On September 10th Central will host a leading international theologian, Dr. Miroslav Volf, Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. On the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he will be addressing the question: “Ten Years Later--What Should Our conversation Be?” Students, pastors, professors, and lay persons will gather to hear this consummate scholar engage important issues of our time such as:
· Why is enhanced interfaith understanding critical at this historical juncture?
· What practices can assist deeper interfaith alliances?
· What common issues should be priorities for interfaith partnerships?
· What guidelines for theological reflection are crucial?
· How does the national and international rhetoric about religious differences assist or harm the common good?
· As Christians, how do we express our faith in a religiously plural world?
A Croatian by birth, Volf has wrestled with the suffering of his people in the Balkans and sought to examine violence, human identity, and the hard spiritual practice of forgiveness in his award-winning book Exclusion and Embrace. He rightly notes that “otherness” and the profound alienation that practices of exclusion evoke is at the heart of much of the internecine warfare that spatters our world with the blood of vengeance. Thus his call to reconciliation is grounded in the grace that flows from the Crucified One, himself a victim of violence, yet without retaliation.
As we enter a period of national commemoration, it is worth pondering how we remember and what we are willing to release. The US responded to the terrorist attack with horrific firepower and has sustained a bellicose posture of revenge against the perpetrators—and beyond.
My friend, Arville Earl, a CBF representative in Macedonia, offers this insightful perspective concerning commemorations from his cultural context, a context Volf knows well.
The cultural tradition where we live and work is one of hanging on to memories of past events for years and generations. This tenacity tends to influence life and attitudes in present time and interweaves itself into the fabric of daily existence. Therefore, it is a significant challenge to ministry in these circumstances where people struggle with the tension of finding release and moving on and preserving the icons of “they did this to us back then and we shall never forget.”
Volf invites Christians to a “certain kind of forgetting” after the hard work, as Elie Wiesel would instruct, to know, to remember, and not to keep silent. Remembering and releasing remain intertwined as persons follow the pathway of nonviolence, trod by the One who goes before us.
Molly T. Marshall
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