Brown Bags 2006-2007

Brown Bag Lunches

All lunches are in the Theology Department Conference Room 335, 21 Camponella Way, 3rd Floor, unless otherwise noted.

Topics range from informal discussion of a question someone raises at lunch, to presentations by professors or students on topics they are writing about, to discussions with visitors to the university.

No background expertise, preparation or reading is required. You do not need to be an expert on a topic to lead a discussion about it! Newcomers are most welcome any week. (Bring your own lunch, if you wish to eat.)

If you are interested in presenting, or have suggestions, contact any of the Comparative Theology professors (Cornille, Langer, Makransky, Morris).

Spring Lunches

January 26 (Friday)

David Hollenbach will discuss his article "More Than One Way of Dying: Living Conditions of Forcibly Displaced People Violate Human Rights" and comment on how the crisis of refuges and displaced people discussed in the article is a challenge of all faiths and religious communities, calling them to approaches that reach beyond borders, both national and religious.

February 14 (Wednesday) Room 328

Jamal Malik (University of Erfurt, Germany), will speak about his most recent books: Sufism in the West and Muslims in Europe. A blurb about the first reads:

With the increasing Muslim diaspora in post-modern Western societies, Sufism - intellectually as well as sociologically - may eventually become Islam itself due to its versatile potential, especially in the wake of what has been called the failure of political Islam world-wide. Sufism in the West provides a timely account of this subject and is primarily concerned with the latest developments in the history of Sufism and elaborates the ideas and institutions which organize Sufism and folk-religious practices.

February 20 (Tuesday)

Raphael Jospe (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) “Jews and Muslims: Thinking Together about the Ideal Life.” A pdf with relevant texts is attached here. Reading them in advance is not required, but is recommended.

March 12 (Monday)

David Gardiner (Colorado College), “Buddhist Understandings of Patience as a Resource for Comparative Inquiry”

David Gardiner is an expert on Japanese Buddhism. This talk focuses on the power of "patience" as a comparative philosophical/theological/ethical concept. It draws on the 8th century Buddhist scholar Shantideva's chapter on patience but extends that into the implications of how the varieties of ways this concept plays out in Buddhist thought might reveal the usefulness of the idea for ways of thinking comparatively. It draws also on some Christian as well as Taoist parallels and includes a critique of some contemporary (especially western) Buddhist perspectives.

March 19 (Monday) Room 328

Robert Abdul Hayy Darr (Afghan Cultural Foundation), "In the Absence of Mercy: Understanding the Doctrinal Basis of Intolerance in Literalist Islam"

This presentation draws upon Darr's experiences in war-torn Afghanistan during the formative period of the nascent Islamist jihadi culture taking roots there in the mid-1980’s. Afghanistan became a training ground for Islamic militants arriving from all over the world. More importantly, it became the center for a synthesis of several strands of literalist and militant Islam that built upon centuries of very conservative Islamic doctrines, like those put forward by Ibn Taymiyah in the 13th century.

This talk will explore the history and doctrines of modern Islamic literalism and present some of the arguments made by historical challenges to literalism and intolerance in Islam. Many of those challenges to Islamic literalism were made by Afghan jurists and mystics of the last millenium.

Those interested in reading Darr’s memoir about his time in Afghaninstan can find it online at

April 12 (Thursday)

Reuben Habito (Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University), “Multiple Religious Belonging: Implications for Comparative Theology”

April 25 (Wednesday)

Erik Ranstrom, "Paul and Panikkar on Prototypes: An Alternative Method of Using Scripture in Theology of Religions"

May 1 (Tuesday)

Religious Quest Faculty and Teaching Assistants: A discussion of pedagogical issues in Comparative Theology

Fall Lunches

September 12 (Tuesday)

Welcoming meeting

September 26 (Tuesday)

Dan Scheid, "Humanity's Role in a Sacramental Universe: Thomas Aquinas and Vedanta Desika as a Foundation for Ecological Ethics."

Dan will present the proposal for his dissertation, which will place Thomas Aquinas' theology of creation in dialogue with Vedanta Desika's in order to discern the foundation for a theologically nuanced ecological ethic. It will briefly outline God's presence in creation, God's purpose for creation, humanity's relationship to creation, and humanity's purpose in creation.

October 4 (Wednesday)

Bagus Laksana, "Pneumatology from Below: A Theology of Religions from Asia."

October 17 (Tuesday)

John Renard, "Models for Comparative Theology"
Professor of Theology, St. Louis University. Recommended reading: "Comparative Theology: Definition and Method," Religious Studies and Theology 17 (1998): 3-18.

November 1 (Wednesday)

Philip A. Cunningham, "Christ and the Jewish People: A Report from Rome"

November 16 (Thursday) ROOM 328

Karen Enriquez, "Self and Other: A Comparative Look at Christian and Buddhist Anthropologies"

December 6 (Wednesday)

Erik Ranstrom, "Romans 1:18-32 as a Problem for Christian Theology of Religions"

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Updated: 18-May-2009
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