Journal of Ecumenical Studies - Volume 51, Number 1 (Winter 2016)

The Interfaith Movement in a Liminal Age: The Institutionalization of a Movement
Nathan R. Kollar

This essay confronts current questions within the interfaith movement: What is it? Does it have a clear purpose? What is its role within our current liminal culture? How do we articulate the answers to these questions in order to gain a place in the academy, establish an interfaith atmosphere in the classroom, and gain funds to achieve its mission? The questions, in turn, are answered by providing descriptions of the diverse ways “interfaith” is used in public discourse in an age of continual uncertainty and fracturing. These descriptions are then placed within the practical multireligious world of teaching, fundraising, and professionalization of an academic discipline.

Pluralistic Inclusivism and Christian-Muslim Dialogue: The Challenge of Moving beyond Polite Discussion toward Reconciliation and Peace
Todd Johanson

Christian-Muslim relations have a complex and often negative history, and in the postmodern, postcolonial, globalizing, and ever-increasingly multifaith world of today, relations between the world’s two largest faiths are arguably more important than ever. While significant progress has been made recently in Christian-Muslim dialogue, there is still much work to be done to move that dialogue forward significantly toward reconciliation and peace. This essay explores the possibilities that contemporary reflection on inclusivism, pluralism, reconciliation, and peacebuilding can bring to the table in advancing the prospects for understanding, reconciliation, and peacemaking in Christian-Muslim dialogue. It argues that a form of pluralistic inclusivism as practiced in dialogue in combination with insights from recent peacebuilding efforts is the best way to move the dialogue forward.

Warrants for Reconstruction: Christian Hegemony, White Supremacy
Jeannine Hill Fletcher

Discussions of religious pluralism have yet to consider how theologies of superiority might be linked with racist ideologies. Tracing historical precedents of Christian theologies of religious supremacy that inform racist practices and legislation, this essay argues the need for reconstructing Christian theologies of religious difference with anti-racist and anti-supremacist tools.

Descandalizing Multiple Religious Identity with Help from Nicholas Black Elk and His Spirituality: An Exercise in Interreligious Learning
Hans Stefan Gustafson

As an exercise in interreligious learning, this essay explores the question of multiple religious identity (participation and belonging) of Lakota Catholic Nicholas Black Elk in the context of spirituality and sacramentality. By examining Black Elk’s multiple religious identity and his desire to experience the Wakan, however manifested, in the context of various aspects of Lakota spirituality, a pansacramental worldview emerges in the form of panentheistic and liberal openness. From a non-Native Christian theological perspective, this essay examines Black Elk’s Lakota spirituality insofar as it yields a promising opportunity for non-Native Christians to accept without scandal the possibility of multiple religious identity.

The Bond of Peace“: A Hermeneutical Rapproachement?
William O’Neill

How we interpret our ecumenical differences and the difference they make depends upon our assessment of differences internal to our respective traditions. This essay argues that hermeneutical shifts in modern Roman Catholic teaching on dignity and human rights fundamentally alter the sense of actions regarded as “intrinsically evil.” While these shifts preserve the meaning of the term, they raise serious questions about its applicability to same-sex marriage. Rather than merely assuming that same-sex relations are, per se, intrinsically distorted; Catholic teaching, it is argued, might learn from the Anglican Communion in asking whether the ends of marriage can indeed be fulfilled in such unions.

Of Lasting Value: Raimon Panikkar, Bruno Barnhart, and Donald Nicholl in Conversation about Eucharist
Kenneth P. Kramer

What happens when three interreligious scholars—Raimundo Panikkar, Bruno Barnhart, and Donald Nicholl—find themselves in a deeply profound conversation about the eucharist?  Each speaker has a uniquely expanded notion of what is eucharistic and how and where it manifests itself. Even a broken apple, given to a son by his father, becomes eucharistic.

The Ecumenical Feminist: Arlene Anderson Swidler (1928–2008)
Minjung Noh

This essay introduces Arlene Anderson Swidler, a passionate Catholic feminist writer, lecturer, activist, and scholar of religion. As a part of the post-Vatican II wave, her writings on women in the Catholic Church began to appear as early as 1966. Although her feminist ideas are rooted in Catholicism, they later related to other religions as well. Thus, her activity can be understood as “ecumenical feminism.”