, not a religion contained within the four walls of a church, but a religion lived and fought out beneath the glare of a pitiless tropic sun. The fight will be long, new, unheard of, necessitating a weighing of life in terms that modern man has not yet thought of.
Wright, Richard, Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos.
(New York: HarperPerennial, 1995); p.174-175.
B. CRITICAL THINKING AND ACTIVE LEARNING
Critical thinking as a categorical imperative of faith
1Peter 3, 13-17:
“Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear so that when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.”
2 Peter 1, 1-11: Add knowledge to your faith!
“… make every effort to supplement
your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge,
knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance,
endurance with devotion,
devotion with mutual affection,
mutual affection with love…”
1. “Teachers open the door you enter by yourself.” (Chinese proverb)
2. “He who learns but does not think is lost; He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” (Confucius, Analects 2:15)
3. “Once you have learned how to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.” (Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner)
4. The meaning of being a college student:
“What is the hardest thing in the world? To think… The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future. He must be an university of knowledge.” Waldo Emerson, “Intellect.”Cited by Cornel West, Democracy Matters, p.76-77.
5. “He who knows one, knows none”
6. “Più sai Più sei” (ignorance is not bliss; it is a crime against our own humanity)
7. “Cogito Ergo Sum” (I think therefore I am; René Descartes)
8. “We are what we think, having become what we thought.” (The Dhammapada).
=>“We are how we think, how we mind the world.”
“We are how we pray, and we pray how we think”
9. “The Unexamined life is not worth living ”
(Socrates in Plato’s The Apology).
=> “THE UNEXAMINED RELIGION IS NOT WORTH BELIEVING.” (Mutombo)
10. “What is most thought provoking in our thought-provoking time
is that we are still not thinking.
We are still not thinking, although the state of the world is becoming
constantly more thought-provoking.”
(Martin Heidegger, Was Heisst Denken?)
11. It is hard to suppress a certain disgust when contemplating men’s action upon the world stage. For one finds, in spite of apparent wisdom in detail that everything, taken as a whole, is interwoven with stupidity, childish vanity, often with childish viciousness and destructiveness. n the end, one does not know what kind of conception one should have of our species which is so conceited about its superior qualities.
(Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent, 1784. in Carl J. Friedrich, The Philosophy of Kant. Immanuel Kant’s Moral and Political Writings. New York: The Modern Library, 1993; p.129).
12. “The only thing I know is that I know that I do not know.” (Socrates)
PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
(FAITH AND REASON: VIA SOCRATICA, VIA CHRISTI)
> < Fideism, Fanaticism, Fundamentalism
NO BLIND FAITH!
Both FAITH AND REASON come from God!
1. What is Philosophy?
2. What is its contribution to religion?
3. Paradigmatic philosophers (Socrates, Jesus, Buddha,…)
4. Religious foundation of Critical Thinking
“Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales. It is not good to forget the questions that philosophy asks, or to persuade ourselves that we have found indubitable answers to them. To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.”
(Power makes you stupid)
Is ours a stupid religion?
Is ours a stupid prayer?
Is ours a stupid spirituality?
Is ours a stupid democracy?
Is ours a stupid scientific theory?
Is ours a stupid philosophy?
Is ours a stupid education system?
WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?
MAJOR COGNITIVE MODES
· A. Doxa ( Mythology, Religion)
· B. EPISTEME (Science, Philosophy)
7 Major COGNITIVE MODES
· A. SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF KNOWING
2. DIVINATION, ORACLE.
· B. NATURAL COGNITIVE MODES
3. ESP (Extra-sensory Perception)
Philosophy > < Religion
Theology = < Philosophy > = Science
WHY? WHY? HOW?
MEANING MEANING How it works
AUTHORITY REASON REASON
(God, Religious Leaders)
DOGMATIC CRITICAL CRITICAL
BELIEF THINKING THINKING
FAITH Questioning Question
Passive reception Inquiry Hypothesis
External Personal ‘Personal’
Authority authority authority
HETERONOMY AUTONOMY AUTONOMY
· 1. A Way of thinking and knowing
· – Quest for knowledge (Truth)
– Quest for Wisdom (Goodness, virtues)
· 2. A Way of Speaking
3. A Way of Being (virtues, goodness, fairness, love, universal brotherhood)
(of acting, or living)
Religion is the Ultimate Way of Knowing things
in the deepest and broadest way possible
“The history of philosophy is the history of asking questions – better and better questions.”
