KEYNOTE LECTURES 2021
RELIGION AND CHANGE
For some people, religions are the only stable element in a world of permanent change as they relate them to which is transcendent to this world and therefore untouched by changes. But is this really true? Is the transcendent really beyond and without change? And are the religions, even if they relate people to an unchangeable transcendence, then also unchangeable or not rather themselves subject to changes as everybody else in the world? In most religions, traditions with their practices and holy texts are very important and faithfulness to these traditions seem to give the religions the character of unchangeability. But at the same time, all religions have a rich practice of interpretation of the texts in holy books and ritual practices and also of the activities within the religious practices. Often is the emphasis on traditions or on the original meaning of texts the basis for change. How can these hermeneutical processes be described and how are they related to changes within religions and changes in society caused by religions?
The Münster conference of the European Academy of Religion will discuss these and many more questions which are raised when studying the relation of religion and change. Besides the many panels and discussions on all possible topics and problems in the diverse field of the study of religion and research on religion within the EuARe conference, some core lectures and discussions will be dedicated to the discussion of the relation of religion and change. These lectures and discussions will contribute to a clarification of this relation into two main directions. One direction will be the change and transformation of religion itself; another direction will be the changes and transformations caused by religion.
Within these two directions, a whole bouquet of diverse issues and questions will be discussed.
1. Change and transformation of Religion (in the history of religion). Has there been a development of religion within history? Do religions stand for a solid and substantial metaphysical order of natural and moral reality amidst a world which is permanently changing, or are religions themselves in a process of inner (essential) change, reform and transformation? How do religions integrate the concepts of change, reform and transformation in their own doctrines? How is religion related to history and change? How does the differentiation of religious symbol systems proceed?
2. Evolution and Religion. In what sense do we have to understand religion as being part of the evolution of humankind (of evolutionary history)? What follows from such an analysis of the origin of religion? What kind of critique of religion emerges from this understanding (for example, a genetic critique of religion)? What is the significance of such a critique for a contemporary concept of religion?
3. Hermeneutics and Religious Traditions, Texts and Practices. Is Interpretation the key to understand the relation between religion and change? Is there a specific hermeneutics in respect to the holy texts and practices of religions? What models of relating the holy texts and practices of a religious tradition to the present day and its challenges in diverse contexts are available and used in the religions?
4. Dynamics of change. How can religions contribute to transformations, development and progress in societies? Does religion restrain or promote transformation, development and progress in societies? Can and do religions include a dynamic of their own transformation and development?
Hans Peter Grosshans, President of the European Academy of Religion
Complimenting the Divine: the Multi-Religious as the Poetics of Resilience
Azza Karam (Religions for Peace)
Dr. Azza Karam is Secretary General of Religions for Peace International and Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Previously, she served as a senior advisor on culture at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); coordinator/chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; senior policy research advisor at the United Nations Development Program in the Regional Bureau for Arab States; and president of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations. She is the lead facilitator for the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy, building on a legacy of serving as a trainer cum facilitator of intercultural leadership and management in the Arab region as well as Europe and Central Asia.
Sameness though claiming adaptation or change by pretending continuity? A psychology of religion perspective
Vassilis Saroglou (UCLouvain)
Vassilis Saroglou is professor of psychology of religion, personality psychology, and cross-cultural psychology at the Université Catholique de Louvain. He has studied theology (Univ. of Athens), religious sciences, philosophy, and psychology (UCLouvain), and has been visiting scholar in the US (William & Mary-Virginia, Arizona State Univ., New York Univ.). He has extensive research and publications on the psychology of religion, spirituality, fundamentalism, and atheism and their respective cognitive, emotional, moral, social, and cultural characteristics. He has served as Associate Editor and Co-Editor of the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, President of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion, and (vice)-President of the International Academy of Religious Sciences. For his work, he received several scientific distinctions from American and International/European associations (APA, APS, SPSP, IAPR, EAPP) and in 2020 he was awarded the Quinquennial Solvay Excellence Prize in human and social sciences (FNRS, Belgium). He most recently published The Psychology of Religion (Routledge, 2021).
The Study of Religion and the Spirit of Orientalism: Cultural Transformations and Scholarly Shifts
Guy Stroumsa (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Guy G. Stroumsa is Martin Buber Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Emeritus of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, and Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. He is a Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich. He received the Humboldt Research Award, the Leopold-Lucas Prize, and the Rothschild Prize. He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite.
Author of eighteen books and one hundred and fifty articles, editor or co-editor of twenty-one books. Among his recent publications: The Idea of Semitic Monotheism: The Rise and Fall of a Scholarly Myth (Oxford, 2021); The Crucible of Religion in Late Antiquity (Tübingen, 2021); Religion as Intellectual Challenge in the Long Twentieth Century (Tübingen, 2021); Religions d’Abraham: histoires croisées (Geneva, 2017), The Scriptural Universe of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, Mass, 2016), The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2015), A New Science: the Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason (Cambridge, Mass., 2010), and The End of Sacrifice: Religious Transformations of Late Antiquity (Chicago, 2009; paperback 2012; Original French edition, 2005; also Italian, German and Hebrew translations).
Tradition, traditionalism and culture wars
Rowan Williams (University of Cambridge)
Rowan Williams has recently retired as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and was previously Archbishop of Canterbury. Prior to that, he taught theology in Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Yale, and has written widely in theology, spirituality and contemporary issues. His original research focus was on Russian religious thought.
His most recent works include: Justice and Love: A Philosophical Dialogue (with Mary Zournazi), and Looking East in Winter.
Reading the Signs of the Times: Theology and the Question of Progress
Judith Wolfe (University of St. Andrews)
Judith Wolfe is Professor of Philosophical Theology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and is a highly sought after speaker, teacher, and writer. She directs an international research network entitled 'Widening Horizons in Philosophical Theology', and an interdisciplinary research project on psychological, theological and philosophical approaches to aesthetic and religious perception.
Judith's past publications include the Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought (ed. with J. Rasmussen and J. Zachhuber, OUP, 2017), C. S. Lewis and His Circle (ed. with R. White and B. Wolfe, OUP, 2015), Heidegger and his Theology (T&T Clark, 2014), and Heidegger’s Eschatology (OUP, 2013). She serves as a Senior Editor of the St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology and as co-editor of the three-volume Oxford History of Modern German Theology. With OUP, she is also publishing a monograph is on eschatology and modern European thought, and in Cambridge, she is delivering the 2022 Hulsean Lectures on the theological imagination.