FAITHS IN CONVERSATION

Presented by the Interfaith Council of Thanks-Giving Foundation, Perkins School of Theology, and the Dallas Institute

Religion is almost always a community affair, not merely a private practice. And religious communities always exist in some relationship with the wider society of which they and their members are apart. Yet religions vary in their understanding of what role their communities and members should play in the larger society, and why. They have different understandings of how their members should address the greater community and its needs. We could say that they have different theologies of social engagement, or different ideas about how faith is put into practice in a social setting.

The 2020-21 Faiths in Conversation Series will explore what different religions teach as the guiding principles and goals for their participation in social life beyond their own religious community. Aimed at offering people of all cultures, faith, and traditions opportunities to learn about the religions of their neighbors, the monthly sessions will approach relevant topics of faith from academic–and accessible–perspectives, with audience participation encouraged.

The Fall series, all online, will focus on “Religion in Society” from the perspectives of the major faith traditions, featuring Shinto, Islam, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian traditions.

Session 1: Shinto Religion in Society
The suggested reading for this session is an excerpt from Shinto: The Way Home, by Thomas P. Kasulis (University of Hawai’i Press)
Monday, September 14, 4-5:30 pm

Session 2: Islam Religion in Society
The suggested reading for session two is from Imam Dr. Khalil Abdur-Rashid’s Financing Kindness as a Society: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Philanthropic Institutions (Waqfs).
Monday, October 5, 4-5:30 pm

Session 3: Zoroastrian Religion in Society
The suggested reading for session three is A Brief Introduction to Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrianism in India, by Jesse S. Palsetia.
Monday, November 2, 4-5:30 pm

Session 4: Jewish Religion in Society
Monday, December 7, 4-5:30pm

Free admission; donations appreciated!

REGISTER


SESSION 3: ZOROASTRIAN RELIGION IN SOCIETY

Monday, November 2, 4-5:30 pm
The suggested reading for session three is A Brief Introduction to Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrianism in India, by Jesse S. Palsetia.

PRESENTER

Professor Jesse S. Palsetia is Professor of History in the Department of History, the University of Guelph, Canada. He is a historian of India and the British Empire. His specialization is the Parsis of India and Bombay city history. He is the author a book and articles on the Parsis, Bombay, and colonial-imperial relations. His work deals with Indians and the non-West in contact with the West from the age of modern empire.

RESPONDER

Rachel Ball-Phillips received her Ph.D. in South Asian History from Boston College in 2015, and conducted language study and research through multiple American Institute of Indian Studies language grants, a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, and a Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy Fellowship. She currently teaches South Asian history courses at SMU that include the Civilization of India, On the Edges of Empire, Human Rights in Modern South Asia, and Bollywood. She was recently awarded a Manodharma Faculty Travel Grant to set up internship opportunities for SMU students in India. Ball-Phillips is currently completing her manuscript on regional Marathi cinema titled Shaping the Marathi Imagination: Film and Regionalism in Western India, and has started preliminary work on her next project titled Hare Krishnas in Longhorn Country: An Oral History of Devotees in Dallas.

Dr. Ball-Phillips is the Director of National Student Fellowships and the President’s Scholars at SMU. She also serves as the President for the Fulbright Association Dallas Chapter where she is committed to fostering international exchange in the Dallas community.



SESSION 4: JEWISH RELIGION IN SOCIETY

Monday, December 7, 4-5:30 pm

PRESENTER

Dr. Michael S. Berger received his B.A. cum laude with Honors in Religion from Princeton, M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Columbia. He also received a Lady Davis Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Hebrew University, Israel. His research and teaching focus on issues of religious authority, rabbinic literature, and the development of Jewish law in Judaism. He is the author of Rabbinic Authority (Oxford, 1998), and edited The Emergence of Ethical Man (2005) based on the writings of the late Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He has written on medieval & modern Jewish thought, Jewish marriage, and violence in Judaism. He is currently exploring issues in contemporary Jewish identity and education, for which he serves as a consultant.

