Free Interfaith Series on Economic Justice

The excellent Institute for Christian, Jewish, & Muslim Studies in Baltimore is offering a free online series on economic justice this February.

A four week series on Thursday evenings, this series will grapple with questions like “when is a society economically just” with perspectives from a Jewish, a Christian, and a Muslim scholar, each reflecting on economic justice from the perspective of their own religious tradition.

The first session will be an introduction and orientation to interreligious learning by the director of the Institute, who is also their Roman Catholic scholar. It always surprises me a bit that this sort of thing is necessary, because I’ve done a fair bit of ecumenical and interfaith learning and discussion, and it’s always been a positive experience for me. But there does seem to be a fair bit of suspicion, or perhaps simply nervousness, that studying with people from other traditions will somehow “dilute” one’s own religious identity.

For the record, I’ve had the exact opposite experience: there’s nothing that makes me realize just how Catholic I am than hearing people from other religious traditions describe their own spirituality, beliefs, and perspectives! And at the same time, what they contribute broadens my context and perspective, which gives me more to reflect on from my own perspective.

I will never forget the first time I attended a Christian-Jewish bible study offered by ICJS: as we were reading over a text from one of the gospels, a Jewish man in the room spoke up and said, “Jesus sounds just like Jeremiah!!” And suddenly I felt as if a whole new wing had opened up inside my head: I realized that Jesus had been raised in and was preaching to a Jewish community that knew the Law and the Prophets a whole lot better than I did, and that must have influenced how they heard him! It sounds obvious when I say it now, but even obvious things don’t necessarily occur to you if you’re never in a context that sparks the realization.

I’m very pleased that ICJS is beginning to offer courses like these online, to spread their reach beyond the Baltimore area, so that more people can benefit from their work.

And the topic! Economic justice is a topic that I feel is incredibly important, especially in our society today. I have basically no background in economic theology, so this will be a great introduction for me.

I will definitely be there! If you’ll be there too, let me know here or on Twitter, and maybe we can chat about the material during the week after each class. Sort of a virtual “hanging out in the parking lot after the class is over to keep talking”… but without the dark and the cold and the standing. 🙂

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3 Responses to Free Interfaith Series on Economic Justice

  1. Andrew says:

    “For the record, I’ve had the exact opposite experience: there’s nothing that makes me realize just how Catholic I am than hearing people from other religious traditions describe their own spirituality, beliefs, and perspectives! And at the same time, what they contribute broadens my context and perspective, which gives me more to reflect on from my own perspective.”

    I remember listening to a lecture about early Christian doctrinal disputes, and after discussing several different approaches to one particular issue, he mentioned another perspective that I had an immediate emotional response to (“Ah, that’s the right approach!”) – it was such a strong response that it took me aback, and I thought to myself that I had finally noticed the water I was swimming in.

    • I vividly recall my similar experience (shortly before I enrolled at the EI & was shadowing a class there) was not realizing until halfway through a lecture that when the professor said “the church”, he *didn’t* mean the Roman Catholic Church!

      It shocked me because I considered myself experienced in ecumenical conversations. But this made me realize they had all occurred in a Catholic context, where the Catholics were the hosts, framing the conversation and tacitly centering Catholic understandings. Water I was swimming in, indeed!

  2. Pingback: Brief Notes On Marginalia | Gaudete Theology

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