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Theology, spirituality and the academic study of religion in public universities
h [electronic resource] /
by Don Saunders.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 57 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This thesis examines whether the secular institutions of American higher education should address students questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny. That is, it investigates the place of the normative analysis of religious experience and behavior within the public university. I use the work of Ninian Smart, Russell T. McCutcheon and Ivan Strenski to illustrate the case against the inclusion of theology and spirituality in the academic study of religion. In their view, theology is at best an artifact, like ritual or religious art and not an academic discipline. Conversely, I use the work of Paul Tillich, John Dunne, and Darrell Fasching to argue for the emergence of an academic theology that can play an important role in the contemporary university. In their view, theology and spirituality address the questions appropriately raised by the humanities, and can be done as long as confessional and apologetic strategies are rejected. I will show how their theories help us understand the nature of the academic study of religion to be inclusive of theology and spirituality, and so respond constructively to the negative views of Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski. My thesis is that, contrary to Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski, theology and spirituality are essential to the academic study and teaching of comparative religions in state universities. If higher education is to achieve the ideals of a liberal arts education and to offer more than the aims of a technical-vocational college curriculum, I maintain that the university education should address students' questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny and not just their need for technical skills. This should be offered under the umbrella of the humanities, including the religious studies department and is best represented in an academic theology that can inspire students to live a life that facilitates a cross-cultural and inter-religious ethic of human dignity.
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Advisor: Darrell Fasching, Ph.D.
Questions of ultimate concern
x Religious Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Theology, Spirituality, and the Academic Study of Religion in Public Universities by Don Saunders A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Religious Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Darrell Fasching, Ph.D. Dr. Mozella Mitchell, Ph.D. Dr. James Strange, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 2, 2009 Keywords: (Academic Theology, Holy, Religion, Questi ons of Ultimate Concern, Humanities) Copyright 2009, Don Saunders
i Dedication &
ii Acknowledgments Darrell J. Fasching, Dell deChant, and the en tire University of South Florida Religious Department Professors, Instructors, Faculty, Admi nistration, Graduate Assistants and Students. A human being is part of the whole called the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but the striving for such achievement is in itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security Albert Einstein
iii Table of Contents Abstract ...................................................................................................................... ........ iv Chapter One: The Controversy over the Pl ace of Theology and Spirituality in the Academic Study of Religion ................................................................................................... ........ 1 Introduction: The Humanities and the Spiritual Questions of Mortality and Meaning ....................................................................................................................... ....... 1 The Controversy over the Place of Theo logy and Spirituality in the Academic Study of Religion ............................................................................................................. ... 4 Thesis: Theology and Spirituality Ar e Essential to the Academic Study and Teaching of Comparative Religions in State Universities ................................................ 10 Chapter Two: Theology as an Artifact not an Academic Discipline ............................................. 13 Ninian Smart: Theology is not a Reputable Academic Discipline ................................... 15 Russell T. McCutcheon: Theology as Data ...................................................................... 16 Ivan Strenski: Theology as Confessionalis m Cloaked in Postmodern Garb ..................... 17 Chapter Three: Academic Theo logy and the Quest for Wisdom in the Humanities ...................... 20 Theology of Culture: Tillichs Propo sal for an Academic Theology ............................... 20 John Dunnes Model of Spiritual Theology as Academic Theology ................................ 29 Darrell Faschings Alienate d Theology as a Model for Academic Theology .................. 40 Chapter Four: Conclusion: Theology, Spirituality and the Humanities ......................................... 50 References .................................................................................................................... .................. 54 Bibliography .................................................................................................................. ................ 56
iv Theology, Spirituality, and the Academic St udy of Religion in Public Universities Don Saunders ABSTRACT This thesis examines whether the secula r institutions of American higher education should address students questions of meaning, pur pose, wisdom, and human destiny. That is, it investigates the place of the normative analysis of religious experience a nd behavior within the public university. I use the work of Ninian Smart, Russell T. McCutcheon and Ivan Strenski to illustrate the case against the inclusion of theol ogy and spirituality in the academic study of religion. In their view, theology is at best an artifact, like ritual or religious art and not an academic discipline. Conversely, I use the wo rk of Paul Tillich, John Dunne, and Darrell Fasching to argue for the emergence of an academic theology that can play an important role in the contemporary university. In their view, theology and spirituality address the questions appropriately raised by the humanities, and can be done as long as confessional and apologetic strategies are rejected. I will show how their theories help us understand the nature of the academic study of religion to be inclusive of theology and spirituality, and so respond constructively to the negative views of Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski. My thesis is that, contrary to Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski, theology and spiritualit y are essential to the academic study and teaching of comparative religio ns in state universities. If higher education is to achieve the ideals of a liberal arts education and to offer more than the aims of a technicalvocational college curriculum, I maintain that th e university education should address students
v questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny and not just their need for technical skills. This should be offered under the umbrel la of the humanities, including the religious studies department and is best represented in an academic theology that can inspire students to live a life that facilitates a cross-cultural and inter-religious ethic of human dignity.
1 Chapter One The Controversy over the Place of Theology and Spirituality in the Academic Study of Religion Introduction: The Humanities and the Spiritu al Questions of Mortality and Meaning In A Confession Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1884) te lls an ancient Eastern tale of the anxiety of the human condition as he sees it. A traveler is running across a field pursued by a ferocious beast. Coming to an empty well, the trav eler starts to climb down the well to safety. Halfway toward the bottom, he r ealizes that a hungry dragon is waiting for him below with open mouth. To save himself he grabs a small branch protruding from a crack in the wall. Dangling helplessly, the traveler begins to feel his strength ebb away. To make matters worse a mouse appears above him and starts to gnaw through the branch. As the poor traveler hangs between these two oblivions he glances up and sees a cluster of berries growing nearby, reaching out, he picks several and swallows them with gusto, How sweet they taste! Leo Tolstoy views humanity hanging in the we ll of existence between the mystery of birth and death. We wait annihilation, while dangling; we pass the time gobbling up the small pleasures that fall to our lot. Then the branch snaps and we plunge into nothingness. We have persevered a certain number of years and by now, if we are lucky we have seen through the faade of societys values and rewards. The best step is to face these monsters of life and death and choose for ourselves certain questions . These questions are: What will be the outcome of my life? Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death that awaits me does not undo and destroy? In the end, he discovered that these two worlds were not as separate as he had imagin ed, and that it was this very emptiness, the
2 terrible sense of nothing happening, that restored his faith in divine providence. It was at this point he believed is the time to begin the sacred journey of life, the journey of the soul. John Dunne studied various cultures, lives, a nd religions and tried to discover what it is that is most taken for granted within each of these areas. What Dunne discovered most necessary in a culture or a life or a religion is the cultures solution to the problem of death. In his book, The Way of All the Earth, he puts it this way The question of Being in a culture, it seems, is the problem of death, in that culture. What I mean by the problem of death is not so much the question of what happens to man after death as the question of what to do in the face of mans mortality? That is, if a man must die someday, wh at can he do to satisfy his desire to live? (p. 70). Dunnes hypothesis is seemingly correct cons idering the measures often taken in our culture toward prolonging, preventing, and even by some accounts over obsessing the biological battle with death. One analysis, from a National Medical Care Expenditure Survey, estimated that total health care expenditures during the last six months of life for 2.1 million people amounted to 44.9 billion dollars. (http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/deathmed.html accessed Jan 2009). Other examples of the financial resources devoted to this cause, reveal that over one half of the federal budget is spent on either death prevention or refining the institutions of death. Such items include; sponsoring environmental controls and clean-ups; requiring health warnings; financing weather apparatuses to monitor and predict severe storms and earthquakes; feasibility studies of nuclear weapons against threatening asteroids; Department of Defense budget; and paying for nearly onethird of the nations health care bill (ibid). Although we undertake tortuous and heroic m easures to prolong the last physical signs of life we typically do so without considering the whole well-being of the dying person. The biological cycle of birth, growth, decay, and re generation is the basic life sustaining process of the planet and is evident throughout nature. Deat h is a natural part of the cycle of life, and
3 through direct observation, one can witness that d eath is the matrix in which new life is born. However, it is possible that with medicine and science controlling the final rite of passage, death and the dying are being stripped of many of its traditional connotations. Whereas, those who are dying are being stripped of their identities, their inner self, and their pasts. With continuing advances in technology, symptoms as opposed to whole selves increasingly become the unit of treatment. Death is increasingly perceived to be a technological phenomenon that occurs when the medical staff decide that nothing more can be done. As a result, death is decreasingly likely to convey any of the meaning that brought sol ace to generations past, and the deceased are remembered not for who they were but rather for what killed them. In the hospital and the nursing home it seems people are too often reduced to their biological self, with no regard to the inner dialogue of their psychological, spiritual self, and are generally treated by strangers. Ones inner di alogue becomes not who am I, but rather what am I? In these surroundings and under these circ umstances, fears of dying are replacing the fears of death. With medicine in control of th e final rite of passage, basic cultural fears have alternated from concerns over death to the dying pr ocess itself. A latent result of this attitude is that the medicalization of old age has become e quated with the dying process. Life expectancy increases would seem to provide the occasion for so cial celebration. However, these life increases of the elderly are culturally viewed as a social problem. In view of the perception that most pr emature deaths are nowadays self-induced, there is a shared sense that such deaths are avoidable and therefore controllable. Ironically, even though the physician has become the cultural expert, forma lly in charge of an individuals final rite-ofpassage, he or she has little socialization about dying, grieving, and palliative care. The following example is one illustration, from a recent resident at an American hospital, who reflected on his lack of experience with handling a dying patient there was nothing to do for this young man with
4 head and neck cancer who was end stage. He was restless and short of breath and he looked terrified and couldnt talk. I didnt know what to do for him, so I patted him on the shoulder, said something inane and left and at 7:00 a.m. he died. The memory haunts me. I failed to care for him properly because I was ignorant . (Emanuel LL, ed, von Gunten CF, ed, Ferris FD, ed. The Education for Physicians on End-of-Life Care (EPEC) curriculum. Available at: http://www.EPEC.net Accessed Jan 2009) What was once in most pre-modern religious cultures, an interior, spiritual, and personal journey has now evolved into an exterior, physical, theoretical one. The medical field is without the vocabulary or wherewithal to engage in these matters. Many physicians can recount how poorly prepared they were as students and resident s to encounter dying patients and their families. Deficiencies in undergraduate, graduate, and c ontinuing education for end-of-life care reflect a medical culture that defines death as failure a nd ignores care for dying people as a source of professional accomplishment and meaning (American Board of Internal Medicine, 1996). Fortunately, Professional organizations including the American Medical Association and the American Board of Internal Medicine have launc hed major educational initiatives directed at both students and established clinicians, and individual medical schools are redesigning their curricula devoted to end-of-life care (Na tional Cancer Institute, 1997). The Controversy over the Place of Theology and Spirituality in the Academic Study of Religion Although there are many possibilities, the word religion probably comes from the Latin verb religare refering to a sense of being tied a nd bound, to what people hold sacred, to whatever powers are believed to govern ones destin y. The study of religion is first and foremost the study of what people hold sacred. There are many methodologies and interpretative models, used in Religious Studies that provide a structure for the analysis of religious phenomena. My
