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Scholarship and Devotion: Can They Co-Exist?

Prof. Keith Ward

Can a scholar be a true believer? Can a believer be a good scholar? Two parts of a problem that has exercised many in the West since at least the Enlightenment. Prof. Keith Ward, Regius Professor Emeritus of Divinity at the University of Oxford, takes a fresh look at the conundrum by examining some of the main problems and outlining a few principles that may help modern-day devotee-scholars.

Social Theory and Schisms in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Braja Bihārī Dāsa

This paper focuses on ISKCON’s schisms – what attracted ISKCON members to leave the organisation and form their own groups, often in competition with ISKCON. We will examine the history of these groups and apply several social theories to that history – theories that can be helpful in explaining why members take part in schisms. ISKCON provides a particularly useful forum for examining schisms in religious organisations, since events are recent and most of the key participants still alive.

The Analysis of Norms in Statements on Interfaith Relations

Simon M. Haas

What makes for an effective and enduring statement on interfaith relations? What principles should one apply in formulating such a text? This article identifies the need to focus on norms in the drafting and critical assessment of such formal documents. It demonstrates how norms form the basis of every functional statement on interfaith relations. Neglect of the normative dimension in the creation of such a document, the author argues, diminishes the value of the document correspondingly and gives birth to a formal text that has less than complete integrity. The author then illustrates how a normative analysis tends to expose internal pressures, ambiguities, and contradictions in a formal text. Attention to norms therefore helps tighten drafting and offers a compelling, if not a necessary, approach for the critical analysis of statements on interfaith relations.

Tradition and Dialogue: Reflections on Ravi Gupta’s ‘Walking a Theological Tightrope’

Francis X. Clooney, SJ

In the final issue of the ISKCON Communications Journal, Ravi Gupta wrote an article on the controversies of tradition (sampradāya) in eighteenth-century Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism. Here, Francis Clooney responds to that article from a dialogical perspective, drawing from his own Catholic tradition as well as his extensive research on the Śrīvaiṣṇava sampradāya of South India. Clooney reflects on the tension between maintaining fidelity to tradition while also allowing for originality and innovation. He discusses the special status of founders of traditions – such as Jesus and Caitanya – as well as the role of theologians. He suggests that there is both ‘the danger of too little tradition (in the guise of individual inquiry), or too much tradition (in the guise of supervision and scrutiny)’ and that ‘it is a matter of the times whether one accents the teaching’s continuity or freshness’. Clooney shows the importance of these issues for interreligious dialogue between Vaiṣṇavas and Catholics or, more broadly, Hindus and Christians. He concludes that tradition-based dialogues ‘demand more of their participants than do dialogues bereft of tradition, but their result is richer and of greater benefit to the traditions involved’.

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