RELIGIONS AS WAYS OF LIFE, PATHS OF STUDY, COMMUNITIES IN THE MAKING
The thesis of this essay is relatively simple, familiar, but also challenging, if we take it seriously: religion is a constitutive and inevitable part of 21st century life and not a dimension that is option, able to be put aside in a secular society. All citizens, even those interested only in their own religion or not personally committed to any religion, must know religions well, for the common good of all people in a city, state, or nation. If we are to take religions seriously, we must be committed to thinking non-reductively about life’s ‘religious dimension,’ retrieving a rich sense of being-religious, and affirming religion as a whole way of life, rather than one component among many. In particular, scholars and professors, their students, and the wider reading public need to cultivate practices of interreligious reading as a course of daily life in the 21st century. This thesis is explored with reference to the author’s reflections on religion as a way of life, the vocation of teaching and the practice of interreligious teaching, and his own study of Hindu traditions as a Christian for nearly 50 years.
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