courseslibrary

Spring 2017

The Future of Religions: The Baha'i Faith

TWR 3037/4037 | Wednesday 1:00-3:50pm

The Bahá'í Faith is, in its own understanding, the newest of the world’s universal religions. This novelty is program: Its task amounts to nothing less than the unity of humanity through the unity of religions in a renewed world of physical and spiritual peace in harmony with the environment. Although still nascent, but with a wide distribution throughout continents, countries, ethnicities, cultural and religious backgrounds only second to Christianity, it offers unique resources for social, cultural and interreligious discourses on pressing global issues today and a renewal of life to which only mystical and spiritual wisdoms can contribute. Although of Persian origins and of Islamic background, the Bahá'í Faith emerged as a profoundly global religion that understands the world’s faiths as being of divine origin and in their own truths organically relevant to the grand development of humanity toward maturity and bound together by a process of progressive revelation of which its founder Bahá'u'lláh is the latest, but not the last, manifestation. In its own relativity, the Baha'i Faith relates to many movements, not only of its immediate heritage—Shi’i Islam, Sufism, the Shaykhi school and the Bábi religion—but also world traditions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity, and more indirectly Hinduism and Buddhism, by affirming their founders—Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Zoroaster, Krishna and the Buddha—as theophanies of the utterly unknowable divine reality engaging with humanity’s exigencies of time, culture and consciousness in ever new form. This course will explore the becoming, origins and developments of the Bahá'í Faith, its persistent and still ongoing struggles with persecution, its structures and essential elements of spiritual life, its founders, its revelation, vast sacred text and thought as well as its worldwide reception. In introducing a faith tradition of non-violence and universal peace, interreligious integrity and spiritual renewal, this course offers the unique opportunity to witness religion in the making today.

Eco-Process Theology

TH 3086/4002 | Wednesday 9-11:50am

Eco-Process Theology is not an application but the essence of a process theology that is concerned with the universal relationality of the world of events in their intertwining, evolution, emergence, and sustainability. The ecological question is pressing and a theological contribution urgent. In the series of great philosophical and theological contributions, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Alfred N. Whitehead occupy a special place in advocating an evolutionary ecology—not just as a scientific reality to be considered by theology but as deeper revelation of the nature of reality as such—that, if it really were taken seriously, must change our philosophical understanding of the world we live in and our theological reconstruction of religious orthodoxies. In contrasting their thought with others, e.g., Deep Ecology, a new conceptual and spiritual framework might arise that, in a profound sense, can be called "eco-centric" in nature. Their ecological impetus unites them in a new understanding of Divine Love as love of the Earth with all its theoretical, practical, and spiritual consequences to live in a Universe in Process.

Relgions and Exo-life

TH 3032/4032 | Thursday 9-11:50am

Since the discovery of the massive presence of exo-planets in our galaxy, the old question whether there may be life on other worlds than our Earth has sparked new interest not only in scientific fields such as ex-biology, but also regarding the views of diverse religions on this question. While in many cultures this assumption was part of their expansive worldview and while philosophies in the East and West have speculated on life and even human-like or strange forms of intelligence in the universe for ages, the impact this possibility might have on religious identities has become a more pressing issue today: How to think about creation, the human predicament, salvation and eschatological visions in light of many worlds full of life and maybe even intelligent life? This seminar will explore the history of the integration or exclusion, embrace or limitation of such a vision throughout different religious traditions, the constraints it puts on religious worldviews and doctrines, and the insights the horizon of exo-life can offer when it is applied to religious self-understanding.

Fall 2016

Whitehead Research Seminar: Process and Reality

Phil 405/Th 403 | Wednesday 1:00-3:50pm

Designed to aid a greater comprehension and appreciation of this challenging text, this seminar examines Whitehead's magnum opus, Process and Reality as it is enfolded in its first part from which everything else flows. In Part One Whitehead asks the question of philosophy, wrestles with a reformulation of metaphysics, and develops his philosophy of organism, introducing such important themes as the categorical scheme, the ultimate, novelty, creative advance and the primordial nature of God. In a concentrated, in-depth and detailed exploration, including discussions of Whitehead's background, his inherited and exerted philosophical influences, and the creative philosophical transformation he thereby initiates, we will explore what led the great French post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze to acclaim Whitehead’s Process and Reality to be “one of the greatest books in modern philosophy.”

