Thursday, January 19, 2017

LREL trumps hate!

"You didn't ignore tomorrow!" said one of my colleagues. I guess not! The occasion was a forum for incoming transfer students, where each of our college's programs had 5 minutes to introduce itself. In my five I guess I referred to the incoming regime three times!

First, in my opening, a description of my visit to the Islam class last semester where I was so enchanted by the art, spirituality and humor of traditions around the lovers Layla and Majnun. Would that those coming into power in Washington tomorrow, who will cause the deaths of many Muslims, knew about this, I said.

Second, in an aside about how New School has been asking questions about religion throughout its history, I showed the flyer for the "Religion - Why?" lectures of 1932, noting that at another time when the expected shape of history was being bent out of shape by rising fascism, we explored the potential of progressive religion to be a resource in responding.

And finally in plugging my friend M's course "Medieval Church and State," which I promised was not just the sort of course you should take in college (what will you never have a chance to study outside college?) but would help students understand both sides in the coming discussions about religion and the state.

My own courses, will they be of use? Indirectly, maybe. I teach complexity, humility before historical contingency, the inescapability and multiplicity of interpretations and the necessity and value of exploring them. That's not just the navel-gazing of "cosmopolitan elites" but something more like what democracy (Christianity, too) requires.

No comments: