A Dome of Many Colors: Studies in Religious Pluralism, Identity, and Unity

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Arvind Sharma, Kathleen M. Dugan
A&C Black, Jun 1, 1999 - Religion - 201 pages
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The Parliament of World's Religions met in Chicago in 1993 to commemorate the centennial of the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. One of the organizing themes of this conference, attended by around 10,000 delegates, was religious pluralism the focus of this volume. Here, then, is a collection of essays from a conference that meets not every year or even every ten years but once in a century. All the of contributors to the volume are well-established scholars who are known for their expertise in world religions: Julia Ching, R. Panikkar, Harvey Cox, Arvind Sharma, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Masao Abe, Clara Sue Kidwell, Samuel Ruiz, Paul F. Knitter, Donald W. Mitchell, Jeffrey Carlson, and Robert J. Schreiter. While many books on religious pluralism focus on the plurality of religious presences in North America, this volume employs the term religious pluralism to include the plurality of perspectives present within religious traditions as well. It thus understands the term both in an internal and external sense. In addition, it extends the discussion of religious pluralism beyond North America to other theaters of the world, to Asia and Latin America. CONTENTS 1. Living in Two Worlds: A Personal Appraisal 2. Religious Identity and Pluralism 3. "Our Religions" in a Religiously Plural World 4. Civilizing the Choctaws: Cultural Expectations and Realities 5. Religious Conflict and Christianity 6. Religion and Globality: Can Interreligious Dialogue be Globally Responsible? 7. Two Types of Unity and Religious Pluralism 8. Religion and Globality 9. A Call to Action Arvind Sharma is Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University in Montreal. Kathleen Dugan is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of San Diego.

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Let me inform the editors that I am a novice in theology or philosophy. However, after going through some sections of various books by Arvind sharma and edited books, I feel expressing my views (may be not so profound). Some of the lacunae missing in this edited book are:
1. Interdisciplinary approach missing:
Most of the articles deal either theologically or philosophical perspective. To understand any phenomenon, one has to have broad view before particular view. But the views are though lucid and clarify certain aspects lacks broader view. May I have a liberty to suggest that you may adopt an inter-disciplinary approach. This means taking other perspectives as well such psychology, sociology, psychology, politics, economics, etc..
2. Intra- and Inter- religious discourse:
Current scenario of global situation, one notices more conflicts concerning intra-religious groups such as Northern Ireland and IS in Iraq and Syria, earlier between Iraq and Iran. These are sectarian conflicts. Hence, first dialogue should be intra-religion before moving on to comparative study of inter-religious dialogue. Besides, these also highlights the necessity of suggestion above about interdisciplinary approach. A few of them emerged out of politico-economic issues.
3. Derida's approach of de-construction process:
In order to appreciate the current issues, one has to trace the origin of both schism within a religion and between religions. Take the first case, many so-called major religions have many splintered group. Some developed into a major sect such Protestant and Catholic in Christianity, Sunni and Shia in Islam, Mahayana and Hinayana in Buddhism. Some minor differences led to small groups within the major religion. They may be fundamentalist or orthodox or atheist. These remained a small segment, but some time leading to disruption of the social fabric. Another conflict is between different religions. History has ample evidence of this between Islam and Christianity, Islam and Hinduism (initially led to geographic division, now within a geographic area). The analysis requires combination of de-construction process plus interdisciplinary approach.
4. Matrix of concepts and operating systems:
Whenever one try to study either intra- or inter- religions, it is better to identify the main concepts enumerated in religions or sects, then find the similarity or differences in any of the concept. To give your own article in the present volume by Masao Abe shows the different meaning of time and space between Buddhism and others. Or Arvind Sharma's explanation of secularism (movement from intra to inter-religion interpretation. These will be more evident if one makes a matrix of concept vis-a-vis religions, and matrix of each concept and its operationalization in a society. This will enlighten how a society internalizes the concepts to their daily activities - social, political or economic spheres.
Finally, can I mention that Arvind Sharma need not apology for plagiarizing 'write locally, think globally'. This precept is very common in both politics and economics. Most of the colonies erstwhile empires did, and most of the MNC do now.
I am very grateful to Arvind Sharma for his writings has cleared some of my doubts though some remains enigma yet. Above observations is not so much comment on the writing, but expecting clarity for myself. Current publication does contribute to more understanding of underlying divergence of views.


A Personal Appraisal
Religious Identity and Pluralism
Our Religions in a Religiously Plural World
Cultural Expectations
Religious Conflict
Can Interreligious Dialogue
Two Types of Unity and Religious Pluralism
Religion Globality and Universality
Call to Action

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Arvind Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University, Canada. Kathleen Dugan is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of San Diego

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