5 thesis is oriented by a phenomenological attitude that seeks to understand the meaning of human actions from the actors point of view (Faschi ng, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology p. 169). One task of the great world religions is to find a way to transform the biological story of human lives from birth to death into a meaningful journey whose destination transcends physical death and the loss of self. John Dunne suggests that one way to transfor m the biological story into a meaningful journey is through dramatic poetry and in the historical and biographical prose of the culture ( The Way of all the Earth p. 70). This is accomplished through the humanities and the students encounter with literature, religi ous and otherwise. Tolstoys encounter with the questions of mortality and meaning is a classic example. Is th e question of our mortalit y and its challenge to meaning a legitimate topic to be addressed in a uni versity curriculum? I shall argue that it is an important question to human beings and that the humanities hold a legitimate place in the university curriculum that addresses these questions. The primary emphasis of the humanities is to e ngage in what it is to be human. Humans have a basic need for meaningfulness. If death were understood to be an absolute end, many would find life devoid of meaning. Life woul d be futile no matter how one lived on earth whether one was evil or virtuous, selfish, or a ltruisticor what one achieved, the conclusion would remain the same: total nothingness and extinc tion of the self. Throughout most of history, religion has been the social institution controlling the rituals and knowledge associated with this world, and in particular, death. Its message has generally been the same: life does not conclude in this world with death, but rather one is resurr ected, reincarnated, absorb ed into some collective soul, or moves on to some heaven, hell, or worl d of shades. Utilizing the stories of the Great World Religions the ultimate goal is to be convert ed and enlightened. Each of these types of life story goes with a way of life, a nd each story or each way of life is an answer to death. By doing
6 deeds that will live on after his (her) death by realizing himself (herself) during life, man (woman) defeats death and overcomes his (her) own mortality. Each of these ways of overcoming death, Dunne continues, is a way of participating in Being. If one looks more closely at man (woman), if one turns from man (woman) in the large as he (she) appears in cultures to man (woman) in the small as he (she) appears in i ndividual lives, one finds further and more farreaching possibilities. To take an interest in Be ing, he explains, is to reflect upon what all beings share upon what is common to all, upon what is most taken for granted. ( The Way of All the Earth, pp. 69 70) In Wayne Teasdale words, from his book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religion: All forms of spirituality prepare us for our eventual encounter with death and what follows, whether th is is conceived and experienced as heaven or some form of paradise, transcendence of the human condition, subject to Samsara or rebirth, or some other ultimate state of realization (p. 230) Spirituality, here unde rstood as an exposure of human consciousness to the undefined and the unde finable and is the essence of human beings' hunger for meaning. The wisdom of how to live in the face of death is a question every human being ought to be asking. It is the question th e young doctor was ill prepared to ask and answer and so he failed his dying patient. Such unask ed and unanswered questions impoverish our experience in all walks of life. Without the humanities these deeply profound and troubling questions go unaddressed in a university education and that failure impoverishes the students who pass through the universities. Too often our students ask only how much they can make in life and not often enough do they ask how much they can make of their life According to several studies of higher educa tion in the United States, the driving force for todays college students has shifted from learni ng to earning (Financial Security is Students Goal Pay is Bigger Motivator than Learning in College Modesto Bee (CA) September 2,
7 2007 author Michelle Hatfield ). These studies rev eal that the current trend within the public university is that this student emphasis is more in-line with the aims of a technical-vocational school. This may correspond to an uneven balance of the pursuit of a skill over and above the development of the whole student. Darrell Fasching is one voice among many within the higher education that warns that a university in wh ich the humanities in their normative modes of reflection are viewed as marginal is a univers ity educating a generation of technological barbarians those whose knowledge of scientific facts and technological skills are for sale to the highest bidder (Religious Studies and the Alienati on of Theology, p.157). I am interested in exploring these normative modes of reflection within the humanities, specifically the spiritual dimension of the human personality and th e importance they have for the student. Rachel Kessler, from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, suggests that one reason for excluding a spiritual dimension within the secular institution is a mistaken belief that this is required by the separ ation of church and state. In the opening of her book, The Soul of Education, she surmises that It has become common practice for teachers to suppress student expression or exploration of their own beliefs, longings, or search for a spiritually meaningful experience (p. xiv). Kessler s evaluation of the role of education and the connection to a spiritual variable is that If we are educating for wholeness, for citizenship and leadership in a democracy, spiritual devel opment belongs in schools. But because we have concerns about separation of church and state we fear reprisal from the other side in a decade of cultural wars, educators have been relu ctant to develop a methodology and curriculum to directly address this aspect of human growth ( Nourishing the Inner Life in Schools, p. 30). Her definition of spiritual incorporates and adva nces my thesis concerning of spirituality as that which pertains to the inner life; to the depth dimension of the human experience; to students
8 longings for something more than an ordinary material, and fragmented existence ( Kessler, The Soul of Education p. X). She maintains that, The First Amendmen t to the Constitution of the United States protects [the] public from the imposition of any particular worldview or religious practices. Any teacher who espouses spiritual beliefs or w ho conducts devotional practices in the classroom is indeed violating the non-establishment cl ause. At the same time, the First Amendment protects the rights [of the students] to freely express their own beliefs Many teachers have tried to be so vigilant about keeping religion out of the classroom that they have unknowingly violated the rights of their students (ibid, p. xiv). The crux of this dialogue according to Kessler is that, If we define spirituality in terms of beliefs that one group holds and others do not, we violate the First Amendment by imposing such beliefs thr ough curriculums in public schools. And in her experience, listening to students for many years has shown her that there are many experiences that nourish their spiritual development and yet are not directly related to worldview or religious dogma It is her conviction that public institutions can honor the First Amendment without abandoning students spiritual development (ibid). Linell E. Cady, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University, cites the importance of institu tional location in addressing these issues. Given the strong church-state separation in the United States, it is not surprising that scholars of religion at public institutions appear most concerned a bout sustaining the objectivity of the scholar of religion. Nor is it surprising that private instituti ons seem to provide a more hospitable context for including the study of religion within the mi ssion of a traditional liberal arts education. According to Cady, whereas, before one could po int to the private institutions for developing these virtues, aspects of the human spirit, this is presently a limited option according to todays
9 matriculation statistics. In which, almost ei ghty percent of students attending institutions of higher education in the United States now attend public institutions (pp. 10-11). Furthermore, Dr. Astin, co-author of the UCLA report, The Spiritual Life of College Students , discloses that despite the dw indling options available ther e still remains considerable interest among students to explore their spirituality if you dig beneath the surface, youll find students have a curiosity in spiritual developmen t. The UCLA report found that students showed a generous level of religious to lerance and acceptance for those outside their own beliefs and Dr. Astin posits that, an atheist student needs that ju st as much as a believer to make sense of their lives and understand themselves better [and that] ha ving an academic basis for it would make it all the more powerful of an experience (Colle ge Students Spiritual Side Fleshed Out in National Study by Natasha Lee Los Angeles Times ). Delwin Brown argues that regardless of these demographic trends the public university is an appropriate environment for the analysis of religious belief, because it is an open-minded forum interested in the discovery of the diver se aspects of being a human without biases, and how these discoveries can contribute to society in un iversal discourse towards, all individuals regardless of culture, gender, race, or religion( Academic Theology in the University pp. 135 136). His position is that, The academy has become an increasingly influential arbiter of knowledge during the modern period in Western culture (ibid). The premise of his statement is that today the university is our cultures central and most comprehensive producer of knowledge. Individuals, especially young people, wh o once were educated in homes, religious communities, guilds, community organizations, so cial movements, and the like, now complete their education in the university (ibid). He empha sizes, the massive influence of the university is the best argument for including within the academic curriculum the study of any phenomenon of social and cultural importance, and relates this argument to other studies such as those related
10 to the physical world and the social, political, and cultural dimensions of the human world(ibid). Each of these he argues is of su ch significance that a sensible society cannot afford to exclude them from careful academic scrutiny. Brown reports that the same considerations hold for religions, their histories, rituals, organizational structures, and patterns of influence and change and of course, religious beliefs (ibid). Darrell Fasching seems to be in agreement with Brown as to the role of the pub lic academy as an increasingly influential arbiter of knowledge and suggests that there is no neut ral, universal public realm of discourse, and that secular discourse is just one more narrative tradition of sacred discourse alongside many others. (Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology, p. 164). Although, Russell T. McCutche on is not one necessarily in favor of including a spiritual dimension within the disciplines of the Pu blic University, he offers an explanation of Browns and Faschings views: we must never fail to recognize that [all] scholars are just as deeply involved in the art of rhetoric, contest ation, and social formation as anyone else (The Study of Religion as an Anthropology of Credibilit y, pp. 18-19). The driving question, Brown contends, is not whether this or that [religious ] outlook is true or truer than others, but how it is to be understood and appraised in relation to the various criteria, conceptual and practical, that are defensible within the academy (Academic Th eology in the University, p. 136). For the university to neglect a disciplined examination of theology and spirituality within the academic study of religion would be in Browns words as foolish as excluding an examination of the philosophical presuppositions, economic practices, and gender roles operational in society (ibid). Thesis: Theology and Spiritua lity Are Essential to the Academic Study and Teaching of Comparative Religions in State Universities This thesis examines whether the secular institutions of American higher education should address students questions of meaning, purpose, wisd om, and human destiny. That is, it investigates the
11 place of the normative analysis of religious experience and behavior within the pub lic university. I use the work of Ninian Smart, Russell T. McCutcheon and Ivan Strenski to illustrate the case against the inclusion of theology and spirituality in the academic study of religion. In their view, theology is at best an artifact, like ritual or religious art and not an acad emic discipline. Conversely, I use the work of Paul Tillich, John Dunne, and Darrell Faschi ng to argue for the emergence of an academic theology that can play an important role in the c ontemporary university. In their view, theology and spirituality address the questions appropriately raised by the humanities, and can be done as long as confessional and apologetic strategies are rejected. I will show how their theories help us understand the natu re of the academic study of religion to be inclusive of theology and spiritualit y, and so respond constructively to the negative views of Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski. My thesis is that, contrary to Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski, theology and spirituality are essential to the academic study and teaching of comp arative religions in state universities. If higher education is to achieve the ideals of a liberal arts educ ation and to offer more than the aims of a technicalvocational college curriculum, I maintain that the un iversity education should address students questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny and not just their need for technical skills. This should be offered under the umbrella of the humanities, in cluding the religious studies department and is best represented in an academic theology th at can inspire students to live a life that facilitates a cross-cultural and inter-religious ethic of human dignity. To this end, I will investigate how an individual seeks and finds the answers to what Paul Tillich referre d to as ultimate questions such as: Why am I here? Where am I going? What is my purpose? Within these questions one examines their customary conceptions of life, death, knowledge, society, po litics, and the world in general. I will explore the question of whether the secular institutions of American higher education should address students questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny, and the findings of my discovery. The procedure for carrying out the task will be rather st raightforward. In order to present this thesis in a
12 coherent fashion, my argument will be divided into four chapters. This first chapter has set forth the problem and my thesis statement. Chapter Two will inv estigate three of the leading scholars who consider theology as an artifact and not an academic discipline; beginning with Ninian Smart, who views theology as preaching, typically connected to denominational roots in a community, not as a reputable discipline within the public university. Russe ll T. McCutcheon advances Smarts observations and believes that the only prospect of theology is to function as a source of data within the anthropological field. Ivan Strenski dismisses theology as a sophisticated form of c onfessionalism, cloaked in postmodern garb, and concludes that it is too late to nuance the term given its deep theistic and confessional ties. Chapter Three will analyze three important responses to the positions of Smart, McCutcheon and Strenski, beginning with pioneer, Paul Tillich and his model of a theology of culture. Such a theology seeks normative moment s in all the religions using the methods of history, philosophy and the social sciences. Follo wed by John Dunnes theory of passing over and coming back, which he describes as a spiritual a dventure attentive to the wisdom found in the lives and literatures of all religions and cultures. Concluding with Darre ll Faschings alienated theology, a theology that seeks to identify normative insight s found in the narratives of hospitality that are found in diverse religions a nd cultures. Finally, in Chapter Four I will summarize my argument showing how theology a nd spirituality can make important and essential contributions to religious studies, the humanities, and the curriculum of secular institutions of higher education as a whole.
