Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies presents theologian Paul Knitter in talk entitled "Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian: The Challenge of Global Religious Citizenship"



Image: Paul KnitterGlobalization needs 'global citizens' to thrive. That is, citizens who are respectful and cooperative with individuals from other nations.

But must individuals also be 'global religious citizens?' Are we obliged to learn about, affirm the value of, and cooperate with religions other than our own?

Those questions will be at the heart of a Fairfield University lecture delivered by author Paul F. Knitter, Ph.D., a leading theologian of religious pluralism, on Monday, September 20 at 8 p.m. His talk is entitled, "Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian: The Challenge of Global Religious Citizenship," based on his book of the same name, published by Oneworld Publications in 2009.

Sponsored by Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies, the event coincides with Fairfield's Global Citizenship initiative: As the complexities of globalization become apparent, the University has begun to explicitly orient itself toward the education and formation of students to be global citizens. The talk, free and open to the public, will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

"Trying to be a "global citizen" leads to religious challenges and opportunities," said Dr. Knitter, the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at the Union Theological Seminary, "the need not only to know about and respect other religions but also the opportunity to learn from them and deepen one's own religious identity.

"Christians, for instance, are exploring the possibility of 'dual religious belonging,' of being both a Christian and a Buddhist," he added.

Dr. Knitter, author of the book, "No Other Name?" (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1985), will examine whether 'dual religious belonging' is possible and whether it is enriching or even dangerous. The religions of the world, like the nations of the world, are being called to form a "community of communities," he noted. Whether such a global community is possible if one nation - or one religion - claims superiority over all the others remains to be seen.

In 2007, Dr. Knitter joined the faculty of the Union Theological Seminary, located in New York City. He is Professor Emeritus of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he taught for 28 years before coming to Union.

His journey into interfaith dialogue began in 1964 when he was a seminarian in Rome and experienced the Second Vatican Council firsthand, at a time when the Roman Catholic Church declared its new attitude towards other religions. He serves on the Board of the International, Interreligious Peace Council, formed after the 1993 World Parliament of Religions to promote interreligious peace-making projects.

For several decades, he has been exploring how the religious communities of the world can cooperate in promoting human and ecological well-being. He is the author of "One Earth Many Religions: Multifaith Dialogue and Global Responsibility" (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1995); "Jesus and the Other Names: Christian Mission and Global Responsibility" (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1996); and "Introducing Theologies of Religions" (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2002). Dr. Knitter co-edited (with John Hick), "The Myth of Religious Superiority" (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2005).

For more information, please call the Center for Catholic Studies at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415 or visit fairfield.edu/cs/.

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

Posted on August 23, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 25