James L. Christian, Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering. (Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1990, 5th edition); p.23.
“Philosophy is a rendez-vous of questions and points of interrogation.”
“Philosophers are the protectors of truth upon earth.”
Hegel and Marx emphasized that philosophy is the endeavour to overcome human “estrangement” or “alienation,”
I.e. that sense of not being “at home,” in the world,
(or in one’s own religion).
Philosophy is simultaneously
– a Worldview,
– a totalization of knowledge,
– a method of investigation and explication,
– a regulative Idea,
– an offensive weapon, an instrument which ferments rotten societies (rotten religions, rotten traditions, and rotten political and economic systems)
the quest for knowledge and wisdom.
It seeks to clarify the general principles that govern our understanding of the world and to examine the language we use to describe it.
Sometimes it is speculative, moving out from our limited range of experiences to frame some overall view of reality.
Sometimes it is analytical, examining the logic of statements that might otherwise be accepted uncritically, in order to clarify what is being said.
At one level, philosophy is an academic discipline,
pursued in universities and presented in weighty tomes that may seem impenetrable to the outsider;
At another, it is the natural activity of all thinking people. Everyone who has ever asked why the universe is as it is, or why we call one thing good or beautiful and another bad or ugly, or how society should be organized, is in fact engaging in philosophy.
Philosophy is “the Art of Wondering”:
“The history of philosophy is the history of asking questions – better and better questions.”
James L. Christian, Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering. (Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1990, 5th edition); p.23.
“You philosophize when you reflect critically upon what you are actually doing in your world. What you are doing is, of course, in the first place, living. And life involves passions, faiths, doubts, and courage. The critical inquiry into what all these things mean and imply is philosophy.”
“Philosophy concerns itself only with the glory of the idea mirroring itself in the history of the world. Philosophy escapes from the weary strife of passions that agitate the surface of society into the calm region of contemplation; that which interests it is the recognition of the process of development which the idea has passed through in realizing itself, i.e., the idea of freedom, whose reality is the consciousness of freedom and nothing short of it.”
(Hegel, Philosophy of History , p.392)
Philosophy is “the Art of Wondering”:
1. Plato’s definition in Theaetetus:
“Yes, Socrates, I stand in amazement when I reflect on the questions that men ask. By the gods, I do! I want to know more and more about such questions, and there are times when I almost become dizzy just thinking about them.”
“Ah yes, my dear Theaetetus, when Theodorus called you a philosopher he described you well. That feeling of wonder is the touchstone of the philosopher, and all philosophy has its origins in wonder. Whoever reminded us that Iris (the heavenly messenger) is the offspring of Thaumas (wonder) wasn’t a bad genealogist.”
2. Aristotle’s definition in Metaphysics:
“A sense of wonder started men philosophizing, in ancient times as well as today. Their wondering is aroused, first, by trivial matters; but they continue on from there to wonder about less mundane matters such as the changes of the moon, sun, and stars, and the beginnings of the universe.
What is the result of this puzzlement? An awesome feeling of ignorance.
Men began to philosophize, therefore, to escape ignorance…”
A way of thinking rationally, that is
logically, systematically, coherently,
and with clarity and precision.
It is based on critical thinking, and
uses reason as its only tool.
Philosophy rejects all forms of argument of authority.
Philosophy is the intellectual ability to think in a critical and autocritical fashion,
It is the art of raising meaningful questions.
Philosophy begins with what Descartes called “le doute methodique”
Philosophy is the power
of Critical Thinking.
It is the relentless pursuit of truth through rational inquiry, constant doubt and questioning.
To Philosophize is to think responsibly rather than thinking by proxy.
Philosophy rejects dogma and arguments of authority.
A philosopher keeps his mind constantly open and flexible.
The Goal of Philosophy is
1) to correct the myopia of humankind.
2) to transform the way we think, act and interact. Philosophy is the ultimate educator of Humankind.
3) to Interpret the world alright – to understand it and our place in it – would free us from illusion and help us live well.
The Task of Philosophy
The French Philosopher Henri Bergson remarked that the real task of Philosophy is to answer the 3 most fundamental questions of human existence (“the three Ws”):
“Where do we come from?”
“What are we doing here?”
“Whither are we going?”
David E. Cooper, World Philosophies: An Historical Introduction .
Oxford: Blackwell, 1996; p. 3.