RESPONDER

Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles is Professor of New Testament and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. from Stetson University where she focused on both Philosophy and Russian Studies. She earned her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and her Ph.D. in New Testament from Yale University. Her particular areas of expertise and publication include: The Johannine Literature (the Gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation); Evil, Suffering, Death, and Afterlife; Disability Studies and the Bible; Women in the Bible; and Immersion trips to Israel and Palestine.

She is the author of numerous books and essays. Her books include Reading John for Dear Life: A Spiritual Walk with the Fourth Gospel (Westminster John Knox [WJK], 2016), Engaging the Word: The New Testament and the Christian Believer (WJK, 2010); Death and the Afterlife in the New Testament (T&T Clark, 2006); and Scripture Cannot Be Broken: The Social Function of the Use of Scripture in the Fourth Gospel (Brill, 2003).

PREVIOUS SESSIONS

SESSION 1: SHINTO RELIGION IN SOCIETY

Monday, September 14, 4-5:30 pm
The suggested reading for this session is an excerpt from Shinto: The Way Home, by Thomas P. Kasulis (University of Hawai'i Press)

PRESENTER

James Mark Shields is Professor of Comparative Humanities and Asian Thought and was Inaugural Director of the Humanities Center at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA). Educated at McGill University (Canada), the University of Cambridge (UK), and Kyoto University (Japan), he conducts research on modern Buddhist thought, Japanese philosophy, comparative ethics and philosophy of religion. He is author of Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought (Ashgate, 2011), Against Harmony: Progressive and Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan (Oxford, 2017), and co-editor of Teaching Buddhism in the West: From the Wheel to the Web (Routledge, 2003), Buddhist Responses to Globalization (Lexington, 2014), and The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics (Oxford, 2018).

RESPONDER

Dr. Shira L. Lander (B.A., Yale University, M.H.L., Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of Practice and Director of Jewish Studies specializing in late antique Judaism and Christianity. Her book, Ritual Spaces and Religious Rivalries in Late Roman North Africa (Cambridge, 2016), explores why religious groups competed over and destroyed sites considered holy. Lander previously was the Anna Smith Fine Senior Lecturer of Jewish Studies at Rice University, where she taught in the departments of Religious Studies and History. Before moving to Texas, she taught at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Delaware, and Princeton University. Her areas of interest include Jewish-Christian relations, sacred space, martyrdom, religious violence, and material culture. Her current research project explores images of synagogues in medieval manuscripts.

SESSION 2: ISLAM RELIGION IN SOCIETY

Monday, October 5, 4-5:30 pm

PRESENTER

Imam Dr. Khalil Abdur-Rashid is the Chair of the Board of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at Harvard and full-time University Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University. He is also Instructor of Muslim Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and Public Policy Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School.

He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Imam Dr. Khalil completed his Doctorate in Liberal Studies in American Islam from Southern Methodist University and holds both a Master of Arts in Islamic law and Middle East Studies as well as a Master of Philosophy in Islamic Law and Middle East Studies from Columbia University in New York City. He also holds a full Ijaaza in all Sharia disciplines and completed his Islamic doctoral Seminary degree in Istanbul, Turkey.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Georgia State University and worked for the state of Georgia as a social worker for several years. He has served as an Imam, a special adviser to city leaders, and has years’ experience leading diverse teams of professionals and community leaders in solving community problems.


RESPONDER

Dr. Hussein Rashid has a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University, a Masters in Theological Studies focusing on Islam, and an MA and PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, focusing on South and Central Asia from Harvard University. He is a contingent faculty member and has taught at Hofstra University, Fordham University, Iona College, Virginia Theological Seminary, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, SUNY Old Westbury, and Columbia University. His research focuses on Muslims and American popular culture. He writes and speaks about music, comics, movies, and the blogistan. He also has a background in South and Central Asian studies, with a deep interest in Shi’i justice theology. He has published academic works on Muslims and American Popular Culture, Malcolm X, qawwali, intra-Muslim racism, teaching Shi’ism, Islam and comics, free speech, Sikhs and Islamophobia, Muslims in film, and American Muslim spaces of worship. His current project focuses on the role of technology in teaching religion.