Systematic Theology

TTH 3036/4036 | Tuesday 8:30-11:20am

Theology means "God-Talk." But can we "talk" about what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in the face of the multiple possibilities for experiencing this infinite reality we name "God"? How would we think of the multiplicity of answers which were given to these experiences, both within certain traditions and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought for addressing such questions instead of finding rest in certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or even silence? In fact, Christian theology-itself a "creature" of a multicultural and interreligious milieu-has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time, addressing and adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them. Accordingly, this course will "seek an understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God's relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the Church, and the quest for God's kingdom-to-come. The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, as well as their application to practical and ministerial situations.

Spring 2015

The Baha'i Faith: Becoming, Life, Thought

TWR 3037/4037 | Thursday 8:30-11:20am

The Baha'i Faith is in its own understanding the newest of the world's universal religions. This novelty is program: Its task amounts to nothing less than the unity of humanity through the unity of religions in a renewed world of physical and spiritual peace in harmony with the environment. Although still nascent, but with a wide distribution throughout continents, countries, ethnicities, cultural and religious backgrounds only second to Christianity, it offers unique resources for social, cultural and interreligious discourses on pressing global issues today and a renewal of life to which only mystical and spiritual wisdoms can contribute. Although of Persian origins and of Islamicate background, the Baha'i Faith emerged as a profoundly global religion that understands the world's faiths as being of divine origin and in their own truths organically relevant to the grand development of humanity toward maturity and bound together by a process of progressive revelation of which its founder Baha'u'llah is the latest, but not the last, manifestation. In its own relativity, the Baha'i Faith relates to many movements, not only of its immediate heritage-Shi'i Islam, Sufism, the Shaykhi school and the Babi religion-but also world traditions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity, and more indirectly Hinduism and Buddhism, by affirming their founders-Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Zoroaster, Krishna and the Buddha-as theophanies of the utterly unknowable divine reality engaging with humanity's exigencies of time, culture and consciousness in ever new form. This course will explore the becoming, origins and developments of the Baha'i Faith, its persistent and still ongoing struggles with persecution, its structures and essential elements of spiritual life, its founders, its revelation, vast sacred text and thought as well as its worldwide reception. In introducing to a faith tradition of non-violence and universal peace, interreligious integrity and spiritual renewal, this course offers the unique opportunity to witness religion in the making today.

Whitehead and Deleuze

TPS 3044/4044 | Wednesday 8:30-11:20am

Today, Whitehead’s philosophy is newly discovered to be in the line of ancestors of the postmodern, deconstructive or poststructuralist, French based “philosophy of difference”, which was co-initiated by Gilles Deleuze, for whom Whitehead’s Process and Reality was “one of the greatest philosophies of the 20th century.” The seminar will investigate their relationship by seeking to explore the potential for a mutual reconstruction of their thought regarding epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, theology, ethics and their relevance for process studies. This course is designed to maximize opportunities for discussion. Therefore, most of the time will be assigned to the study of important parts of the primary texts of these philosophers, their thorough reading and interpretation, creating a mosaic of references and a field of relations that will slowly build up to the realization of the respective “architecture” of their philosophies and the “plane of resonances.”

Theology of Creation

TCT/TPS 3074/4074 | Wednesday 1:00-3:50pm

Did creation come from nothing or from chaos or has it ever been? Is it historical or eternal? Is it an endless repeating process or will creation end in time? Is the act of creation the beginning of the end or the fulfillment of a previous end? Is it one universe or a multiverse? Important contemporary discussions on creator and creativity, creation and evolution, chaosmos and ecology, design and social constructions will be brought in as the class examines the contributions of religious traditions, philosophies, science, and contemporary theologies to questions of beginnings and becomings.