A PHILOSOPHER IS A PERSON THAT IS
1. Not confused 6. Not Ignorant
2. Not superficial 7. Not Blind
3. Not a “Yes-man.” 8. Not Narrow-Minded
4. Can’t be Manipulated 9. Not Fanatical
5. Can’t be Misled 10. Not dogmatic
The Ten Philosophical commandments
· 1. “Sapere Aude,” “Cogito Ergo Sum.”
Courage and Freedom: To philosophize is to have the courage to think freely. Liberation from self-inflicted immaturity. To philosophize is “to grow up.”
2. Doubt (Doute Methodique)
· 3. Questioning, the art of raising meaningful questions. A philosopher is never a “yes-man.”
· 4. A mode of thinking based on a permanent critique and autocritique. (thinking critically, analytically, challenging preconceived ideas…)
5. Critical analysis of problems and answers.
· 6. A global vision of knowledge, an approach guided by a global perspective on issues. The Philosopher is the specialist of “the whole.” (deep and broad or general thought and understanding of reality).Going to the roots of things, analyzing the deepest cause of things and reflecting on the effects of various ways of thinking or being.
· 7. Non dogmatic conception of truth, non dogmatic way of thinking. Constant Inquiry or Quest for the truth.
8. Clarity of thinking and rationality
Thinking clearly, analytically, systematically, logically (principal of non-contradiction) and in a coherent fashion. Thinking coherently and Having a coherent knowledge of things.
9. Personal responsibility (Thinking freely, not relying on external authority, religious or intellectual, No thinking by proxy).
10. Wisdom and virtues (Truth, Justice, Goodness) as a fundamental criterion of the validity of knowledge (Love of Wisdom).
The Task of Philosophy
More rigorously, philosophy is the discipline that involves creating concepts.
Philosophy is the art of
– Constructing (forming, inventing, or fabricating),
– and purifying
The philosopher is expert in concepts and in the lack of them.
He knows which of them are not viable, which are arbitrary or inconsistent,
which ones do not hold up for an instant.
On the other hand, he also knows which are well formed and attest to a creation,
however disturbing or dangerous it may be…
Ten Key words describing the nature of Philosophy
1. Enlightenment (Light of reason, Maturity)
Awake, Awareness, self-consciousness
(Philosophy is a self-conscious thought)
Not in the darkness of ignorance, superstition and fairy tales.
2. Freedom (of thought and expression):
– A philosopher does not think by proxy,
– he rejects dogmatism
– he rejects arguments of authority,
– he is fully responsible for his thought
3. Critical Thinking
4. MEANING (Quest for deep meaning of things
(Quest for Deep understanding of things)
“to understand and explain reality”
5. TRUTH (Quest for or relentless pursuit of Truth),
6. KNOWLEDGE (Quest for Knowledge
7. WISDOM (Quest for or relentless pursuit of Wisdom)
8. JUSTICE (FAIRNESS, OBJECTIVITY): not tainted by prejudice
9. Universality (no provincialism, non partisan or not prejudiced)
10. Horizontal and vertical view of reality
(General and Profound)
– General vision of reality (grasping general principles that govern reality, seeing things in their general context, have a comprehensive understanding of the totality of things)
– Profound: Deep meaning, Deepest Understanding of the Rootcauses of things
Critical Thinking process involves
3. Systematic mode of thinking
4. Coherent (non-contradiction) thought process
8. Responsibility: Rejection of dogmas and arguments of authority
9. Logic (coherency, Systematicity)
10. Reason, Rationality (the tool used to think properly)
11. Clarity, clarification (thinking in a clear fashion)
12. Search, relentless quest (no claim of dogmatic possession of truth)
Thinking=Reasoning, Reflecting, Analyzing, Comparing, Contrasting, reflecting in a logical, systematic, coherent and comprehensive way.
PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION AND ITS CONTRIBUTION
Succint definition of Philosophy of religion
(by Edgar S. Brightman):
“Philosophy of religion is
an attempt to discover
by rational interpretation of religion and
its relations to other types of experience,
the truth of religious beliefs and
the value of religious attitudes and practices.”
5 Tasks of Philosophy of religion according to William J. Abraham
(1) to clarify the central concepts of religion,
(2) to examine the internal consistency of religious concepts,
(3) to scrutinize the philosophical presupposition of faith statements;
(4) to examine the philosophical presuppositions and consistencies of statements made by apologists or assailants of religion.
(5) to explore the relationship between religion and other areas of life;
Philosophy of religion provides religion with the power of critical thinking and self-examination.