13 Chapter Two Theology as an Artifact not an Academic Discipline I will begin this section with a brief review of the history of th eology. Theology comes from the Greek words logos and theos which are literally translated as words about god. Theology began with the use of the allegorical method to interpret Greek myths. This method was transferred to Hellenistic Judaism, especially by Philo of Alexandria, a Neo-Platonist, whose intent was to bridge both the Jewish and Hellenis tic worlds. The Christian Neo-Platonists, such as Clement and Origen of Alexandria, in turn adopt ed the allegorical method to assimilate Jewish and Christian myth. When Jewish Hellenism died out what remained was the application of philosophical reason to beliefs about God and the rational illumination of theism towards the development of a Christian theology. The great figures of Christian Theology include Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Lu ther, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Sren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, and Paul Tillich to name a few. Theology, as an academic discipline emerge d with the rise of medieval universities during the 12th and 13th Centuries. It had the status of queen of sciences due to the interdependent nature of the discipline, employing and governing all other disciplines towards the rational interpretation of religious substance, albeit exclusively Christian. It became less legitimate with the rise of the enlightenment. Ne w intellectual ideals ar ose focusing on autonomy of the scholar, open inquiry, and empirical studies, rather than appeal to authoritative sources (Cady and Brown, Religious Studies, Theology, and the University p.3). Immanuel Kant was an important figure in the evolution of theological studies in the academic environment. In his work entitled, The Conflict of Faculties Kant argued for the distinction of philosophical studies from
14 professional studies. With this, the university focused on liberal art studies, while professional schools focused on disciplines like law, medicine, an d theology. In the United States, the study of religion was usually found in theology department s in private, religiously affiliated universities and colleges. The academic study of religion in public universities did not begin until the 1960s. The distinction between religious studies and theo logy was established to allow the inclusion of the study of religion as a university discipline, defined as teaching about religion, whereas theology is identified as the teaching of religion Many theologians transferred into the field of religious studies, and presented theology as a human science. This is when the debate began that paired theology and religious st udies against each other (Ibid). Linell Cady and Delwin Brown, remark that the discipline of theology in the North America context has been largely a Christian theo logy, due to the dominance of Christianity in the West. Therefore, religious studies had primarily emerged to some extent within, and to some extent over against the Christian theological inquiry. Although, theology sometimes presupposes the Christian modifier, reflecting the historic roots of the discipline, they believe, it has increasingly been appropriated to identify a fo rm of intellectual reflection within other world religions, such as Islam, Judaism, and Buddhi sm, and more amorphous religious/cultural traditions such as post-Christian and New Age. They also recognize that there are problems with the global extension of the term religion beyond its Western roots. Nevertheless, they speculate that the migration of the term theology be yond its Christian prototype does have interesting implications for the issue of its relationship to religious studies and the university in an increasingly global environment (Ibid, p.12). There are a wide range of positions regard ing the boundary between religious studies and theology, and their appropriate institutional loca tions. However there are basically two major factions: on one camp scholars believe that religious studies should be restricted to the social
15 scientific study of religion, and the other that religious studies should balance the scientific approach with the humanities; such as, literature, drama, art, language, philosophy, history, and theology. Religious studies is construed as a soci al science that belongs within the university. Theology, on the other hand, is viewed as a form of spiritual instruction that belongs within an ecclesiastical or religious community concerne d with personal formation. The presumption, Cady and Brown state, is that religious studies is (or more accurately, perhaps, should exclusively be) an objective, empirical form of study, and theology, a subjective, religious activity. This mutually defining dialectic, or clo se variants, according to them, has provided the basis for the self-understanding and justification of religious studies within the modern university: legitimated the displacement or marginalization of theology from the university to the seminary or divinity school; and in consequence, heav ily influenced the character and conversation partners of theology in the modern period (Ibid, p.2). Ninian Smart: Theology is not a Reputable Academic Discipline One major voice for the social scientific appro ach is the influential former President of the American Academy of Religion, Ninian Smart. According to Smart, Religious Studies, as conceived and developed during th e 1960s and beyond, is the multidisciplinary or poly-methodic study of religions and analogous institutionalized ideologies. Religious studies, is secular, impartial and empathetic (Smart, R eligious Studies and Theology, in The Council of Societies for the Study of Religion Bulletin 25, no. 3 September 1997: pp.66-68). In Smarts view theology is an artifact not an academic discipline. He be lieved that theology is religious, partisan and apologetic. Theology, typically connects to denom inational roots in a community (Ibid). That is, he adds, theologies and theologians are da ta which religious studies scholars sometimes study, alongside of texts, ritual, archeological artifacts, etc (Ibid). He saw the distinction between the two as explaining religion versus preaching it. Religious studies, is empirical,
16 descriptive, explanatory and methodologically agno stic. Engaging in religious studies, he tells us, is like holding up a mirror to the religions of the world, it reflects them but makes no assumptions, leaving that to each individual beholder (Ibid). Religious studies is non-finite. Its subject matter is inherently open-ended so as to permit further development of its methods and subject matter, as opposed to theology, which he claims is a faith-based and church related activity. Theology is essentially preaching no matte r how sophisticated it gets. He believed that the difference between religious studies and theo logy is that the first uses descriptive studies and the latter is based on value judgments and anyone who cannot tell the difference is unprofessional. Theology, he surmised is what it has always been and it must not claim to be something else in order to be smuggled into the religious studies field (ibid.) Russell T. McCutcheon: Theology as Data Standing on the same end of the continuu m as Smart is Russell McCutcheon who, perhaps unaware, emphasizes Smarts comments when he italicizes the following statement in his article, The Study of Religion as an Anthropology of Credibility, that all theologians are fair game as data (p. 14). For McCutcheon, theology cons titutes part of the data that scholars of religion seek to theorize and any perceived overl ap simply reflects a failure to distinguish the markedly different order of question each addr esses. McCutcheon, a disciple of Smarts through Donald Wiebe, argues that a clear line of demarc ation separate religious studies and theology, in theory if not in practice and the intellect ual credibility of religious studies depends upon protecting the viability of this line (Cady and Brown, Religious Studies, Theology, and the University p 2). There are many academics in religious studies departments like McCutcheon, who oppose the inclusion of theology in religious studies because it blurs this line between the two studies and therefore weakens their position as a legitimate discipline within the secular community. Significantly, the wall separating theo logy from the academic study of religion in
17 McCutcheons conceptual landscape also functions to separate the humanities interpreter of religion who, in his view, essentially rein scribes the emic perspective, from a more anthropological variant of the academic study of religion (Ibid, p 6). McCutcheon treats the humanities, in the same light as Smart in he sees it as just another form of preaching. Ivan Strenski: Theology as Confessiona lism Cloaked in Postmodern Garb Ivan Strenski similar to Russell McCutcheon is a proponent of maintaining the boundary between religious studies and theology. Arguing that a clear line of demarcation separates religious studies and theology, and the intellect ual credibility of religious studies depends upon protecting the viability of this line (Ibid, p. 6) He dismisses the recen t challenge to this boundary inclusive of a more theological spectru m as a sophisticated form of confessionalism, cloaked in fashionable postmodern garb, and th e other he considers a form of hermeneutics, perfectly appropriate within religious studies but not distinctively theological. Reflecting on the various senses of the term theology and the motiva tions for seeking to retain it, he concludes that it is too late to nuance the term, given its deep theistic and confessional ties (Ibid). Theology cannot escape its home generative context in real religious discourse. In the university theology can never be the banne r under which students of religion might unite because, rightly or wrongly, the term raises too many suspicions (34). He does however offer a suggestion as a possible distinctive role for a properly rehabilitated theology within the university. That is not to reshap e theology into religious studies ra ther seek what theologians have contributed to the religious tradition in which they had a part and to assume the place in religious studies that many of us wait for them to occupy (43).
18 In concluding this chapter, I am in agre ement with Strenski, Sm art, and McCutcheon, that there is no place for confessional (church rela ted) theology within the state universities. However, without going into great detail, th ey and other functional reductionists are antiphenomenological. That is, these scholars are of th e mindset that religion can, in every case, be reduced to some other root cause. Or, more brusquely stated by McCutcheon, unlike the theologian, for the scholar of religion qua anthr opologist of credibility there is nothing religious about religion (The Study of Religion as an Anth ropology of Credibility,p. 26). Of course, if this is how one defines religion, theology, whet her academic or not, has no place within religious studies. Further, any attempt to justify doing so is at the risk of undermining the integrity of religious studies. For those that do not pre-suppose the existence of an ultim ate reality or ultimate power, normalizing endeavors, be they academic or otherwise, are vacuous, even foolish, exercises. For McCutcheon, religious studies h as long been trying to prove and maintain its credibility in the academy. As he notes in his essay, every new generation of academic intent on studying religion as nothing more or less than hum an behavior will have to keep reinventing the wheel so as to retain a space in the public university for their brand of scholarship (McCutcheon, The Study of Religion as an Anthropology of Credibility, pp.13-14). This statement speaks volumes as to the chasm between th e two camps; it is as if they are speaking of two distinct topics. In many ways, they are. In the end, whereas Smart saw the line of theology and religious studies blurred a nd McCutcheon admits that they are intimately related it is Strenski, perhaps more than the other two, who o ffers the most clarity into the ongoing dispute within the academic study of religion. Strenski believes that the serious differences over the relation of theology, run deep that neither si de of the debate has succeeded in understanding one another as much as we would like and that both are insufficiently clear about how best to join the issues (Ibid). In the following chapter, I will present three leading scholars who Strenski
19 calls the folk on the opposite side of the deba te, and their views on how they reason theology would best be represented within the public university discourse.
20 Chapter Three Academic Theology and the Quest for Wisdom in the Humanities Theology of Culture: Paul Tillichs Proposal for an Academic Theology The path to finding spiritual wisdom is a personal inner journey into the core of the interiority of all humankind. My thesis identifies this as an aspect of the holy. No discussion of the holy within an academic setting can take place without some mention of Rudolf Ottos Das Heilige, The Idea of the Holy For it is through Ottos definition of the holy as that which commands our respect, as that whose real value is to be acknowledged inwardly as a combined, complex category of both rational and non-ratio nal components referred to something still deeper than the pure reason named the fundus animae the bottom or ground of the soul that my thesis has employed to identify the Ho ly, (p. 51 & 112). The idea of the Holy unfolded throughout this thesis follows along Ottos, as a cat egory of interpretation and valuation peculiar to the sphere of religion (p. 5). Therefore the greater part of my thesis takes place within the background of religious studies. The irony to those who are familiar with Ottos work, Das Heilige is that he found the term Holy no longer accu rate nor suitable to reflect the true essence of his Idea of the Holy. So much so, that he cho se to eliminate the term altogether and renamed it numinous. My thesis is in agreement with Otto to the extent that the term has lost some of its effectiveness; however, one task I will undertake will be to retain the integrity of its meaning. The religious sphere for Otto, as for many, is distinctive and set apart from the culture as a whole. As a matter fact,in Hebrew (qadosh) the word 'holy' signifies being set apart. However, one scholar who did not completely agree with this conclusion was Paul Tillich.
21 According to Fasching, Tillich saw the sphere of religion not so much as being an exclusive sphere of culture but rather as a depth dimens ion that underlies all cultural activities whether that culture assumes a religious or as secular guise (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology, p. 162). In this section I will contemplate this view and consult Paul Tillich and his model of theology of culture as well as his identification of the septh and ground of being and how this is applicab le to the expression of the Holy, th eology, and spirituality. In the remainder of this chapter, I shall discuss John Dunnes theory of passing over and coming back, heretofore mentioned as a spiritual adventure, concluding with Darrell Faschings assessment of the role an alienated theology could play to the development of an academic theology. Paul Tillich argues that while in the past, theology was confessional, the present requires a new way of doing theology, an acad emic theology. Theology is not a historical discipline; it is a constructive task. It does not tell us what people have thought the message to be in the past; rather it tries to give us an interpretation of the message which is relevant to the present situation ( Systematic Theology p.4). Theology, as Tillich insists, is about that which concerns us ultimately. Theology must consider the creativ e interpretation of existence, an interpretation which is carried on in every period of history (i bid). Theology deals with the meaning of being for us (rather than philosophy that deals with the structure of being in itself.) (Ibid, p. 22). Nothing can be of ultimate concern for us whic h does not have the power of threatening and saving our being the term being means the whole of human reality, the structure, the meaning, and the aim of existence(Ibid, p. 14). A stat ement is theological not because it relates to a particular B/being called God, but because it asks ultimate questions about the meaning of existence: it asks what, at the level of theos at the level of its deepest mystery, is the reality and significance of our life. (Robinson, Honest to God p. 49).
22 Tillich evaluated the possibilities for the emerge nce of an academic form of theology in his 1920 paper entitled, On the Idea of a Theology of Culture. He was the first to propose a non-church, secular based academic model for theol ogy, called a theology of culture. Theology of culture, according to Tillich is a theology wh ich emphasizes that the religious dimension is present in all spiritual and intellectual life (Systematic Theology, p.42). A theologian of culture defines it subject matter not as God or revelation or even dogma but rather as the study and critique of human religi ous experience (i.e., of the sacred in all its diversity). In this, his first ever published work, the concern that preocc upied Tillich was the function of theology in a modern, secularized, scientific culture, and th e place of theology among the faculties of the modern university. He recognized that the academic study of religion changed the way in which one would have to do theology. That is, academic theology could not be Christian theology in any traditional sense and only when theology is understood as a normative branch of knowledge concerned with religion can it find its place in the secular university ( What is Religion? p.180). It is noteworthy to mention that although he started his career attempting to move beyond his apologetic, church theologian beliefs, toward an academic theology through his theology of culture, he did not embrace it but remained an apologetic theologian for most of his life. Tillich established four assumptions on the connection and correspondence of individual revelation and religion and the possible relati onship between religious meaning and culture. First, one must say that revelatory experien ces are universally human. Religions are based on something that is given to a man (woman) wherever he lives (p. 81). His (her) second assumption states that revelation is received by man (woman) in terms of his finite human situation. That is, man (woman) is biologically, psychologically, and sociologically limited. Revelation is received under the c ondition of mans (womans) estranged character. It is always
23 received in distorted form. Third, one must accep t the relationship of revelation to its limits. The fourth assumption is of particular interest towards understanding the foundation for such revelatory universalistic significant experiences originating from within the Holy. According to Tillich, the experience of the holy de-sacra lizes and calls into question the sacredness as sacramental in three distinct ways. The three critical expressions of the holy oppose the way things are with the way things ought to be. Such criticism takes three forms: the mystical, the prophetic, and the secular. Within the mystical, ther e is a type of mysticism that criticizes the sacred metaphysically or ontologically, declaring that the holy is radically different or wholly other than this world and therefore cannot be iden tified with any finite thing. Specifically Tillich points out that, the mystical movement means that one is not satisfied with any of the concrete expressions of the Ultimate or Holy. One goes beyond them. Man (woman) goes to the one beyond any manifoldness. The embodiments are justified. They are accepted but they are secondary. One must go beyond them in order to reach the highest, the Ultimate itself (ibid, p. 87). Secondly, the prophetic is a critique of the ethical danger of identifying the finite (ones particular way of life) as ultimate in being and va lue. This identification leads to treating ones sacred way of life as beyond all criticism. Las tly, the secular is the ethical critique of the irrationality of the sacred and calls into question the demonic irrationality that allows religions and cultures to teach hatred and prejudice to ward others (strangers) and call it good because doing so serves what is sacred, or because God commands it (Ibid, p. 89). Tillich reminds us that, we are all at the same time going through this secularism the daily work going on [the] campus and elsewhere is based on the secularism of the Western world, stemming from the Renaissance. We cannot escape it. There can be very solid expressions of ultimate concern in secular language. That is, they can be this as long as a religious substance remains effective in them desp ite the secularization, or as long as the ultimate concern or the
24 infinite passion is still in them and shines th rough them(pp. 34 36). This infinite passion that Tillich speaks of is what I have identif ied as one aspect of the Holy. The comparative experiences of the Holy across cultures is one em phasis of an academic theology. Tillich believed that the key to the theological understanding of a cu ltural creation is its style. There is a style of thought, of politics, of said life, etc, and the style of the period expresses itself in its cultural forms, in its choice of objects, in the attitudes of its creative personality, in its institutions and customs. It requires religions inte ntion, on the basis of an ultimate concern, to look into the depth of style, to penetrate to the level where an u ltimate concern exercises its driving power. This is what is demanded of the theologian of culture and in performing this function he opens up a creative source for theology (Systematic Theology p.40). Over time, the Holy became slowly the morally good, or the philosophically true, and later the scientifically true, or the aesthetically expressive. But then, according to Tillich, a profound dialectic appears. The secular shows its inab ility to live by itself. The secular which is right in fighting against the domination by the Holy, becomes empty and becomes victim of what I call quasi-religions ( The Significance of the History of Religions for the Systematic Theologian p. 90). He sees quasi-religions as inadequate to overcome the sense of separation and estrangement of man (woman), because they grow out of a victorious secularism (Donald Mackenzie Brown, Ultimate Concern Tillich in Dialogue, p. 38). He defines secularism here as a means of turning toward the cultural producti ons of the finite and in doing so, producing philosophy, sciences, and politics indepe ndent of their religious source ( The Essential Tillich: An Anthology of the Writings of Paul Tillich By Paul Tillich, F. Forrester Church, 1999, p. 199). These quasi-religions lose their relationship to the ultimate sources (the Holy) of meaning, and consequently, he believes they become empty, and provoke or invite other forces to enter into it (ibid). And this emptiness is according to Tillich the danger of the loss of meaning,
25 because of the turning of the mind toward the pr oduction of cultural goods in autonomous ways autonomous, in the sense of following the inde pendent forms of these various cultural ideas (aesthetic, logical, ethical, political) and thus losi ng the religious substance [the Holy] which underlies all of them at the point of their highest creativity (ibid). One must recognize that there are elements in the experience of the Holy which are always there, if the Holy is experienced. ( The Significance of the History of Religions, p. 86). Tillich derives that the lasting necessity of religion is the fact that religion is the substance of culture, and religions intentionality is toward substance, wh ich is the unconditional source and abyss of meaning, and cultural forms serve as symbols of that substance. Cultures intentionality is toward the form representing unconditional meaning ( On the Boundary p.70). Every culture, Tillich argues, is driven by its re ligious substance, which is the human need for meaning expressed and embodied in its ultimate conc ern. (i.e., what matters most or is held sacred). The way in which such meaning is expresse d is shaped by the symbolic forms available in the culture. The religious dimension is reveal ed not by the content in itself (whether it is scientific, political, economical, or artistic activity, et c...) but rather by the meaning attributed to the content through symbolic forms of expression (the narratives and ritual actions that convey the power and importance of these activities) (ibid). Ritual acts, forms and attributes do not contradict a passion for the secular if they are u nderstood for what they are, symbolic forms in which the religious substance that supports our en tire existence is represented in an unique way. The meaning of a ritual or sacramental act is not that the act is holy in itself, but that it is a symbol of the Unconditional which alone is holy and which is and is not, in all things at the same time (Ibid, p.73). In the presence of the Unconditional there is no preferred sphere. There are no persons, scriptures, communities, institutions, or actions that are holy in themselves. The profane can profess the quality of holiness, and th e holy does not cease to be profane. It seems to
26 me that the unconditional character of religion b ecomes far more manifest if it breaks out from within the secular, disrupting and transforming it. It is a question, rather, of their openness to the holy, the sacred, in the unfathomable depths of ev en the most secular relationship (pp. 46-48). Tillich viewed the task of the theologian of culture to identify and critique the religious dimension implicit in all cultures, including secu lar culture. The (systematic) theologian can interpret that which transcends all possible systems, the self-manifestation of the divine mystery, in a systematic form (Ibid, p.68). The powers str uggling with one another in history can be given different names according to the perspective fro m which they are viewed. The critique draws upon a typology of possible relations between religious meaning and culture, namely, the typology of heteronomy, autonomy, and theonomy. First, autonomy asserts that man (woman) as the bearer of universal reason is the source and me asure of culture and religion, in other words, that he (she) is his (her) own law. Second, he teronomy asserts that man (woman), being unable to act according to universal reason, must be subjected to a law, strange and superior to him (her). Third, theonomy asserts that the superior law is, at the same time, the innermost law of man (woman) himself (herself), rooted in the divi ne ground contained within mans (womans) ground, in which, the law of life transcends man (woman), although it is, at the same time, his (her) own ( Writings in the Philosophy of Culture, By Paul Tillich, Michael F. Palmer, p. 199). Applying these concepts to the relationshi p between religion and culture, Tillich called an autonomous culture, the attempt to create the fo rms of personal and social life without any reference to something ultimate and unconditional, following only the demands of theoretical and practical rationality, and this he relates to the secular. A heteronomous culture, on the other hand, subjects the forms and laws of thinking and acti ng to authorative criteria of an ecclesiastical religion or a political quasi-religion, even at the price of destroying the structures of rationality, and relates with some particular institution, su ch as the Church. Finally, a theonomous culture
27 expresses in its creations an ultimate concern and a transcending meaning not as something strange but as its own spiritual ground, and relat es to a theology of culture (ibid). Theonomy is not about God Theos as a dogmatic category but about the experienced demand for selftranscendence, both individual and communal. In th is context theology is understood within an academic discipline in the modern university as all authentic experiences of self-transcendence, whether construed in theistic or non-theistic term s. The task of theology of culture is not to impose some arbitrary dogmatic heteronomous relig ious vision on culture, but to release the inner drive toward self-transcendence alr eady at work in every sphere of culture. It is the question put to every answer, the utopian inner drive for meaning and understanding that can break through any given form and transform any and every sphe re of cultural activity (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology, p. 164). Tillich affirms in his article, The Significance of the History of Religions for the Systematic Theologian, concerning theonomy and the relationship between religion and culture, that the history of religions in its essential natu re does not exist alongside the history of culture. The sacred does not lie beside the secular, but it is its depths. The sacred is the creative ground and at the same time, a critical judgment of the secular. But the religious can be this only if it at the same time, a judgment on itself, a judgment whic h must use the secular as a tool of ones own religious self-criticism(p. 82). For the first tim e in the history of civilization, human beings have come to realize that they do not live directly in nature but rather in culture that is to say, language and story not in a divinely constructe d natural order but a humanly constructed social order (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alie nation of Theology, p. 162). The way in which meaning is expressed within this new order is sh aped by these narratives and symbols available in culture. Consequently, natural theology would have to be replaced by theology of culture. Paul Tillich lays it out this way, Let us therefore fo rget these concepts, as concepts, and try to find
28 their genuine meaning within our own experience ( The Shaking of the Foundations p. 46). We all know that we cannot separate ourselves at an y time from the world to which we belong. There is no ultimate privacy or final isolation. We are always held and comprehended by something that is greater than we are, that has a claim upon us, and that demands response from us. The most intimate motions within the depths of our souls are not completely our own. These, Holy, intimate motions, belong also to our friends, to mankind, to the universe, and to the Ground of all being, the aim of our life. The centre of our whole being is involved in the centre of all being; and the centre of all being rests in the center of our being(ibid). In his final lecture, On the Significance of the History of Religions for the Sy stematic Theologian, Tillich hypothesized that religion is not a special function of mans spiritual life, but it is the dimension of depth in all of its functions, within the Ground of Being. (p. 86 ). When Tillich speaks of depth, he is not speaking of another being at all He is speaking of the infin ite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being (ibid). My thesis identifies this Ground of Being as a characteristic of the holy, in-line with an earlier reference to Otto w ho identified the non-rational elements of the Holy to something still deeper than the pure reason, the fundus animae the bottom or ground of the soul. One of the keys of my thesis is in positioni ng the realm of the holy, to exist simultaneously and in a complementary way within the diffe rent dimensions of human experience. The theoretical deployment of Tillichs theology of culture, understood as reasoned discourse about an Ultimate Concern that grasps or binds an individual, culture, religion, or whole nation in the experience of the Holy within the finite through the depth and ground of being is one of the places where my thesis identifies a way theology and spirituality can be recognized in a crosscultural inter-religious way within the public institutions of American higher education. Despite proposing an academic theology of th e history of religions, Tillich never fully developed the theological model he first prepared in 1920. He spoke of his own theological stance
29 as being on the boundary between Christianity and secular culture, between Christianity and other religions, etc. In spite of his academic th eology proposals, he neve r quite became the free agent he envisioned at the beginning of this career In his last published paper shortly before his death, he returned to his apologetic Christian be liefs, envisioning a tentative Christological center to what he called The Religi on of the Concrete Spirit ( The Significance of the History of Religions, p.87). The dilemma he faced it seems wa s how to speak from a concrete standpoint and still be a free agent open to other experionces of transcendence. In the next section, we will investigate John Dunnes spiritual methodology of passing over as a viable option for advancing Tillichs theology of culture, experiencing, expr essing, and conveying the non-rational elements of the Holy as a bridge over to the academic discipline of theology in the public institution. John Dunnes Model of Spiritual Theology as Academic Theology John Dunnes book, The Way of All the Earth is in his words The third phase of a personal journey. In the firs t phase he engaged in what he called passing over to other cultures, in terms of their answers to their questions about death discussed in his work, The City of Gods In the second phase, In Search for God in Time and Memory, his concern of cultures answers for the questions of death le d him to the individuals life story within Western Culture and is when he began to use the term passing over as is related to this thesis. In The Way of All the Earth, he culminates his study to include different standpoints of the individual life story, found in the diverse religions and cultures of the world. We will be most attentive to his methodology for a spiritual odyssey that involves a passing from ones individual standpoint over into anothers life, culture, and re ligion. Equally important in this adventure is returning back, back to ones individual standpoint The goal of which is that one will gain new insight into ones own culture, ones own way of life, and ones own religion, as well as the others.
30 If one passes over from one religion to another one is set apart upon an inner journey. This journey towards an inner peace is experi enced as collective, sh ared Holiness expressed within the Ground of Being not found in any one of the religions alone. This inner journey is that of a man in pursuit of wisdom who is willing to find wisdom not only in the Gospel, if he has been brought up as a Christian, but also in the Dharma and the Koran. Choosing this way of life would mean turning whatever specific way of life one chooses into a path of prayer or voyage of discovery [then] living by the discoveries and unde rstanding which one obtains on that path or voyage (p. 126). A further realization that the being towards which one is becoming is not purely personal, that is a shared being comes about as one passes over from ones own life and culture and religion to other lives, cultures, religions a nd returns to a more comprehensive understanding of ones own. This Dunne claims, places him at a distance from all the relig ions, even the one to which he travels therefore, reflecting as it does his own heart, mind, and soul and will not necessarily be the traditional path by which his religion was spread (p. 130). This could be the focus of all inner journeys to what we all share, the axis mundi, and the ground of being. Gandhis life and his work is the inspira tion for Dunnes methodology, particularly, Gandhis autobiography, Experimenting with Truth and his application of allegory. According to Dunne, The holy man of our time, it seems, is not a figure like Gotama or Jesus or Mohammed, a man who could found a world religion, but a figure like Gandhi, a man who passes over by sympathetic understanding from his own religion to other religions and comes back again with new insight to his own ( The Way of All the Earth p. ix). Buddha, Mohammad, and Jesus are studied by Dunne and the location of the common (Holy) spiritual components within each of the Great World Religions as expressed through th ese religious founders. However in the course of his studies he began to recognize that the sp iritual experiences on which the religions were based were common experiences shared by all, and the uncommon thing was the insight of the
31 religious founders, not the experiences, that is specifically their enlightenments and revelations (p. xii). This section will identify those experiences, and present a theory connected to understanding Dunnes theory of passing ov er and coming back, as a spiritual adventure. Consequently, this section will disclose that one wa y the spiritual is manifested is through what Dunne calls passing over in relation to Tillichs understanding of an ultimate concern for Depth and Ground of Being. The spiritual adventure for our times is a passing over to anothers Ground of Being through narratives into the depths of th e other and returning back enlightened with compassion to the underlying meaning that lie outside the narrative itself. Let us recall, by way of review, that when Tillich speaks of God in the depths, he is not speaking of another being at all. He is speak ing of the infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being, of our ultimate concern, of what we take seriously without reservation not only to the depths of our personal life but to the deepest springs of our social and historical existence. Dunnes understanding of the relati onship between the depth and ground of being appears similar to that imagined by Tillich a nd useful as a gateway to human interiority. A depth can appear in the most common human e xperiences, an abyss which opens like a narrow and bottomless crevice at crucial points in a human life. A man leaps over the abyss as he goes from one stage of life to another. He crosses ove r the abyss by sympathetic understanding to another human being and crosses over again in comi ng back to himself (pp. xii xiii). This opening that Dunne speaks of could be the ga teway into where Tillich located the center of our whole being involved in the center of all being; and the centre of all being rests in the center of our being(On the Significance of the History of Religions for the Systematic Theologian, p. 86). That is a characteristic common to all human ity. By incorporating Dunnes notion of passing over into Tillichs Depth and Ground of Being, one may be able to locate the Holy within oneself and also recognize the Holy within the other. This could be, to utilize a religious
32 metaphor, a type of Jacobs ladder, in which one enters through their individual Ground of Being into the Holy and gains access from the Holy into anothers Ground of Being and vice-versa. In this way the spiritual adventure, the journey is through the embodiment of the holy into the Ground of Being. The spiritual adventure of our time, according to Jung, is the exposure of human consciousness to the undefined and the undefinable ( The Way of All the Earth p. 112 ) This is the journey Dunne would persuade us to embark upon howe ver he believes that to expose ones consciousness to new experience and unde rstanding would be exposing it to something undefined but nevertheless definabl e. The constant exposure to wh at is undefined but definable which occurs as one goes through life, taking each new stage of life as further experience and finding in it a further understanding of things, is rather a journey with God (Ibid, p.113). God, here following Tillich, is a symbol for the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what is taken seriously without any reservation. Dunne would have his readers imagine two fi gures on a road walking together into the distance. As long as the daylight lasts the two can be seen walking side by side. As the night comes on, however, it becomes difficult to distin guish them any longer. As the darkness grows the two seem to merge into one. Say the two figures are man and God. Say the days journey is the course of mans life from birth to death. This merging of the two figures at nightfall, in mans death, according to Dunne suggests the famous sentence of the Upanishads, You are that (tat tvam asi) the sentence could mean he postulates that You are what God is...The experience which leads to statements like these is the inspiration for passing over, passing over to other men and passing over to God. Passing ove r to other men, passing into their ground of being, entering into their lives by sympathetic understanding is an experience of sympathy and resonance. That, he states means finding within yourself something corresponding to what you see in another. It leads to the general discovery that you have within yourself everything that
33 exists in every other man (ibid, p. 219). This creative power at work in mans life is according to Dunne what God is, and that this powers aim, its vision of man, is what man is (p. 228). In other words, it means, Dunne believes that I ha ve within me the basis for understanding not only other human beings but also all other living beings indeed all beings that the creative power at work in my life is the same power which is at work in other human lives and in all lives and existences (p. 231). This creative power is a ma nifestation of the holy. The same creative power seems to be at work in time as mankind goes from prehistory to history, as the world religions arise, and as mankind goes on from history to world history. The same creative power seems to be at work as the inorganic world becomes an organic world and as the organic world becomes a human world (ibid). Tillich reveals a corresponding creative nature a natura naturans the creative ground of all natural objects. He is aw are that In modern naturalism the religious quality of these affirmations has almost disapp eared, especially among philosophizing scientists who understand nature in terms of ma terialism and mechanisms (Robinson, Honest to God, p. 31). Dunne believes that all of humanity can share in the creative common experiences of humankind. The technique of passing over is based on the process of eliciting images from ones feelings attaining insight into the images, and turning insight into a guide of life. The one condition to passing over is essentially, a matter of sympathetic understanding; a man must have within him somehow what he finds in another. That is, to become receptive to the images, which give expression to his feelings, attain in sight into those images and then come back enriched by this insight to an understanding of ones own life which can guide one into the future ( The Way of All the Earth, p. 53). One way to elicit images from ones feelings is rooted in experience, for, if we dont experience it ourselves, we cannot speak of it. The ultimate experience shared by all of humanity is the problem of death expressed in the questions of