Fall 2014

Theology of the Body

TPS 3088/4088 | Tuesday 1:00-3:50pm

Cultures and religions are about bodies—their multiple states and incredible plasticity—physically and categorically. Nevertheless, in philosophy and theology, the body has long played only a rudimentary role as me-on (something not to be), something to overcome or to be left behind—quite in opposition to key biblical notions such as the resurrection of the body and the soma pneumaticon.

Especially in their critique of the longstanding "metaphysics of presence," process thought, post-structuralist and deconstructionist scholarship, and gender studies have "uncovered" the profound bodily basis of all our philosophical and theological claims, in terms of both their epistemological and ontological preconditions and their social and political consequences.

This seminar will focus on three areas of thought: the gender-oriented work of Judith Butler (and her engagement with Foucault, Kristeva, and Irigaray); the critique of the development of the concept of the body and its contemporary reevaluation (in Casey, Derrida, Deleuze, and Whitehead); and, finally, the theological renewal of new conceptualizations of the "event of the body" in the context of sex and gender, multiplicity and diversity, the organic and the orgiastic, and inclusion and liberation.

Systematic Theology

TTH 3036/4036 | Tuesday 6:30-9:20am, Online

Theology means "God-Talk." But can we "talk" about what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in the face of the multiple possibilities for experiencing this infinite reality we name "God"? How would we think of the multiplicity of answers which were given to these experiences, both within certain traditions and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought for addressing such questions instead of finding rest in certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or even silence? In fact, Christian theology-itself a "creature" of a multicultural and interreligious milieu-has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time, addressing and adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them. Accordingly, this course will "seek an understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God's relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the Church, and the quest for God's kingdom-to-come. The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, as well as their application to practical and ministerial situations.

Spring 2014

God as Poet of the World

TH 457

With the advent of "process theology," in the history of theology, a new way of thinking (feeling) "God" appeared which in the interaction with several theological movements from the 1920s on created a whole new network of paradigms for God-talk. This seminar investigates how this new body of paradigms formed, and continues to form, while contrasting other theological, philosophical, political, and ecological developments; what its "novelty" is all about; of what importance it will be for inter-religious and inter-cultural contextualization in the future; and, finally, what "future" we might anticipate for itself judged by its internal complexity, essential openness, and inherent self-transcendence formed around the image of God as "Poet" of the world.

Systematic Theology

TH 336

Theology means "God-Talk." But can we "talk" about what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in the face of the multiple possibilities for experiencing this infinite reality we name "God"? How would we think of the multiplicity of answers which were given to these experiences, both within certain traditions and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought for addressing such questions instead of finding rest in certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or even silence? In fact, Christian theology-itself a "creature" of a multicultural and interreligious milieu-has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time, addressing and adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them. Accordingly, this course will "seek an understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God's relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the Church, and the quest for God's kingdom-to-come. The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, as well as their application to practical and ministerial situations.

Fall 2013

The Relativity of Religious Truth

Religious Diversity is a fact and a problem. It is a fact of the complex reality of our world and it is a problem of the interaction between religions and, even more, within religions. The complex discussions of "religious plurality" in philosophies of religion and theologies of different religions have led to many different heated debates about the questions of religious truth: does one community or many communities represent its absoluteness; is it exclusive or inclusive? Its major theoretical aporia, however, is this: is religious diversity a welcomed or an unfortunate fact; is it based on the description of reality or is it a normative ideal? In other words: should we accept the plurality of religious traditions because we cannot avoid the fact of plurality or because it is a philosophical, theological, religious, and ethical imperative that we must be pluralistic in order to allow for Truth? This class will investigate the most prominent venues of addressing the plurality and unity of religions from the standpoint of positions of relativity and plurality of truth and paths of salvation/liberation, as well as the "unity" of (all) religions in conceptualizations of a multi religious "world theology."

