Distinguished theologian Paul F Knitter visited Colonial Congregational Church in Prairie Village 2018 April 20 and spoke on "Attitudes toward the Religious Other: The Christian Landscape," ways Christians can approach thinking about those of other faiths.
Vern had a chance to speak briefly with him before his presentation and mentioned that his 2002 book, Introducing Theologies of Religion, is one of the sources for Vern's class, "Ministry in a Pluralistic World," at Central Seminary.
Vern also commented during the forum after the lecture. One point of discussion was the difficulty of one person representing an entire faith tradition with its many historical and contemporary expressions. Vern noted that the Kansas City Interfaith Council was organized in 1989 not with representatives of 13 faiths, but with 13 people from different faith backgrounds, thus avoiding this easy trap. Even Christians forget that their faith today might be very different from another Christian's faith across the street (even within Protestantism, not to mention Catholicism or Orthodoxy) or in other parts of the world; and historical development is seldom recognized -- a Southern Baptist today may be very different from one 50 years ago.
Thanks to Jen Greene for these photos.2018 April 30, Stephen Prothero and Vern discuss the merits of Prothero's 2010 book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the Worldand Why Their Differences Matter, which Vern is using as one of several texts at Central Seminary. Another member of the audience at the annual Religious Studies lecture at KU happened to have a copy of the 2011 column Vern had written about the book and showed it to them. Prothero signed Vern's copy of his new book, Why Liberals Win (Even When They Lose Elections). Prothero's lecture reviewed his earlier and continuing concern about American religious illiteracy, about which he wrote in his 2007 Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't.
Prothero's website is http://stephenprothero.com/.
I've not met Robert Wuthnow, but he did call me on the phone when he was working on one of his books. This 1988 article on Civil Religion remains important: Divided We Fall: Americas Two Civil Religions .
I first met Huston Smith in 1969 or 1970 at the
Div School at the University of Chicago where he had studied and had returned
to report on a second trip to Tibet. We kept running into each other at
various meetings and became friends. I have never met anyone who more appropriately
can be termed a "gentleman." Born in China, in this 2005 photo at the Kansas
City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, he looks very like a Taoist immortal!
Author of the all-time best-selling The World's Religions, he consented
to being interviewed for my Kansas City Star columns repeatedly. I cherish
taking him to his parents' graves in Marshall, MO. I collected some other
photos as a remembrance when he died
in 2016, aged 97.
had retired when I met and studied with him, first at a week-long seminar
in Santa Barbara. Long familiar with his Hero with a Thousand Faces,
I asked him about adpating the three-part sequence he theorizes for the
individual's spiritual journey into a four-part liturgical pattern for
groups. The Kansas City Friends of Jung brought him here several times
after that. In 1988 Campbell became known to a wider audience through the
Bill Moyers PBS "Power of Myth" six-hour poorly edited and sometimes inaccurate
interview series. He was trained in literature, and his study of religion
was without much scholarly expertise, which led him to flawed assumptions.
In my view, Campbell was a convincing story-teller, a bit if the charlatan,
elitist, proto-fascist, crypo-anti-Semite, a great spiritual entertainer.
Perhaps there is no better indication of his self-absorption and scorn
for social structures (from which he himself benefited) than his facile
advice, "follow your bliss." Still, I learned much from him and value the
way he was able to show a large audience hungry for spiritual fare how
myths are powerful paths to the sacred in our secularistic age.