The inaugural meeting of the Inter-Religious Symposia held on Monday 14th May 2018 was well attended and invigorating. Members of Muslim, Jewish and Christian persuasions with expertise on a variety of academic disciplines spoke openly with authority and passion as the conversation developed.
The meeting opened with a welcome from the Chair, and the following points to situate the gathering:
- ‘Interfaith’ activity has not progressed beyond a basic level of discourse.
- Hence, there is a provocation for academics of religions to consider together, a wider range of methodologies applied in the shared critique of texts, narratives, and religious structures.
- With the need to find acceptable strategies for communicating the substance of these discussions widely.
The discussions on the agenda questions – asking if a more critical approach to dialogue is needed – made reference to scriptural reasoning, hermeneutics, scholasticism, dialectics, historicism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism that also drew upon personal experiences and critical observations.
It was further agreed that members of the IRS would speak both in their personal capacities and accurately present the variety of positions of their respective religious traditions. A question was raised regarding the use of “Abrahamic faiths” in an IRS document. It was explained that this was not intended to exclude academics of other religions from membership, but was employed to signify a group where differences are more often clouded by similarities, and as a sensible first step towards establishing the critical role of the IRS.
At the end of the session, the format of future gatherings was discussed at length.
The following are the outcomes of the inaugural gathering:
Aims of IRS:
– To develop an overall understanding of other religious traditions.
– Appreciate similarities, differences and differences within apparent similarities in concepts, ethos, and purpose.
– To critically engage with one’s own religious tradition.
– Share the plurality of positions within one’s religious tradition together with methodological analyses on the chosen topics.
Frequency of Meetings & Dates:
Three times a year coinciding with term times. Tentative dates for the next three symposia are as follows:
15th Oct 2018
11th February 2019
17th June 2019
Theme for the Next Three Meetings:
The Perception of the ‘Other’: Sources of Contention from Scripture and Tradition.
1. Muslim Perceptions of Jews and Christians (symposium 1: 15th Oct 2018).
2. Christian Perceptions of Muslims and Jews (symposium 2: 11th February 2019).
3. Jewish Perceptions of Muslims and Christians (symposium 3: 17th June 2019).
Format of Each Meeting for the Next Three Symposia:
Presentations of two papers (one on each ‘other’) with chaired-discussions after each.
Output of Every Meeting:
At the end of each meeting, video record three IRS members of different religious traditions in discussion together giving an overview of the symposium, which subsequently will be converted into a podcast.
Find out more about Inter-Religious Symposia here.