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Comparative Theology

A Critical and Methodological Perspective

Series:

Paul Hedges

Abstract

The nature and field of comparative theology is mapped with particular attention to the tradition associated with Francis Clooney but noting the global and wider context of theology in a comparative mode. There are four main parts. Firstly, mapping the current field and exploring its methodological and theological aspects, with particular attention to global and intercultural theologies, comparative religion, and the theology of religions. Secondly, considering what the deconstruction of religion means for comparative theology and how the term “religion” may be deployed and understood after this. It also takes into consideration turns to lived and material religion. Thirdly, issues of power, representation, and the subaltern are considered, including the place of feminist and queer theory in comparative theology. Finally, an original and constructive discussion on philosophical hermeneutics, as well as the way certain hermeneutical lenses can bring issues into focus for the comparative theologian, is offered. The text notes key trends, develops original models of practice and method, and picks out and discusses critical issues and lacunae within the field.

Series:

Joshua Esler

Abstract

This paper explores the way in which the Hong Kong Christian education system, inherited from the British, has influenced certain Chinese practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism in the territory to follow a ‘Protestantised’ form of Tibetan Buddhism. This paper shows how such practitioners often reject a pragmatic approach to Tibetan Buddhism followed by other Chinese practitioners in Hong Kong, the latter of whom may bring ‘this worldly’ concerns to various deities, bodhisattvas and lamas. Arguing from an ‘alternative’ position on postcolonial and subaltern studies, this paper seeks to show how these Protestantised practitioners, while drawing from a modernist Christian perspective on Tibetan Buddhism, also appropriate the ‘rationalising’ aspects of their Christian education as well as Tibetan Buddhist doctrinal arguments to undermine this perspective. By mimicking the discourse of their Christian education, appropriating it to ‘prove’ the truth of Tibetan Buddhism, and at times undermining the logic of this discourse itself, such practitioners creatively ‘talk back.’