34 Ultimate Concern. Passing over to othe rs means finding within yourself something corresponding to what you see in another. It lead s to the general discovery that you have within yourself everything that exists in every othe r man, for example the questions of ultimate concern. The other half of the process, neverthe less, the coming back to ones own life and ones own way of life, indicates that th e individual returns to himself. One passes over to the life of another, but then one comes back to ones own life enriched. This coming back is a return to self (p. 56). The Great World Religions are one place many seek for the answers to the Questions of Ultimate Concern. Dunnes investigation guide d him to the founders, behind these religions, through the spiritual paths of Jesus (The Wa y), Buddha, (Middle Path), and Mohammad, (Straight Path) and their unique insights. Th rough their revelation and enlightenment many have found what they did in their holy center of stillness. That which filled the void of the emptiness they experienced within their Dept h and Ground of Being brought up the ultimate questions of concern. When one passes over to the lives of Gotama, Jesus, and Mohammad, one must finally come back to ones own life in the process of coming back, and that is finally to come back to the autobiographical standpoint itself, they share these same experiences of revelation and enlightenment (Ibid, p. xii). This convergence we are envisioning, Dunne sums up, does not involve the deliberate choice of a single standpoint. It consists rather in a mutual understanding, a going over from one standpoint to another. The peace it would lead to, accordingly, is not a tranquility of order, as in the classic definition, at least not a tranquility of order arising from the establishments of a single pers pective. It is the tranquility of an inner order, and it leads to the tranquility of an outer order (ibid, p. 129). This inner peace Dunne is referring to is contained within each of the great religions, the peace within man, which leads to
35 an outer peace, a peace among men, but by different paths, reflecting the different lives of the founders (ibid). In Dunnes opening chapter of The Way of All the Earth he postulates that, the religions of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, ha ve ceased to seem new and revealing, and men began searching once again to find about themsel ves for themselves and from themselves. He points out that in the wake of Christianity, the newest disclosures of man, and of God too, seem to be found in personal documents rather than scriptures, almost as though, personal religion and personal creeds had replaced the great religi ons and the common creeds. He discovered that there is a way of finding about man and God that seems to combine the way of religions and that of memoirs (p. 3). Dunne spoke of Gandhis expe riments with truth as one such example of personal discovery for truth within a central Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. The story of the Bhagavad Gita is embedded in the Mahabharata an epic about King Bharata and his descendents, King Pandu and his sons, including Ar juna. When Arjunas father dies, his uncle, Dhritarashtra, takes the throne and his sons try to cheat Arjuna and his four brothers out of their rightful half of the kingdom. It is to right this wrong that Arjuna finds himself on the battle field where he agonizes about whether he should be ki lling his own cousins. He finds himself engaged in a dialogue with his chariot driver; Krishna whom we later learn is really the incarnation of the all-highest deity, Vishnu Lord of Life and D eath. Arjuna agonizes because he neither wants to kill nor be killed. He is caught in a double bind because as a Kshatriya warrior his caste duty ( Karma yoga) is to fight injustice but it is also considered immoral to kill your caste/family members. So he is damned if he does and damn ed if he doesnt so to speak. Either way he surmises he accrues negative karma Krishnas task, according to Hindu lore, is to help Arjuna see the illusion of the self ( jiva ) and his true identity as Brahman or Purusa If he realizes his true identity he will realize that his true self, like all other selves, is never born and never dies then he
36 will no longer fear death, whether it is his own dy ing or taking the life of others. The essence of Krishnas teaching is that as long as Arjuna do es his duty without thought of personal gain, he will not accrue negative karma and can still achieve moksha or liberation. The lesson of this vision is that it is not he, Arjuna, that determines who lives and who dies but Vishnu, the Lord of life and death. At the end of the Gita, Arjuna is transformed and stands up ready to do his duty and fight (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics, pp.111-2). The double-bind Arjuna faced to fight injustice as a Kshatriya but forbidden to kill his caste/family members is, in Gandhis way of th inking, that which forces the mind into an allegorical mode where it can grasp the true sp iritual intent of the Gitas meaning. Gandhi believed that the power of allegory lay in seeing in the literal stories of the scripture a deeper symbolic meaning based on what he believed was profound universal religious experience and wisdom. To this end, the Bhagavad Gita for Gandhi was allegorical and was meant to be understood not literally but symbolically. Readi ng the story allegorically, Gandhi puts his argument this way, The field of battle is our ow n body. The fight is there, but the fight as it is going on within The message of the Gita is to be found in the second chapter of the Gita where Krishna speaks of the balanced state of mind. These verses show that the fight Krishna speaks of is a spiritual fight (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics, p 128). The technique of passing over, we recall is based on the process of eliciting images from ones feelings attaining insight into the images, and turning insight into a guide of life. Death is a great elicitor of evoking images from ones feelings. Dunne categorized Gandhi as someone who foun d truth not only within his Hindu faith, but in all the great religions and was involved in persistent endeavors to enforce meaning. Enforcing the meaning of scriptures is what Dunne called turning poetry into truth. Making the poetry of the religions come true in ones life ( The Way of All the Earth p. 4). Turning poetry
37 into truth requires one to begin in imagination but to end in reality. That is acting upon the moral of the story rather than acting out of the story itself. Gandhi, Dunne points out, turned poetry into truth by enforcing the meaning of the Gita and the Sermon on the Mount (ibid). At this point it may be useful to refer to Faschings understandi ng of Dunnes notion of turning poetry into truth as, symptomatic of the spiritual adventure of the post/modern world. He points out that Gandhis encounters with Theosophists and the fo llowers of Tolstoys radical Christianity awakened in him memories of his own childhood and a desire to find in the spiritual depths of the Gita parallels to the ethic of the Mount. Perh aps we can see the correlation of this idea of being awakened and Tillichs description of being grasped by an Ultimate Concern. By passing over into another religion and culture, Gandhi came back with new insight and appreciation for his own. This was true for Gandhi in relation not only to Christianity but also to other religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam. Gandhi found truth in all the great religions and that truth always drove him ba ck deeper into his own tradition (Fasching, The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima pp. 206 211). Gandhis life experiences Dunne argues, are not those experiences which are uncommo n, what is un-common is his insight into his own experience; his enlightenment. Gandhi, as well as, Dunne, would like us to believe that the way to enlightenment or revelation is not exclus ive to any one religion. Gandhi believed every man is an incarnation, an embodiment of the holy, that all embodied life is in reality an incarnation (Dunne, The Way of All the Earth p.94). If one accepts Gandhis belief that every man is an incarnation of the Holy then it should be possible for us to find a basis within ourselves for understanding this and perhaps as Dunne adds, that spirit becomes manifest in one human being after another (ibid). This idea of a holy spirit, if you will, is ak in to Tillichs Ground of Being within all humans, an incarnation of an ultimate reality. Ultimate reality, we have concluded, is found
38 within each cultures answers to the questions of ultimate concern. One example of these questions Dunne points out is from the Buddha: What is the origin of suffering? One possible answer to this question within Buddhism, con ceives the end of suffering through compassion, the abolition of the closed world of self (p. 55). That is through the doctrine of anatta, noself. Anatta in this context claims that part of the human psyche which refers to I am is an illusion. We conclude this secti on with Dunnes utilization of this doctrine of no self as a component of his passing over theory towards self-r ealization, representative of my thesis idea of the Holy found within ones Ground of Being. P assing over to other lives, Dunne postulates, is the only way I can see of achieving a state of anatta no-self. The no-self he observes, is a condition which appears to exist only in the mome nt of passing over to other lives and times. However, he continues that, when a man comes b ack to his own life and times the self, the I am, reappears. So in the last analysis the self is enhanced, not destroyed (p. 56). This is not the teaching of the Buddha, of course, but Dunnes observation based on the experience of passing over and coming back. Here is the example of Dunnes method: Step #1 Our Own Life I Am Step #2 Our withdrawal by passing over to others lives and times No self Step #3 Our Return I Am transformed The technique of passing over is based on the process of eliciting images from ones feelings, attaining insight onto the images, and tu rning insight a guide of life. What one does in passing over is try to enter sympathetically into th e feelings of another person, become receptive to the images and then come back enriched by this insight to an understanding of ones own life which can guide one into the future (p. 53). This is the method we described earlier in this
39 chapter that was employed by Gandhi in his experiments with truth through the vehicle of the Holy. Passing over, Dunne sums up, entering symp athetically into other lives and times, if we are on the right track, is the way to completeness. For whenever a man passes over to other lives or other times, he finds on coming back some neglected aspect of his own life or times which corresponds to what he sees in others. Passing over has the effect of activating these otherwise dormant aspects of himself (p. 180). In other word s from loss of self to no self to true self. True self, following Gandhis description, is an incarnation of the spirit of truth which Dunne labels Being and this thesis understands as compleme ntary to Tillichs Depth and Ground of Being, as an embodiment of the Holy. The dilemma, Dunne points out, is that at times, to care for Being can mean to ignore beings. Is there a way he wonders, of caring about Being without ignoring beings? He suggests that one might take an inductive approach to being, seeking to find Being in beings rather than in itself (p. 95). Dunnes concern is that, in his care for Being not to lose sight of particular beings. The Ground of Being, he realizes, is what all beings share, and to care genuinely for Being, is therefore to care for all particular beings; but to actually do this, he knows too, is for him a lifelong task, since it means finding the (Ground of ) Being in beings rather than in itself (p. 103). This is one possible way to overcome the est rangement of the depth and ground of our being that Tillich speaks of. According to Dunnes analysis, the implication is that the spiritual adventure is into the holiness found in other lives religions, or cultures. Therefore, the spiritual adventure for our times is the passing over to a nother into the Ground of Being and returning back enlightened with compassion, a characteris tic of the Holy. Here, Dunnes spiritual adventure overcomes the issue of Tillichs Ch risto centrism without abandoning his own individual ideas of truth. Dunnes views move Tillic hs theology of culture one step closer toward
40 an interdisciplinary scholarship within the secular university, as a basis for an academic theology, the subject of the next section. Darrell Fasching: Alienated Theology as a Model for Academic Theology According to the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, the term humanities includes, but is not limited to, those aspects which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecti ng our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life. The humanities are essential to the university education for spread ing human wisdom throughout human culture. The task is to grasp what meaning is for humans through a quest for wisdom across cultures and how important this is to all aspects of the human journey of discovery and development. By appropriating the orientation of the humanities these models offer a base for the academic study of religion. As the founding legislation of Na tional Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) states, an advanced civilization must not limit its effo rts to science and technology alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better an alysis of the present, and a better view of the future. We face an increasingly complex and in terconnected world, the NEH continues, our citizens need the broad tools that an education in the humanities provides, including: knowledge of world cultures and history, language proficiency, critical thinking and analysis. The humanities are innovative, and help us understand the social and cultural impact of advances in science and technology. Humanities scholars are using dig ital technology to generate new knowledge, enhance access to works of enduring value, and improve education ( 2008 Issue Briefs The following issue briefs were prepared for Humanities Advocacy Day 2008. National Endowment for the Humanities 2009 National Huma nities Alliance.Washington, DC ).
