A Hindu-Christian Conversation 1

Cambridge, MA. As readers of this blog know, I am quite interested in interreligious dialogue, and in learning from Hindu traditions. I have been blessed with many Hindu friends over the years, and many of these have also challenged me and raised difficult questions that were good for me to answer. Well, now is a chance for a bit of on-line dialogue, with a new Hindu friend. One person who has commented occasionally on my posts has been simply MMK — but through off-line emails he and I have had some great conversations. It occurred to me that as a kind of experiment, we could share some of our dialogue with you. So let us introduce ourselves.

     You know me already, I hope — Catholic, Jesuit, priest, Harvard professor. My partner in dialogue is Sri Murali Manohar. He is a Hindu in the USA, and like many of his generation in their 30s and 40s, is an engineer who has more than a passing interest in religion and the dialogue among religions. But I now turn things over to Mr. Manohar, to introduce himself:

Advertisement

     “My interest in dialogue is shaped by many factors - my personal background, one shaped by a religious family and a technical education, my witness to the 'religious others' characterization of aspects of Hinduism - positive and negative, my reception and response to academic scholarship of traditions, and questions about theological implications of pluralism and dialogue.

     “I seek to gain an understanding of dialogue, with concerns that are distinct from the Christian concerns and presentation of dialogue – a view of dialogue that is usually framed by Christians, where the ground rules preserve a non-negotiable place for Christ, where the emphasis significantly privileges texts, textual comparison and Christian doctrinal matter. By contrast, much of Hinduism is embodied in its domestic, oral, performative, artistic and visual representations - in addition to texts.

     “I also seek to understand the ultimate individual value of dialogue beyond its important and practical value of social goodwill. My conversations with Prof. Clooney start with these important questions that not merely theoretical, but of the sort that one encounters in very real, reflective, jarring, and comical ways in a country like India, as well as among Hindu and Christian friends in the USA.”

     This blog is the introduction, and the next will be a post by Mr. Manohar. In turn, I will respond to him, and then in the fourth, possibly final post, he will respond again to me.

     But why be a spectator only? You can help make this more interesting by adding your comments as we go along — both what you think of what we write, and the mention of issues you would like us to take up. More soon!

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 7 months ago
I would be interested to see a focus on the experiential (sadhana or practice) as opposed to the merely theoretical. Looking forward to it.
8 years 7 months ago
One of the more powerful arguments against theism is the argument from multiple belief. Perhaps Clooney and Manohar could explain why the unshakeable faith of a billion people (on either side) does not invalidate their particular claims to truth.
8 years 7 months ago
An useless effort
Christianity starts the talk of ''unnegotiable'' place for ''Jesus Christ''.  Well, then what is the use of talk? Want to initiate some goody feeling among your folks that you ''reach out''.  It is a total waste of time and nothing good comes out of it.  The atrocities in the name of christ is huge.  They destroyed cultures after cultures with anti-science and anti-social activity.  Now, in Orissa, India they are targeting the innocent hindus and hurting their sentiments and killing their cultures.  Inturn they cry that hindus attack them.  I am sick of their attitude. The greatest contribution of the christians-hindu dialog would be not to talk and put the real values of christ in practice as Gandhi did.  Atleast it will give us some time to heal.
8 years 7 months ago
For somebackground on Siva's comment, comes a piece today on what has happened in Orissa in the last 13 months.  There seems to be more than a bit of tension over issues of intolerance over what had been termed "religious matters." 
_
After the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in August put India under its Watch List for the "country's failure to protect the rights of religious minorities,"  21 American lawmakers have written a letter to chief minister Naveen Patnaik expressing concern over the alleged intimidation of the Christians in the communally-divided region and the possibility of the perpetrators of the violence in last year’s anti-Christian riots in Orissa's Kandhmal district, with over 40 dead and thousands homeless.  The American lawmakers seek action against those involved in the violence.
-
Per a news agency report quoting the letter sent late last month, "Such attacks on the fundamental freedom of religion threaten not only India's reputation for religious diversity, but also the very stability of India's secular democracy.  Given the recent experience with religiously inspired terrorism, we are concerned that if Hindu extremists can act with impunity toward religious minorities in India, these extremists and their ideologies will begin to affect international security as well."
-
The timing on this blog seems more than appropirate.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018