Mysticism East and West

Mysticism is a name for a multiplicity of long-standing spiritual, subversive, and utterly creative traditions in the various philosophies and religions of the East and West, which take the experiential experiment with the Divine as the ultimate approach to understanding of the world and its meaning. Just what is mystic experience? And how does it inform and express itself in the various philosophical and religious understandings of the world? This seminar attempts a critical examination of the immanent resonance of this mystical approach to process theology, with its insistence on the philosophical method of experiential experiments with reality and God, and to a folio of outstanding thinkers from diverse religions (especially Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Baha'ism), Christian mystical thinkers like Nicholas of Cusa and Meister Eckhart, and to contemporary philosophy (especially Gorge Bataille and Gilles Deleuze) in their relevance to current philosophical and theological reconsiderations of the Divine.

Spring 2013

Whitehead and Postmodern Thought

REL 444 and LPS3033/4033

Today, Whitehead's philosophy is newly discovered to be in the line of ancestors of the postmodern, deconstructive and poststructuralist philosophy. It is this discovery that led Gilles Deleuze to acclaim Whitehead's Process and Reality as "one of the greatest books in modern philosophy." The seminar will investigate this claim in light of the manifoldness of postmodern thought—e.g., Baudrillard, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Lacan, Lyotard and Zizek—and their sources of inspiration—de Saussure, Freud, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche—but also in contrast with streams of Whiteheadian thought, such as Rescher's "process metaphysics" and Griffin's "constructive postmodernism." In exploring Whitehead's resonance with, and difference from, postmodern thought, we will ask for the potential of a mutual reconstruction of their thought from ontology to theology, from cosmology to culture, with the intention of slowly building up an understanding of the different "archi/tecture" of their philosophies and their contribution to contemporary questions.

The Theology of Moltmann and Rahner

REL 439 and LCT 3039/4039

In the rich history of Christian theology in the 20th century, two theologians have taken a special place: Jürgen Moltmann and Karl Rahner. Although not of the same persuasion or denomination, and also of different generations, these thinkers have attracted or influenced virtually every Christian theologian in one way or another, and, hence, has gained a kind of "universal" importance. We might not find it necessary to think like them, but we should at least always be ready to think with them. This course on the theology of Moltmann and Rahner will explore their work in systematic theology, and also show why their theses and methods are indispensable for doing systematic theology in the 21st century. The course will include most of their major works and statements on topics ranging from the doctrine of God and the Trinity, to Christology and pneumatology, to eschatology and ecclesiology. Throughout the course, the discriminating and resonating differences of their central intuitions and styles of thought will be of prime interest.

Spring 2012

Buddhism and Christianity

LCT/LIR 3088/4093 | Tuesday 1:00-3:50am

"Transreligious discourse" is a new approach to interreligious studies that is interested in processes of transformation between religions with regard to their ways of life, doctrines, and rituals. Theoretically, it studies the possibility of such a transfer, not by comparison but by following the trajectories of mutual influences and traces of one religion (way of life, doctrine, or ritual) in the other or by examining their reflection in diverse theologies. Practically, it studies matters and ways of transfer. In this seminar, the perspective is upon Buddhism and Christianity, highlighting the mutual reception of various doctrines, which are considered central and irreplaceable in one religion or the other, and the creative transformation they issue in the other religion. Questions will involve: How are transreligious processes possible and how are they happening? What are the theological presuppositions, implications, and consequences when a tradition not only practically allows for such transfers but also reflects on them as part of its own development? Is there a Buddhist Christology? Is there a Christian doctrine of Emptiness? How do the diverse traditions dare to adopt mutually challenging notions of God and Nothingness? Is there a mutual concept of a "Buddha-Christ"?

Systematic Theology

LTH 3036/4065| Tuesday 8:30-11:20am

Theology means "God-Talk." But can we "talk" what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in face of the multiple possibilities to experience this infinite reality we name "God"? How would we think of the multiplicity of answers which were given to these experiences both within a certain tradition and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought to address such questions instead of just being assured of certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or by remaining silent? In fact, Christian theology is a "creature" from a multicultural and interreligious milieu, in which it has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time and addresses them by adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them. This course will "seek understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God's relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the church, and the quest for God's kingdom-to-come. The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, as well as its application to practical and ministerial situations.