41 Finding spiritual wisdom in the meeting of the world religions is one task of the humanities. By engaging comparatively in th e narrative expressions of these traditions, in particular in the way they embrace the journey of life and death, through their questions of ultimate concern, we are enlightened to the spiritu al truths they reveal in seeing the world through the eyes of the other. The University does a good job at identifying the theoretical, vocational, and practical aspects of this journey however it needs to engage the journey of self with the same commitment. The purpose of educational needs ar e not just to have courses in theory and technology those that involve making a living, but insight also necessary in making a life. Fasching developed a way in which both of these aims can be met. He does this by appropriating Tillichs theology of culture and Dunnes spiritual adventure into an ethic of hospitality towards the stranger to exist under the umbrella of th e humanities, as a component of religious studies. As you may recall, there are many academics in the religious studies departments who oppose the inclusion of theology in religious studies because it blurs the line between the two studies and weakens their position as a legitimat e discipline within the secular academic community of scholars. Darrell Fasching mediates these two views by appropriating both perspectives. Faschings assessment and adva ncement of these two perspectives illuminates those aspects of which the anti-phenomenologists, such as Smart and McCutcheon, do not specifically address, that secular discourse is just one more narrative tradition of sacred discourse alongside many others and there is no neutral language of explanation (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology p169). McCutcheon reluctantly seems to admit as much in his statement that scholars in the study of religion [and] their explanations are pur ely a function of their interests and the theories they propose and apply (The Study of Religion as an Anthropology of Credibility, p. 18). However, Fasching argues the critics, who define religion to be reduced to some other root cause
42 unbeknownst to them, are doing a type of apologeti c theology in which they are defending their truth and superiority of their own sacred tradition of secular fundamentalism against the false, inferior views of other traditions ( The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima p.5). A type of theology that these critics have emphatically dismissed. Rather, each narrative will have to stretch its vocabulary to understand and include the stranger in his or her world (Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theo logy, p.164). Fasching proposes to do academic theology as a narrative approach to comparative religious ethics, b est classified as a decentered or an alienated theology. He is in agreement that confessional and apologetic theology, Christian or otherwise, is not an academic discipline as understood in the contemporary university, but McCutcheon, as well as, Smart are incorrect to s uggest that theology cannot be academic. The role of the theologian of culture, operating as an interdisciplinary sc holar within the secular university, sets about this task in a manner that sets him or her apart from the confessional theologian. Apologetic theology seeks to defend the truth and superiority of ones own tradition against the false, inferior, and alien views of other traditions. Alienated theology is done as if one were a stranger too ones ow n narrative tradition, seeing and critiquing ones own tradition from the vantage point of the other s narrative tradition (p. 167). In this way, Fasching is able to reconcile Tillichs theology of culture, as a creative interpretation of meaning and existence with Dunnes spiritual theology of walking in the way of mutual understanding, through an expansion of unders tanding how these narratives are cultural expressions and symbols of what it means to be human, expressed in diverse stories of hospitality to the stranger. Through Gandhis example, proposed in the previous section regarding his transformation of allegorical narrative, it may be deduced that two of the primary and most pervasive ways religious traditions shape behavior are through stor ytelling and spiritual practices. Storytelling shapes the ethical imagination of its members, especially through stories of heroes
43 and saints. However, they are not only deeply affected and shaped by their indigenous stories but also the stories of others. The narratives of the wo rlds great religions offer a way that transforms the way we see and experience the anxiety of th e human condition of the monsters of life and death, as Tolstoy phrased it. Narratives of hospita lity in the worlds great religions de-center our ethnocentrism and foster an awareness of our interdependence our unity in diversity. By achieving an ecological balance between these di verse narrative contexts, accepting the claims that others make upon us when our consciousness is sensitized by becoming the other, and so becomes our conscience. These and other stori es have unique ethical power, according to Fasching and deChant for they recognize the humanity of the one who does not share ones own story and cannot be defined by it the one who remains a stranger. Through such stories the sacred center is desacralized and the holy is en countered outside ones ethnocentric community in the coming of the stranger (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics p. 299). According to McCutcheon, the scholar of re ligion understands the term religion, or such rhetorical pairs as sacred/profane, as one way that certain human communities concoct cognitively and socially habitable worlds ( The Study of Religion as an Anthropology of Credibility p. 16). However, drawing on Tillich, and fo llowing the lead of Fasching, I propose a different perspective of the holy and secular as related and complementary. He identifies these two terms, sacred and holy, as antonyms where they are usually paired synonymously. In other words, contrary to McCutcheon and the like, who equate and identify the profane exclusively with the secular, I am in agreement w ith pairing the sacred with the profane and the holy with the secular. The sacred and the holy name two tendencies at war in each person and in every community. The experience of the sacred encourages us to divide the world into sacred and profane, such that we see ourselves as human and all strangers as profane and less (or less than) human (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics p. 18). However, the
44 experience of the Holy generates a human respon se to the sacred, which calls it into question by insisting that ultimate truth and reality are radi cally different than this world and its sacred powers and sacred orders. Consequently, the holy encourages doubt and questioning. The task of an ethic of the holy is not to eliminate the morality of a society, but to transform it by breaking down the divisions between the sacred and profane through narratives of hospitality to the stranger, which affirm the human dignity of precisely those who do not share ones identity and ones story (158). Therefore the task of the study of religion lies not, as Eliade suggests, in awakening the sacred beneath the profane so as to overcome the secular, but rather in discovering that the study of religion as a secular activity is itself a manifestation of another kind of religious experience the experience of the holy (Faschi ng, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology p169) The real focus of our energies as scholars in this interdisciplinary area of study is not religions but the sacred (Ibid, p.15 7). Religion must be defined in terms of the sacred and not vice-versa. What we are really stud ying is the diverse ways in which a sense of the sacred is manifested and responded to in va rious cultural activities (in science, politics, economics, art, religions, etc.) and how that aff ects belief and action in every sphere of human activity (Ibid, 158). In the end, if religious studi es must be conceived in terms of the sacred, manifest in a sacred way of life, theology must be reconceived in terms of the holy, manifest as an experienced inner demand for self-transcendenc e that calls for alternative ways of life; Theos or God is only one name for such experiences (159). Figure 1.1, entitled, Characteristics of the Sacred and the Holy, outlines some of the key features of these opposing patterns of religious ways of life, according to Faschings thesis. (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics p.18)
45 Sacred Society Center (Ideal of identity) within itself Sameness = measure of the human Hostility to the stranger Sacred is opposed to profane Sacralization of the finite cosmos/society, expressed in a sacred way of life Cosmos writ small (sacred order) Answers are absolute: answers imprison us in the finite God/the holy in the image of self/in-group Honor (morality defined by social status) Hierarchical Morality Is=Ought The way things are is the way they ought to be This-wordly Holy Community Center outside of itself in the stranger Difference = measure of the human Hospitality to the stranger Holy and secular are complementary Desacralization or secularization of the finite in the name of the infinite only the holy is holy: the world is not profane but secular Human writ large (dignity and justice) Questioning and doubt as measure of faith:we always have more questions than answers, and this keeps us open to the infinite Created in the image of a God/the Holy without image Dignity (ethics of equality and Interdependence) Equality and interdependence Ethics Is vs. Ought The way things ought to be calls into question the way things are Otherwordly
46 The distinction they are making between the sacred and the holy is typological. That is, it is a model to be used to help us sort out human experiences and behaviors. This leads to the discovery of what it is to be human. One obligation of the public university is to study those human experiences that are both, holy and sacred in order to understand ethnocentrism and its cure. The emphasis of my thesis is on those human experiences that are related to the Holy. This relationship is based within a humanities curri culum and emphasized th rough an alienated theology under the religious studies banner. A f undamental axiom of alienated theology is that the sacred closes me off from the stranger wher eas the holy opens me to the stranger. The experience of the sacred defines the stranger as pr ofane and so dehumanizes him or her. That is, the category humanity is defined to include all who are the same and exclude all who are different. By contrast the holy pluralizes and seculari zes to embrace difference as a humanizing experience that finds expression in welcoming th e stranger (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology,pp. 158 -159). To be human is to be capable of migrating into new worlds in time, space, and imagination. Our ope nness to the infinite requires openness to other worlds (both actual and possible). In this sense, the claims of the holy as a type of human experience demand from us a hospitality to the stra ngers and their strange worlds (Ibid, p.161). Theology, academically conceived as alienate d theology, requires engagement with the plurality of human experiences. The alienation re quired to do academic theology converges with the phenomenological attitude required by religious studies (for what is bracketing but a form of estrangement from oneself to enter the world of a stranger) (Fasching, Religious Studies and the Alienation of Theology pp. 167 168). In 1965, according to E.E. Evans-Pritchard who published the highly influential work Theories of Primitive Religion, phenomenology is "arguably
