"The Promise of Religious Diversity," with Dr. John J. Thatamanil

Please join us for a lecture sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society to mark the opening of the Numen Lumen Pavilion.

“The Promise of Religious Diversity: Dialogue after Religion,” a lecture by Dr. John Thatamanil, associate professor of theology and world religions, Union Theological Seminary, will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April in the McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion.

Over the last three decades, an immense and still growing body of literature has demonstrated that our ideas about “religion” are relatively recent and Western in origin. Many of the traditions we think of now as religions only became religions rather recently. So, just what is “religion” and what are “the religions?” Most importantly, what does it mean to speak of some aspects of our lives as “religious” and others as “secular” and not religious? Do all cultures recognize this distinction between the religious and the secular? And how do our definitions and theories about religion/the religious shape (and perhaps distort) our efforts at interreligious dialogue? Is religion something that requires exclusive allegiance like marriage in a monogamous society? Can one learn from and be transformed by the resources of more than one religion? Is that kosher? In this lecture, Thatamanil argues that our ideas about religion, like our ideas about race, must be rethought from the ground up if we are to move into a richly pluralistic future.

John J. Thatamanil is Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation (Fortress Press, 2006).? He is completing his second book, The Promise of Religious Diversity: Constructive Theology After “Religion.” Prof. Thatamanil is a past-president of the North American Paul Tillich Society (NAPTS) and Project Director of the AAR’s Summer Seminars on Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology. He teaches a wide variety of courses including “Process Theology,” “Tillich and the Future of Theology,” “Hindu-Christian Dialogue,” and “Comparative Theology.” He is currently working on figuring what “religion” is and how our notions about religion shape our attitudes toward other traditions and what we believe we can learn (or not) from them.

This event is made possible by the Elon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the Religious Studies Department, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and Jewish Studies at Elon.