Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, to deliver Fairfield University's 2010 Bellarmine Lecture


 

Image: Patrick RyanOn Wednesday, February 10 at 8 p.m., Fairfield University will host an accomplished scholar of comparative religion and Islamic studies who will explore the strikingly divergent ways Muslims understand the relationship between the Qur'an and culture.

There are at least three major perspectives Muslims have of the Word of God, the Qur'an: as counter-cultural, as culture-affirming and as integrating culture with the self-disclosure of God, according to Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University.

Fr. Ryan, a Jesuit for 52 years who has lived and worked with Muslims for many of those years, will discuss these different interpretations when he delivers Fairfield University's 2010 Bellarmine Lecture: "The Qur'an and Culture: Conflicting Models of a Relationship."

"Too much of our attention in non-Muslim societies is fixated on the counter-cultural understanding of the Quranic message," he noted.

Sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies, the event, free and open to the public, will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

Fr. Ryan, a native New Yorker, entered the Society of Jesus in 1957. Following his ordination to the priesthood, he earned a Ph.D. in the history of religion (with a specialization in Arabic and Islamic Studies) from Harvard University, where his mentor was the famous Canadian scholar of Islam, Wilfred Cantwell Smith. Fr. Ryan focused part of his studies on the history of Africa's Yoruba people - about half are Christians and half are Muslims. They are a community he befriended while working as a high school teacher in Nigeria.  

For about half of his life as a Jesuit priest, he has served in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Ghana. He had faculty and administrative appointments at the University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Hekima College in Kenya, and Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja, Nigeria.

Fr. Ryan, who earned a bachelor's degree in English from Fordham in 1963, has held numerous positions at the Jesuit university. He served as Fordham's vice president for University mission and ministry until 2009; held the Loyola Chair in the Humanities from 1996 to 1998; and taught Middle East Studies from 1983 to 1986.

Fr. Ryan was installed as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society last year, succeeding the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. "[I] have increasingly centered on what I call the 'trialogue' of Judaism, Christianity and Islam," Fr. Ryan told Fordham's newspaper, 'The Ram,' when asked what he hopes to accomplish in his new role. "That will be the focus of my work in the McGinley chair, and I am hoping we may be able at Fordham to provide a place here in the capital of the world where Jews, Christians and Muslims can engage in intellectual exchange."

For more information on the Bellarmine Lecture and other events, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cs/cs_lectures.html or contact the Center for Catholic Studies administrator coordinator at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 15, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 172