47 the most influential approach to the study of religion in the twentieth century." The phenomenological attitude that is central to religio us studies simply makes explicit what is unique to the intentionality of the humanities in ge neral (Ibid, p. 169). That is a descriptive methodology, because it wants to be attentive to how things appear, it wants to let things speak for themselves. What the phenomenological a ttitude calls for is passing over to see the world through the eyes of the stranger. This requires th e experience of alienation, of being a stranger even to oneself. For when we become strangers to ourselves, we experience a new vulnerability and (if we do not panic and retreat into some sa cred and unquestionable world) a new openness to the other, other persons, other ideas, other cultures, and other ways of life (ibid, pp. 165 168). To engage in religious studies, including theology of culture, within the context of the humanities requires that I desacralize all sacred traditions, beginning with my own, through surrender to the critical questions of the schol ar who seeks to understand. The purpose of these questions is not to profane these traditions but to secularize them (Ibid, p. 169). The tradition of hospitality, an ethic of welcoming the stranger, requires a selfless compassion, a compassion or empathy that is a way of conceiving ones own concrete standpoint that both acknowledges its particularly and yet requires one to pass over the bo undary into the life, religion, and culture of the stranger and see ones tradition through the ey es of the other, transformed by new insight. Doing so opens me to what is holy in each (ibid). From this point of view, the inner dema nd for rationality (i.e., that our doubts and questions be pursued and answered) in every field of human inquiry is in itself a form of religious experience, an opening of the self to the infinite (Ibid, p. 160). The relationship between doubt and the stranger is that they both challenge one to consider a perspective apart from ones own sacred way of life. Our answers are always fin ite but there are always more questions than answers, this is what keeps us open to the infin ite. To follow the questions is to go beyond (the
48 literal meaning of transcendence) the answer s and transcend the sacred worldview they presuppose (Ibid, pp. 159-160). This does not re quire making any metaphysical claims about the Infinite. But it does require an ontological claim, namely, that that our humanity is constituted by our openness to infinite possibilities that carry us beyond the horizon of possibilities culturally defined by the sacred order of our own particular time and place (Ibid, pp. 160-1). Alienated theology forbids me the option of integrating the other into my world-view. It demands that I respect the other as a transcending presence within my world. I must welcome the stranger precisely in his or her otherness not as a potential candidate for sameness. For only as I am open to the otherness of the stranger am I open to the otherness of transcendence(Fasching, The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima p. 159). Finally, Fasching argues that a university in which the humanities in their normative modes of reflection are viewed as marginal is a university educating a generation of amoral technological barbarians those whose knowledge of scientific facts and technological skills are for sale to the highest bidder without qualms since all normative views are purely subjective (ibid, p. 157). That is all scholars must rec ognize that they are preaching their own brand of theology, secular or otherwise. Smarts, McCu tcheons, and Strenskis confessioanlism is a failure of objectivity and defines their idea of the sacred. Through Faschings eyes, he sees, there is no future for religious studies as an objective discipline without the inclusion of an academic theology (p.161). There must be an acad emic mode of doing theology if religious studies is to maintain its integrity as an objective scholarly area of study. Just as religious studies is about more than religions, so theology is about more than God (p. 159). As Maurice N. Eisendrath reminds us in, Gods Angry Men, God is dead What are these churches if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God? Nietzsche asked. But much of Western humanism is dead too. Men do not wander under the silent stars, listen to the wind, learn to know themselves,
49 question, Where am I going? Why am I here? They leave aside the mysteries of contingency and transitoriness, for the certainties of research, production, consumption. So that it is nearly possible to say: man is dead What are these bu ildings, these tunnels, these roads, if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of man?(p.62). T he humanities have a normative responsibility a responsibility not only to understand sympathetically but also to both evaluate critically and be audacious in their defense of our common huma nity in its openness to self-transcendence. Through the humanities, we attempt to distill from such human experiences, in every religion and culture, the wisdom to live more humanly. A cademic theology, as I have been proposing it reflects such an understanding, an understanding of theology not as a confessional discipline but a professional discipline. Its task is not confessing the truth as seen through one narrative tradition but rather professing the wisdom that can be discerned through a comparative study of the great narrative traditions in their normative mo ments of self-transcendence (Fasching, The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima p. 170). Agreeing with Fasching, I argue that an a lienated theology is one possible vehicle through which a normative analysis of religious experience and behavior can emerge and inspire students to live a life that facilitates a cross-cultu ral and interreligious ethic of human dignity. The task of an ethic of the holy is to encourage, di scover, and transform those divisions within society through narratives of hospitality to the stranger th rough stories of spirituality that will impact students to live a life that facilitates a cross cultural and interreligious way within the secular institutions of American higher education. A place where the basic human experiences that remind man that he is not a machine, and not merely a temporary cog in a technological civilization, that are not fostered within the university (Eisendrath, Gods Angry Men p. 62).
50 Chapter Four Conclusion: Theology, Spirituality and the Humanities Sam Gill declared that there is an eterna l marriage weaved betw een theology and the academics in the Western University curriculu m. He explains the situation in his essay, Embodied Theology: These positions are finally not separable because most basic premises of the Western academy are interwoven with fund amental beliefs and understandings of realitytheologiesthat are continuous with the more e xplicit theologies of Western religious traditions. Such theologies inform the very architecture, furniture, pedagogy, and research methodology of the Western academy, which in turn, determin e to a degree far greater that we commonly acknowledge the way we construct academic business (p. 91). Gill, seems to be suggesting that implicitly or explicitly, all disciplines approach th eir subject within the context and in dialogue with the sacred/holy, or God-it is steeped d eep within the DNA of the Western academia. The necessity for continually utilizing the name God Tillich has stated lies in the fact that our being has depths which naturalism (science), whethe r evolutionary, mechanistic, dialectical or humanistic, cannot or will not recognize( Shaking of the Foundations p.181). There is an ongoing battle within the academy a nd the casualties are the heart and soul of the human experience. Finding spiritual wisdom in the m eeting of the world religions is one task of the humanities. Being a human is the apriori of all disciplines and the discovery of a university without the humanities in Faschings words is brain dead soulless and impoveri shed. The task of the great world religions is to accept the challenge to find a way to transform the human biological story from birth to death, into a meaningful spiritual journe y whose destination transcends physical death and the loss of self. Through the wisdom of the worlds religions one gains the insight to transform the
51 personal life journey that began with what Shakespeare co ined a tale told by an idiot into a story of meaning. Put another way, spiritual wisdom transf orms the story of life from one of loss to one of completion. Humanities are the heart of liberal education. The university has an obligation to understand both the intended and unintended consequences of human behavior. For example, the celebration of religious holidays. One intended c onsequence of Christmas we could say is the celebration of the birth of a savior. However, an unintended consequence of Christmas is the economic impact that the holiday brings through the celebrati on by exchanging of gifts. McCutcheon, Strenski, and Smart-types define religion by those consequen ces of an unintended nature, unfortunately at the expense of the focus on the intended consequences wi thin the humanities with their focus on meaning. Strenski goes so far as to say, I do not belie ve there is such a thing as a universal human religious community at least at this stage of the human project (Why Theology Wont Work, p. 42). Perhaps, sadly he is unaware that he is part and parcel of the universal human religious community. All of life is first and foremost a universal human religious project in which all play a part. As Walt Whitman said, The powerful play of life goes on and you may contribute a verse. When one welcomes the stranger one has accepted others differe nces and are excited about the potential of what each has to offer, and also what one can become. Whenever a man has looked at his world, he has found himself in it as a part of it. But he also has al so realized that he is a stranger in the world of objects, unable to penetrate it beyond a certain leve l of scientific analysis. And then he has become aware of the fact that he himself is the door to the deeper levels of reality that in his own existence he has the only possible approach to existence itself. (Tillich, Systematic Theology pp. 62-63). The immediate experience of ones own existing reveals something of the nature of existence generally. Whoever has penetrated into the nature of his or her own finitude can find the traces of finitude in everything that exists. And he can ask the question implied in his finitude as the question implied in finitude universally (Ibid p. 63). This is the place my thesis has defined as the holy.
52 In the Buddhist tradition, the sp iritual master gives his students a koan. A koan is a spiritual puzzle that has no rational answer. He needs to meditate upon it and solve it. One example of a koan from Hakuin Ekaku is what is the s ound of one hand clapping? Students would meditate this comeback with answers that are usually logical which the master would send him away and have him return with another answ er several times until the student is exhausted. By pursuing this single koan he comes to a point where his mind is as if dead and his will as if extinguished. All thoughts vanish and in his bosom burns hot anxiety (Fasching and deChant, Comparative Religious Ethics, p 63). But then as Hakuin says, suddenly it occurs that with the koan both body and mind break. There is letting go of ego This is called rebirth in the pure land (Ibid). This is termed seeing ones own nature Everything depends on le tting go not having your ego try and figure everything out. Perhaps, all of life is a type of koan that is a spiritual puzzle that has no rational answer but needs to be solv ed. Carl Jung believed that one would be dragged through life if he or she refused to transcend th eir ego. However, whether one recognized this interior prompting or not, the journey of life toward death is not going to cease moving from one stage to the next stage. The prescription toward s recovering from being dragged through life, or even lives, is that there must be both a breaki ng of both body and mind so as to transcend and go beyond. This is what the Zen termed seeing ones own nature, what we have called the holy. Darrell Faschings hospitality to the stranger, Paul Tillichs theology of culture, and John Dunnes spiritual adventure represent ways of transcending oneself through the holy. Participating in active empathy is one possible way this thesis sees as a manifestation of the holy. This is important in terms of facing the other w ithin and this is then reflected outwardly to the other without and this is the basis for recogni zing the ground of being and grace, an alienated theology and hospitality to the stranger, and compa ssion within the spiritual adventure. This leads to a gateway on the road through which a ll mankind can discover and apply universal compassion. We refer to Heideggers advice who said that even before love we must care for
53 first. For what we care about is that which will entice us to act. The question as it applies to this thesis is whether the secular institutions of Americ an higher education should care for students questions of meaning, purpose, wisdom, and human destiny. I believe it should. The Beginning
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