In so doing it helps religion to become
1. More Credible
2. More Authentic
3. More Meaningful
4. More Religious, more divine, more spiritual
(by overcoming Anthropomorphism, and man-made rules; to to separate the divine and what is truly spiritual from human caprice, human egocentrism, ethnocentrism and nationalism)
5. More mature
(less childish, less stupid, less tyrannical, less fanatical)
6. Coherent (avoid unnecessary contradictions)
Philosophy of religion helps
8. To distinguish what is essential in religion from superficial paraphernalia,
9. To curb fanaticism and religious violence
(to make religion more divine and more humane)
10. To Defend the raison d’etre of religion with solid arguments
C. RELIGION AND POST-COLONIAL EPISTEMOLOGY
1. “When a man who is happy compares his position with that of one who is unhappy, he is not content with the fact of his happiness, but desires something more, namely the right to this happiness, the consciousness that he has earned his good fortune, in contrast to the unfortunate one who must equally have earned his misfortune. Our everyday experience proves that there exists just such a psychological need for reassurance as to the legitimacy or deservedness of one’s happiness, whether this involves political success, superior economic status, or anything else. What the privileged classes require of religion, if anything at all, is this psychological reassurance of legitimacy.”
(Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion . Boston: Beacon Press, 1993; p.107).
2. “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance.” (Karl Marx, The German Ideology, part.I)
3. “Colonization may indeed be a very complex affair, but one thing is certain: You do not walk in, seize the land, the person, the history of another, and then sit back and compose hymns of praise in his honor. To do that would amount to calling yourself a bandit. So what do you do? You construct very elaborate excuses for your action. You say, for instance, that the man in question is worthless and quite unfit to manage himself and his affairs. If there are valuable things like gold or diamonds which you are carting away from his territory, you proceed to prove that he doesn’t own them in the
real sense of the word – that he and they just happened to be lying around the same place when you arrived. Finally, if worse comes to the worst, you will be prepared to question whether such as he can be, like you, fully human.”
Chinua Achebe in African Commentary, vol.1, n0.2, Nov.1989.
4. Imperialism, like the prehistoric hunter, first killed the being spiritually and culturally, before trying to eliminate it physically. The negation of the history and intellectual accomplishments of Black Africans was cultural, mental murder, which preceded and paved the way for their genocide here and there in the world. So that between the years 1946 and 1954 – when our project for the restitution of the authentic history of Africa and the reconciliation of African civilizations with history was elaborated – the distorted perspective caused by the blinders of colonialism had so profoundly warped intellectuals’ views of the African past that we had the greatest difficulty, even among Africans, in gaining acceptance for ideas that today are becoming commonplace. One can hardly imagine the degree of alienation of the Africans of that period.
Cheikh Anta Diop, Diop, Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991); pp.1-2.
5. “Racism is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. Racism is the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to hereditary inferiority and another group is destined to hereditary superiority. Racism is the dogma that the hope of civilization depends upon eliminating some races and keeping others pure. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual or physical homicide upon the out-group.”
Martin Luther King,Jr., Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community ?
Boston: Beacon Press; 1968; p.69-70
1. “Dein Christus ein Jude
Dein Auto ein Japaner
Deine Pizza italienisch
Deine Demokratie griechisch
Dein Kaffee brasilianisch
Dein Urlaub türkisch
Deine Zahlen arabisch
Deine Schrift lateinisch
Und Dein Nachbar nur ein Ausländer?”
2. In 2003, Dr. Jackson J. Spielvogel (Professor at the Pennsylvania State University) opened his book on “Western Civilization” with chapter one on “The Ancient Near East: the First civilizations” in which he made the following important remark:
“All humans today, whether they are Europeans, Australian Aborigenes, or Africans, belong to the same subspecies of human being. The first anatomically modern humans, known as Homo Sapiens Sapiens appeared in Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago. They began to spread outside Africa around 100,000 years ago… By 10,000 B.C., members of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens species could be found throughout the world… Western civilization can be traced back to the ancient Near East, where people in Mesopotamia and Egypt developed organized societies and created the ideas and institutions that we associate with civilization. The later Greeks and Romans, who played such a crucial role in the development of Western Civilization, were themselves nourished and influenced by these older societies in the Near East. It is appropriate, therefore, to begin our story of Western civilization in the ancient Near East with the early civilization of Mesopotamia and Egypt.”
Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization. Volume 1: to 1715. (Thomson Wadsworth, 2003), p.2.
3. Uniqueness Ideology and the Fear of Multiculturalism and universal brotherhood:
“Now if the foundations of Western civilization were multicultural (in the quite specific sense of deriving from many cultures), it would be important NOT ONLY TO SCHOLARS concerned with the question of what we should teach students about what happened in the ancient world. It would also be important to ALL OF US who (living in the West) consider ourselves to be HEIRS of Western civilization. For we all understand that the FOUNDATION MYTH of Western civilization HELPS TO DEFINE WHO WE THINK WE ARE, or would like to think we are. Thus, if the TREE OF OUR CIVILIZATION were shown to have roots in the soils of many DIFFERENT LANDS, a VISION OF OURSELVES as a pluralistic, diverse, multiethnic, and multiracial society might be legitimated.”
(Guy MacLean Rogers, Multiculturalism and the Foundations of Western civilization,
in Black Athena Revisited, p.429)
4. “The change that the new situation (of the global village) requires of us all – we who have been suddenly catapulted from town and country onto a world stage is staggering. Twenty-five hundred years ago it took an exceptional man like Diogenes to exclaim, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek but a citizen of the world,” Today we must all be struggling to make those words our own. We have come to the point in history when anyone who is only Japanese or American, only Oriental or Occidental, is only half human. The other half that beats with the pulse of all humanity has yet to be born.”
(Huston Smith, The World’s Religions. HarperSanFrancisco, 1991; p.7)
5. “The deeper the probings of modern scholarship, the more we realize that ‘the history of humankind is a single great river into which a myriad tributaries flow.”
(Basil Davidson, The Search for Africa: History, culture, politics. New York: Times Books,1994); p.19.
E. RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
(AND THE DEMOCRATIC SPIRIT)
1. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1791):
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
2. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(United Nations, 1948)
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
3. “It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that all human beings should worship according to their own convictions; one human person’s religion neither harms nor helps another. It is not proper to force religions. It must be taken freely, not under pressure.”
(Tertullian, Church Father, in his A.D. 212 appeal to the Roman Proconsul Scapula)
4. “It is not morally possible actually to go out into the world and say to devout, intelligent, fellow human beings:
‘We are saved and you are damned’;
or, ‘We believe that we know God, and we are right; you believe that you know God, and you are totally wrong.’”
Huston Smith, The Faith of Other Men
(New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972); pp.130-31.
5. “In reality, there are no religions which are false. All are true in their own fashion; all answer, though in different ways, to the given conditions of human existence. They respond to the same needs, they play the same role, they depend upon the same causes. All are religions equally, just as all living beings are equally alive, from the most humble plastids up to man.”
6. “Difference of opinion within my community is a sign of the bounty of Allah.” (The Prophet Muhammad)
7. “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Koran 2:257)
19. “To everyone have We given a law and a way… And if God had pleased, he would have made (all humankind) one people (people of one religion). But he hath done otherwise, that he might try you in that which He hath severally given unto you: wherefore press forward in good works. Unto God shall ye return, and He will tell you that concerning which ye disagree.”
(Koran 5: 48).
8. “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true. As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different paths which men take through different tendencies various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God.”
(Swami Vivekananda, on Hinduism)
Hinduism and the unity of World Religions:
9. “People partition off their lands by means of boundaries, but no one can partition off the all-embracing sky overhead. The indivisible sky surrounds all and includes all. So people in ignorance say, ‘My religion is the only one, my religion is the best.’ But when a heart is illuminated by true knowledge, it knows that above all these wars of sects and sectarians presides the one indivisible, eternal, all-knowing bliss. God has made different religions to suit different aspirations, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion. Everyone should follow one’s own religion. A Christian should follow Christianity, a Muslim should follow Islam, and so on. For the Hindus the ancient path, the path of the Aryan sages, is the best.”
(Rama Krishna, a Hindu Saint)
10. Paradigm Shift in Christian Consciousness (Openness to other religions)
10.0. “Because of Jesus Christ, Christianity understand itself as the absolute religion, intended for all men, which cannot recognize any other religion beside itself as of equal right… This pluralism is a greater threat and a reason for greater unrest for Christianity than for any other religion. For no other religion – not even Islam – maintains so absolutely that it is the religion, the one and only valid revelation of the one living God as does the Christian religion. The fact of the pluralism of religions, which endures and still from time to time becomes virulent and even after a history of 2000 years, must therefore be the greatest scandal and the greatest vexation for Christianity.”