Fall 2011

Eco-Process Theology

TH 302/402 | Wednesday 9-11:50am

Eco-Process Theology is not an application but the essence of a process theology that is concerned with the universal relationality of the world of events in their intertwining, evolution, emergence, and sustainability. The ecological question is pressing and a theological contribution urgent. In the series of great philosophical and theological contributions, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Alfred N. Whitehead occupy a special place in advocating an evolutionary ecology—not just as a scientific reality to be considered by theology but as deeper revelation of the nature of reality as such—that, if it really were taken seriously, must change our philosophical understanding of the world we live in and our theological reconstruction of religious orthodoxies. In contrasting their thought with others, e.g., Deep Ecology, a new conceptual and spiritual framework might arise that, in a profound sense, can be called "eco-centric" in nature. Their ecological impetus unites them in a new understanding of Divine Love as love of the Earth with all its theoretical, practical, and spiritual consequences to live in a Universe in Process.

Religious Relativity and World Theology

TH 342/426 and IR 326/426 | Wednesday 1-3:50pm

Religious Diversity is a fact and a problem. It is a fact of the complex reality of our world and it is a problem of the interaction between religions and even more within religions. The complex discussions of "religious plurality" in philosophies of religion and theologies of different religions have led to many different heated debates about the questions of religious truth: does one community or many represent its absoluteness; is it exclusive or inclusive? Its major theoretical aporia, however, is this: is religious diversity a welcomed or an unfortunate fact; is it based on the description of reality or is it a normative ideal? In other words: should we accept the plurality of religious traditions because we cannot avoid the fact of plurality or because it is a philosophical, theological, religious, and ethical imperative that we must be pluralistic in order to allow for Truth? This class will investigate the most prominent venues of addressing the plurality and unity of religions from the standpoint of positions of relativity and plurality of truth and paths of salvation/liberation as well as the "unity" of (all) religions in conceptualizations of a multireligious "world theology."

Spring 2011

Theology of the Body

TH 488 | Tue 9-11:50pm

Cultures and religions are about bodies—their multiple states and incredible plasticity—physically and categorically. Nevertheless, in philosophy and theology, the body has long played only a rudimentary role as me-on (something not to be), something to overcome or to be left behind—quite in opposition to key biblical notions such as the resurrection of the body and the soma pneumaticon.

Especially in their critique of the longstanding "metaphysics of presence," process thought, post-structuralist and deconstructionist scholarship, and gender studies have "uncovered" the profound bodily basis of all our philosophical and theological claims, in terms of both their epistemological and ontological preconditions and their social and political consequences.

This seminar will focus on three areas of thought: the gender-oriented work of Judith Butler (and her engagement with Foucault, Kristeva, and Irigaray); the critique of the development of the concept of the body and its contemporary reevaluation (in Casey, Derrida, Deleuze, and Whitehead); and, finally, the theological renewal of new conceptualizations of the "event of the body" in the context of sex and gender, multiplicity and diversity, the organic and the orgiastic, and inclusion and liberation.

Mysticism and Process Theology (TH308/418)

Sessions: Tue 1-3:50 p.m.

Mysticism is a name for a multiplicity of longstanding spiritual, subversive, and utterly creative traditions in the various philosophies and religions of the East and West, which take the experiential experiment with the Divine as the ultimate approach to understanding of the world and its meaning. Just what is mystic experience? And how does it inform and express itself in the various philosophical and religious understandings of the world? This seminar attempts a critical examination of the immanent resonance of this mystical approach to process theology, with its insistence on the philosophical method of experiential experiments with reality and God, and to a folio of outstanding thinkers from diverse religions (especially Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Baha'ism), Christian mystical thinkers like Nicholas of Cusa and Meister Eckhart, and to contemporary philosophy (especially Gorge Bataille and Gilles Deleuze) in their relevance to current philosophical and theological reconsiderations of the Divine.

