Religious Responses to Suffering: A Comparative Discussion

Tuesday, May 7, 7:00 p.m.,  Olin 101 








The Comparison Project 2012-2013 explored a range of religious explanations of and responses to suffering through a variety of public programing—everything from lectures on the Holocaust and the Lakota Ghost Dance, to community and Drake inter-faith dialogues, to creative non-fiction readings by Above + Beyond Cancer trekkers. Our culminating event invites three philosophers of religion, of varying methodological commitments and religious expertises, to reflect on these responses to suffering, drawing tentative comparative, explanatory, and evaluative conclusions about them.

Bradley Herling is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. He is the author of The German Gita: Hermeneutics and Discipline in the German Reception of Indian Thought, 1778-1831 (Routledge, 2006) and co-editor of Deliver Us From Evil (Continuum, 2009), an interdisciplinary collection of essays that examines the problem of evil and unwarranted suffering. Prof. Herling is currently working on a second edition of his textbook, A Beginner’s Guide to the Study of Religion, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2014.

Read Bradley Herling’s Lecture

Jin Y. Park is Associate Professor of philosophy and religion at American University. Park is the author and editor of several books including Buddhism and Postmodernity: Zen, Huayan, and the Possibility of Buddhist Postmodern Ethics.

Read Jin Park’s Lecture

John J. Thatamanil is Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Immanent Divine: God, Creation and the Human Predicament (Fortress Press) and is currently working on a book, The Promise of Religious Diversity: Constructive Theology After Religion, that explores the meaning of the category “religion” for interreligious dialogue.

Listen to audio of the dialogue:

Buddhism and the Ethics of Memory

kopfpromopicWednesday, April 17 7:00 p.m., Olin 101

Gereon Kopf received his Ph.D. from Temple University and is currently professor of Asian and comparative religion at Luther College. As a research fellow of the Japan Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, he conducted research in 1993 and 1994 at Obirin University in Machida, Japan, and at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan, from 2002 to 2004. In the academic year of 2008-2009, he taught at the Centre of Buddhist Studies at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Beyond Personal Identity (2001), co-editor of Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism (2009), and editor of the Journal of Buddhist Philosophy.

The act of remembering is central to a variety of Buddhist responses to suffering, offering a foundation for responses to historical tragedies and political evil by drawing upon the relationship between the Buddhist principles of suffering, memory, and compassion. Taking various perspectives to the Nanjing massacre as its case study, Dr. Kopf’s lecture will identify and analyze four ways in which individuals and nations commemorate significant events, proposing an ethics of expression that examines the ideological, religious and moral dimensions of various remembrance practices. Ultimately it seeks to provide a theory that reveals the connections between ideological commitments, religious ritual, and moral agenda, reminding us that our self-understanding is inextricably tied to our values and
vice versa.

PowerPoint of Kopf’s lecture

Transcript of Kopf’s presentation

Listen to Kopf’s lecture: