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Paul Knitter, Professor of Theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, received a Licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Marburg, Germany (1972) Most of his research and publications have dealt with religious pluralism and interreligious dialogue. His 1985 book, No Other Name?, called on Christians to engage in a more effective dialogue with persons of other religions. Recently, he has been exploring how the religious communities of the world can cooperate in promoting human and ecological well-being. This is the topic of his two recent books: One Earth Many Religions: Multifaith Dialogue and Global Responsibility (1995) and Jesus and the Other Names: Christian Mission and Global Responsibility (1996) He is also General Editor of the Orbis Book series "Faith Meets Faith."

 

Abstract of paper given at Christianity and Ecology conference:
Deep Ecumenicity vs. Incommensurability: Finding Common Ground on a Common Earth

Postmodernist academicians warn that differences between religious communities are incommensurable, while politicians (especially Asian and African) warn that common agendas for dialogue (such as ecology) are invariably controlled by and serve the purposes of the powerful. My response to such justified reservations will take three steps: 1) I will begin by analyzing the dipolarity, found in all (or most) religious communities, between the ethical and the mystical. 2) I will then argue that our endangered, ailing earth constitutes an ethical challenge which: a) requires a multi-faceted response, of which one of the essential facets is religious; b) is able to elicit a response from all (or most) religious traditions, no matter how "incommensurable" they are in their creeds, codes, and ceremonies; c) provides a reference point or arbiter that can guard against the usurping of the common project by any one participant. 3) Finally, I will explore how a shared ethical response among the different religions of the world can lead them to a shared mystical experience of the earth. Ethical common ground can become mystical common ground; shared ethical praxis can lead to shared mystical or religious experience.

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