Fall 2010

Whitehead and Deleuze

Tues 9-11:50am

Today, Whitehead’s philosophy is newly discovered to be in the line of ancestors of the postmodern, deconstructive or poststructuralist, French based “philosophy of difference”, which was co-initiated by Gilles Deleuze, for whom Whitehead’s Process and Reality was “one of the greatest philosophies of the 20th century.” The seminar will investigate their relationship by seeking to explore the potential for a mutual reconstruction of their thought regarding epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, theology, ethics and their relevance for process studies. This course is designed to maximize opportunities for discussion. Therefore, most of the time will be assigned to the study of important parts of the primary texts of these philosophers, their thorough reading and interpretation, creating a mosaic of references and a field of relations that will slowly build up to the realization of the respective “architecture” of their philosophies and the “plane of resonances.”

Eschatology: Apocalyptic and Counter-Apocalyptic Discourse

Wed 1-3:50pm

From the times of the late Hebrew Bible on, the eschatological hope for the Coming of God took an apocalyptic turn that became a defining moment for early Christianity and the development of its entire outlook on theology and politics. While the eschatological dimension was famously rediscovered in 20th century theology, thereby restructuring the whole body of theology, its apocalyptic implications were challenged greatly by process theology (and other movements) on a metaphysical basis, uncovering its devastating political implications. This seminar will follow the challenge of the apocalyptic discourse and the counter-apocalyptic discourse of contemporary theologies with an accent on the theopoetics of process theology.

Spring 2010

Theology of Creation

TH 374/474 | Tue 1-3:50 p.m.

Did creation come from nothing or from chaos or has it ever been? Is it historical or eternal? Is it an endless repeating process or will creation end in time? Is the act of creation the beginning of the end or the fulfillment of a previous end? Is it one universe or a multiverse? Important contemporary discussions on creator and creativity, creation and evolution, chaosmos and ecology, design and social constructions will be brought in as the class examines the contributions of religious traditions, philosophies, science, and contemporary theologies to questions of beginnings and becomings.

The Theology of Moltmann and Rahner

TH 439 | Tue 9-11:50 a.m.

In the rich history of Christian theology of the 20th century, two theologians have taken a special place: Jürgen Moltmann and Karl Rahner. Although not of the same persuasion or denomination, and also of different generations, their thought has attracted or influenced virtually every Christian theologian in one way or another, and, hence, has gained a kind of "universal" importance. We might not find it necessary to think like them, but we should at least always be ready to think with them. This course on the Theology of Moltmann and Rahner will explore their work in Systematic Theology, and also show why their theses and methods are indispensable for doing Systematic Theology after the 20th century. The course will include most of their major works and statements on topics ranging from the Doctrine of God and the Trinity, to Christology and Pneumatology, to Eschatology and Ecclesiology. Throughout the course, the discrimination and resonating differences of their central intuitions and style of thought will be of prime interest.

Fall 2009

Contemporary Catholic Theologies

REL 462TH / TH404 | Tue 9–11:50am, McManus 33 (CGU)

There are two ways to investigate the "essence" of Catholic theology: on the one hand, one could "define" what it means to be Catholic, and to be a Catholic theologian, and then measure the theologies under scrutiny regarding their orthodoxy, heterodoxy, or heresy. This is the "transcendental" way. On the other hand, one can also ask what contemporary Catholic theologians think and how they define their being Catholic. This more "empirical" way, which will be followed in this course, will allow us to "construct" the multiplicity of different theologies as a "measure" so as to understand the multiplicity of current Catholic theology and its relevance for contemporary theology in general and its "identity" in particular. In the tension of both ways, this course will introduce us to the "polydoxy" of Catholic theologies in their honest and passionate search for the ways in which to responsibly conceptualize what it means to be a Christian in today's multiplicity of societies, the current interaction of religions, and the urgent need to recognize the organic integrity of the Earth.

