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:
“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!