(Karl Rahner, “Christianity and the Non-Christian Religions” in Theological Investigations, vol.5; Baltimore: Helicon, 1966; pp.118,116.).
10.1. Biblical Foundation of Religious Pluralism
The Book of Wisdom 11, 22 – 12,1:
Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance,
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook the sins of men that they may repent.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Lord and lover of souls,
For your imperishable spirit is in all things!
“Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’”
Acts of the Apostles 10:34-35
From Coogan, Michael D., ed., The New Oxford Annotated Bible:
New Revised Standard Version with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2001)
10. 2. Revolutionary views of the Catholic Church (Council, Popes and Theologians) and of Protestant theologians.
Jean Danielou (1956; Catholic theologian and Cardinal)
“Holiness in the order of cosmic religion consists in responding to God’s call through conscience. It is true holiness. For the Bible there exists no profane morality… Only the will of a person who deserves absolute homage can make absolute claims. To obey the moral law is to recognize God’s infinitely loving will; it is to love God. Moral life is already worship. This is why conscience is a revelation of God and there exists no a-religious morality.”
Jean Danielou, Les saints “paiens” de l’Ancien Testament. (Paris: Seuil, 1956), p.166
English version: Jean Danielou, Holy Pagans in the Old Testament. (London: Longmans, Greean and Co., 1957)
Cited by Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.
Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; p.37
Nostra Aetate (Vatican II Council, in 1965):
We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8). No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned. The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.
1986: in the encyclical on the Holy Spirit “Dominum et Vivificantem” (18 May 1986), pope John Paul II articulated explicitly the doctrine of “universal activity of the Holy Spirit before the time of Christian dispensation and today outside the Church.”
Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.
Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; p.176
1986: in a discourse to the members of the Roman Curia (December 22), in explaining the meaning of the Assisi meeting with members of different religions for the WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE (21 October 1986) as a continuation of the spirit of Vatican II, the Pope spoke more clearly than any of the Vatican II council documents on the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the religious life of the members of other religious traditions.
Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.
Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; p.175
1990: Pope John-Paul II explicitly proclaims that the Spirit of God works not only within Christianity or the Catholic Church, but also outside, in individuals, cultures and other religious traditions (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 7 December 1990):
“The Spirit manifests himself in a special way in the Church and her members. Nevertheless, his presence and activity are universal, limited neither by space nor time… The Spirit… is at the very source of the human person’s existential and religious questioning which is occasioned not only by contingent situations but by the very structure of its being. The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions.”
Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.
Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; pp.176-177
1990: the Catholic theologian Schillebeeckx proclaims:
“even in the Christian self-understanding the multiplicity of religions is not an evil which needs to be removed, but rather a wealth which is to be welcomed and enjoyed by all… The unity, identity and uniqueness of Christianity over against the other religions… lies in the fact that Christianity is a religion which associates relationship to God with a historical and thus a very specific and therefore limited particularity: Jesus of Nazareth. This is the uniqueness and identity of Christianity, but at the same time its unavoidable historical limitation. It becomes clear here that … the God of Jesus is a symbol of openness, not of closedness. Here Christianity has a positive relationship to other religions, but at the same time its uniqueness is nevertheless maintained, and ultimately at the same time the loyal Christian affirmation of the positive nature of other world religions is honoured.”
Edward Schillebeeckx, Church: The Human Story of God (London: SCM Press, 1990), p.167
Cited in Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; pp.386-387.
1997: Jacques Dupuis (Catholic, Jesuit theologian) proclaims:
“On what foundation, then, can the affirmation of a religious pluralism ‘of principle,’ or de jure, be made to rest? I did affirm that the faith in a plurality of persons in the one God is in itself no sufficient foundation for religious pluralism…. If, however, religion has its original source in a divine self-manifestation to human beings, as we have shown, the principle of plurality will be made to rest primarily on the superabundant richness and diversity of God’s self-manifestations to humankind. The divine plan for humanity is one, but multifaceted. That God spoke ‘in many and various ways’ before speaking through his son (Heb 1:1) is not incidental; nor is the plural character of God’s self-manifestation merely a thing of the past. For the decisiveness of the Son’s advent in the flesh in Jesus Christ does not cancel the universal presence and action of the Word and the Spirit. Religious pluralism in principle rests on the immensity of a God who is love.”
Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001; p.387. (I quote the edition of 2001, but the book was first published in 1997)