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Vol 2012 no 2 (Posted November 2012)


Education || Religion || Terrorism || Women's Leadership ||Human Rights||



The Murfreesboro Mosque:  To Build or Not to Build?
Laura Blackwell Clark, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership, Middle Tennessee State University
Barbara Newman Young, Professor, Educational Leadership, Middle Tennessee State University

The proposed construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was the catalyst for a chain of events in which religion, culture, and public policy intersected, and, in this particular situation, conflicted. This paper examines the clash of religion and culture and the role of the U.S. Constitution in the resolution of the conflict.  
More specifically, a group of Christian residents in the small, Southern city of Murfreesboro objected to the building of the first mosque by the local Muslim community.  Supporters of the mosque followed processes for building permits required by county law. Opponents of the mosque claimed that the law was not being followed, and they made their objections known to local county commissions and to the county Chancery Court. The final decision was handed down from the U.S. District Court.  A discussion of the conflict and the resolution will be presented and analyzed through the multiple lenses of religion, culture, and public policy.

Religious Reflections from the Life of Emily Bronte: The Number Three and its Significance in Wuthering Heights
Janet Crosier, Associate Professor of English, Springfield Technical Community College

Nineteenth-century British author Emily Bronte makes nearly fifty references to the number three in her only novel, Wuthering Heights.  With such an overwhelming use of this specific number, it seems unlikely that Bronte used it merely by coincidence.  Forty-seven instances where the number three is used are in reference to lengths of time, while other references indicate numbers of particular items or characters.  It is of interest that the number three is a highly significant religious number.  Since Emily Bronte was raised in a religious household, by a father who was a pastor and by an extremely religious aunt, the spiritual significance of three is the best answer to the question of why Bronte would have reflected upon and chosen to use this one number almost exclusively in Wuthering Heights


Love and Lumos:  Allusions to God in Harry Potter and its Application to the Lenten Journey within an Anglican parish (COMMENTARY)
Victor Krueger-Kischak, Regional Dean of Oxford, Diocese of Huron, Canada

One commentator by the name of Connie Neal has said that the Harry Potter series is the “greatest evangelistic opportunity the church has ever missed.”  While I think she’s overstating her point, she’s not that far off the mark, because the only other book that has outsold the Harry Potter series is the Bible, and frankly I don’t know of anyone who would line up at midnight at a bookstore, eager to devour the newest translation of the Bible.  But Harry Potter does not have to be a missed opportunity because at a foundational level, the Harry Potter series explores the universal struggle between good and evil and the redemptive power of love which happens to mirror the Lenten journey that many traditional Anglican parishes engage in on an annual basis.
          This paper will outline an approach in which the seven novels of the Harry Potter series can be used to form an underlying narrative for seven progressive sermons that will guide a congregation simultaneously through the spiritual trajectory of the Lenten season with the narrative trajectory of Harry Potter series.  Recent results from two congregations will show that the approach is both respectful and rewarding for those who have never heard of Harry Potter, as well as those who have never heard the Christian metanarrative, and, in fact, has provided many additional opportunities for the church to connect with unchurched members of the community.

Representation of the Divine: God and Satan as Fantastic Characters in the Modern Novel
Anne Loddegaard, Associate Professor, Roskilde University

This paper examines the rhetorical function of a fantastic episode in Georges Bernanos’ novel Under Satan’s Sun (1926): a young priest’s terrible combat against Satan in the shape of a horse dealer; God himself is also present, invisible, but definitely there. The popular fantastic genre may seem out of place in a novel belonging to the serious combat literature of the Catholic Revival, and the direct representation of the supernatural is also surprising because previous Catholic Revival novelists, such as Léon Bloy and Karl-Joris Huysmans, maintain a realistic, non-magical world and deal with God and Satan in the form of discourse as theological concepts and spiritual phenomena which can be talked or thought about by narrators or characters, but which are never represented directly. This paper demonstrates that in spite of these departures from the conventions of the genre, the fantastic Satan episode in Under Satan’s Sun is neither a break with the seriousness nor with the realism of the Catholic novel. On the basis of Tvetan Todorov’s definition of the traditional fantastic tale, the analysis shows that only the beginning of the fantastic episode follows Todorov’s definition and that Bernanos invents a new fantastic mode which is simultaneously Christian and realistic. I argue that Bernanos’ fantastic mode is a rhetorical strategy addressed to modern readers. In the secular world of the 1920s the novelist can no longer presuppose reader responsiveness to theological language and the aesthetic of the fantastic is more suitable for the purpose of persuading modern readers to accept the religious theme than the dogmatic language of the traditional Catholic novel.

The Human Search for Meaning: Scientific and Theological Investigations
Richard H. Morgan, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University

Scientific investigations of empirical reality and theological investigations into the non-empirical realm of God’s existence and relationship to humanity are often thought to be mutually exclusive, if not antagonistic, enterprises.  What is often overlooked in the Science vs. Religion debates, however, is that certain 20th century strands of development in each area suggest a possible common ground in the mutual insight regarding the importance of ‘Meaning’ to any exploration of human reality. In this paper I examine some of the developments within certain approaches to science and theology that parallel each other in their common concern about subjective meaning and in the influence these concerns have had on methodology in the respective fields of investigation.  The basis of the common ground is the influence that Phenomenology has had on philosophy and epistemology in the 20th century and the impact of this on a wide range of academic disciplines.  From the scientific/empirical side, I focus primarily on Social Constructionism as one of several schools of thought which have led investigators to shift towards the use of more qualitative research methodologies.  These are methods designed to probe the meaning systems within which human beings, individually and collectively, experience, integrate and create the social realities in which they live.  On the side of theological investigations, I examine a similar shift in emphasis evident in the work of the 20th century German theologian Karl Rahner who sought to engage the insights and challenges posed by post-modern philosophy by focusing on the subjective experience of human beings as a starting point for the human search for God.  By way of conclusion, possibilities for mutual dialogue and possibly collaboration between these two realms of investigation are also suggested.

Theological Contradiction and Complementarity between Meritocracy and Amitacracy: Research into the True Way of Human Development and Social Formation
Masanori Matsuda and Naoyuki Ogi

At the previous Oxford Round Table of 2008, “Religion: Politics of Peace and Conflict,” meritocracy, described as the nature of civilization in connection with scientific technologies, was considered in light of tragedies that occur during periods of paradigm shift, and monocultures produced by meritocracy were identified as causes of such tragedies. In addition, amitacracy was coined as an antonym of meritocracy by considering, theologically, the profound scale of humanity as its basis. Accordingly, we concluded that philosophical foundations for world peace must involve the “awakening of existence itself as absolute duality” described by Nishida Kitaro 西田幾多郎 (1870-1945). 
            In this presentation we discuss various theological problems in both meritocracies and amitacracies, and seek to deepen our understanding of “the awakening of existence itself as absolute duality.” First, we consider the failure of social theory brought about by the monoculture of meritocracy so as to highlight what meritocracy is paradoxically. Next, we consider the theory of amitacracy in connection with the form of Mahayana Buddhism espoused by Shinran. Finally, we examine theological contradiction and complementation between meritocracy and amitacracy in order to clarify the true way of human development and social formation.


Science and Religion: Drawing the Line
Isidoro Talavera, Philosophy Professor and Lead Faculty, Department of Humanities & Communication Arts, Franklin University

Areas exist where theistic religion and modern science are clearly not compatible, but demarcation for the defender of the faith may get blurred.  In this essay, I provide some overriding reasons why modern science should not be characterized by the religious believer as a religion, faith, and/or just a theory or belief system






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