God as Poet of the World

TH 457 | Wed 9–11:50am, Craig 105 (CST)

With the advent of "process theology," in the history of theology, a new way of thinking (feeling) "God" appeared which in the interaction with several theological movements from the 1920s on created a whole new network of paradigms for God-talk. This seminar investigates how this new body of paradigms formed, and continues to form, while contrasting other theological, philosophical, political, and ecological developments; what its "novelty" is all about; of what importance it will be for inter-religious and inter-cultural contextualization in the future; and, finally, what "future" we might anticipate for itself judged by its internal complexity, essential openness, and inherent self-transcendence formed around the image of God as "Poet" of the world.

Systematic Theology

TH 336 | Tue 1–3:50pm, Butler 201 (CST)

Theology means "God-Talk." But can we "talk" about what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in the face of the multiple possibilities for experiencing this infinite reality we name "God"? How would we think of the multiplicity of answers which were given to these experiences, both within certain traditions and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought for addressing such questions instead of finding rest in certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or even silence? In fact, Christian theology-itself a "creature" of a multicultural and interreligious milieu-has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time, addressing and adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them. Accordingly, this course will "seek an understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God's relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the Church, and the quest for God's kingdom-to-come. The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, as well as their application to practical and ministerial situations.

Fall 2008

Transreligious Discourse: Buddhism and Christianity

TH 493 | Tue 9–11:50am, McManus 31 (CST)

“Transreligious Discourse” is a new approach to interreligious studies that is interested in processes of transformation between religions with regard to their ways of life, doctrines, and rituals. Theoretically, it studies the possibility of such a transfer, not by comparison but by following the trajectories of mutual influences and traces of one religion (way of life, doctrine, or ritual) in the other or by examining their reflection in diverse theologies. Practically, it studies matters and ways of transfer. In this seminar, the perspective is upon Buddhism and Christianity, highlighting the mutual reception of various doctrines, which are considered central and irreplaceable in one religion or the other, and the creative transformation they issue in the other religion. Questions will involve: How are transreligious processes possible and how are they happening? What are the theological presuppositions, implications, and consequences when a tradition not only practically allows for such transfers but also reflects on them as part of its own development? Is there a Buddhist Christology? Is there a Christian doctrine of Emptiness? How do the diverse traditions dare to adopt mutually challenging notions of God and Nothingness? Is there a mutual concept of a “Buddha-Christ”?     

Religious Pluralism

TH 426 | Wed 9–11:50am, Craig 105 (CST)

Religious Diversity is a fact and a problem. It is a fact of the complex reality of our world and it is a problem of the interaction between religions and even more within religions. The complex discussions of religious plurality in philosophies of religion and theologies have led to many different heated debates about the questions of religious truth: does one community or many represent its absoluteness; is it exclusive or inclusive? Its major theoretical aporia, however, is this: is religious diversity a welcomed or an unfortunate fact; is it based on the description of reality or is it a normative ideal? In other words: should we accept the plurality of religious traditions because we cannot avoid the fact of plurality or because it is a philosophical, theological, religious, and ethical imperative that we must be pluralistic in order to allow for Truth? Questions addressed will include: What is the state of the debate on pluralism in general? Does it involve a specific religious problem or one of “reality” as such? What are the philosophical and theological directions taken in order to cope with, to oppose, or to advocate religious pluralism? How do the different pluralisms relate? What would be creative ways for future solutions in light of sensitivities to diverse religious traditions—within diverse traditions as well as between them—regarding questions of Truth, Salvation, and Peace? 

Teilhard de Chardin, Rahner & Whitehead

TH 403 | Thu 1–3:50pm, Craig 110 (CST)

In the series of great (philosophical) theologians, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, and Alfred N. Whitehead occupy a special place in advocating Evolution—not just as a scientific reality to be considered by theology but as deeper revelation of the nature of reality as such—that, if it really were taken seriously, must change our philosophical understanding of the world we live in and our theological reconstruction of Christian doctrine. These three thinkers not only relate through a historical line of thought—Teilhard has read Whitehead and Rahner, Teilhard—but they present a new conceptual and spiritual framework that, in a profound sense, can be called “eco-centric” in nature. Their ecological impetus unites them in a new understanding of Divine Love as love of the Earth with all its theoretical, practical, and spiritual consequences—to live in a Universe in Process.