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The Comparative Theology Unit of the AAR seeks proposals on the following topics for its session at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

The names listed here are contacts for the purpose of networking and organizing panels. If you have a paper or panel idea related to a topic listed below, the contact can help you network and form a panel proposal.

Climate Justice. We suggest a possible panel on Global warming and its effects on those most vulnerable. The issue may be considered in various ways. One avenue is how a given religious comparative exchange might mutually assist our posture towards those most vulnerable, particularly in its understanding of both the environment and the imperative to address the needs of the marginalized. Another possible avenue is, given that many climate scientists have conceded that global warming will be a fact and that we now need to address how to ameliorate its worst-case scenario, how would a comparative project deepen our understanding of this moral imperative?—Peter Feldmeier peter.Feldmeier@utoledo.edu

Disease in Comparison. I can help connect scholars interested in approaches to disease form a panel proposal. The pandemic challenges all religions to think theologically about their understanding of disease and suffering--broadly understood as physical, emotional, and spiritual. What new dimensions can a comparative approach contribute to your tradition?— Bede Bidlack, bbidlack@anselm.edu

Comparative, Liberation, and Contextual Theology: Solidarity and Communion.
In line with the 2021 AAR Theme, "Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures,” we are seeking papers or a panel on the theme of liberation theology, solidarity, and communion. In a time of increased inequality and inequities, as manifest in the recent pandemic, the global neoliberal order, and racial, ethnic, and religious oppression, how do various theologies mutually challenge and inspire each other to provide frameworks and resources for greater solidarity and communion? We are particularly interested in papers proposing contextual theologies that may provide necessary correctives to comparative or liberation theologies. —Axel Marc Oaks Trakacs, axelmarcoaks.takacs@shu.edu

Comparative Nondualisms. Many religions use the term "nondualism" or one of its variations, and nondualism as a concept is occurring more frequently in popular religious discourse, such as the work of Fr. Richard Rohr. But "nondualism" has different meanings in different contexts. In some traditions, the term "nondualism" is synonymous with monism, asserting that only pure unity has ultimate reality. In other traditions, "nondualism" describes an open and relational ontology, offering deep relatedness within real difference. This panel will consider multiple religious perspectives on the concept of nondualism, to plumb the breadth and depth of its potential meaning. Moreover, in accordance with the themes of justice and equality for the 2021 AAR, the panel will consider the sociopolitical implications of nondualism for our current age of division.  (co-sponsored with Open and Relational Theologies Unit)      

Theology, Literature, and the Arts. Proposals may include but are not limited to: Literary and artistic approaches to theological works, theological analysis of literary texts and art, rituals and art, music and theology. If successful, this will be organized as a co-sponsored session with the Unit of Arts, Literature and Religion--Gloria Maité Hernández: ghernandez@wcupa.edu

We also encourage panel or paper proposals on the following themes that were offered at the business meeting:

• Liturgy and ritual comparative work
• Hagiography in comparison
• Texts from Prison: using prison as a site for comparative theology (perhaps consider Hong Kong’s situation)
• Artificial Intelligence and non-human consciousness: This could be a comparative between AI and humans or such issues as angels and demons (etc.) in comparison interreligiously.
• Comparative theology and post-colonialism. This may become a collaboration with the Interreligious Studies group. This could also address how comparative theology can act as an example of western hegemony. (A concern was raised that in the past such projects tended to be either non-theological or non-comparative.)

Panel proposals must include a diversity statement wherein the conveyor explains in what ways the panel is diverse or the rationale for a lack of diversity.

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection

Mission Statement:

Comparative (interreligious) theology tries to be seriously theological, interreligious, and consciously comparative — all at the same time. It is, like other forms of theology as familiarly understood, primarily a matter of “faith seeking understanding” (or, more broadly, perhaps “the practice of reflective meditative perception” or “insight”) and reflection on this faith as it has been enacted in doctrine, argument, meditation, ritual, and ethical behavior. Like other forms of theology, it is an academic discipline, but may also be about and for the sake of knowledge of God or, more broadly, the ultimate mystery toward which life points. In comparative theology, faith and practice are explored and transformed by attention to parallel theological dimensions of one or more religious or theological traditions, examined historically or in the contemporary context. As a discipline within the academy, this communal and intercommunal faith and practice are open to the analyses, comments, and questions of insiders to the involved traditions, and to scholars not necessarily defined by any such commitments who are nonetheless able and willing to explore the full range of dynamics of faith seeking understanding in a comparative perspective. Please contact any Steering Committee Member for further information on the Unit, including the most recent self-study and statement of purpose, or to be added to the Unit.

Method of Submission:




Bede Bidlack, bbidlack@anselm.edu

Wilhelmus Valkenberg, valkenberg@cua.edu


Steering Committee:

Francis X. Clooney, fclooney@hds.harvard.edu

Catherine Cornille, cornille@bc.edu

Mark Edwards, markmythoughts@gmail.com

Peter Feldmeier, peter.feldmeier@utoledo.edu

Marianne Moyaert, m.moyaert@vu.nl

Axel Marc Oaks Takacs, takacsax@shu.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2021