The Great Divide: Faith & Politics in America Today

November 10, 2016

St. John’s Seminary, in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at U.S.C.  hosted a conversation lead by two scholars – Catholic Theologian, Pim Valkenberg, and Canadian Muslim and professor of Theological Studies at LMU, Amir Hussain on Monday, November 7, 2016 in the Theology Prayer Hall. The focus of the symposium centered on Faith and Politics in America Today; The Great Divide. This very timely discussion raised questions on the role and position of individuals and communities of faith in the very complicated political arena and how the conversation is being advanced here in the United States and in the world.

The scholars –  Pim Valkenberg, and Amir HussainRabbi, join their colleague, Rueven Firestone, in spending the Fall 2016 semester at USC engaging students, artists, colleagues, writers, politicians and the larger community in a lively, thoughtful and thought-provoking series of conversations and presentations on the subjects of “Race, Faith & Violence” in the world today.

Amir Hussain, a Canadian Muslim, is professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, where he teaches courses on Islam and world religions. An expert in the subject of contemporary Muslim societies in North America, Amir is the author or editor of five books and well as over 50 scholarly articles and book chapters and from 2011 to 2015, served as editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

Pim (Wilhelmus G.B.M.) Valkenberg was born in the Netherlands where he studied both theology and religious studies. His field of specialization is Christian – Muslim dialogue in the context of Abrahamic partnership, both in the present and in the (Medieval) period. He is also interested in Christology, Hermeneutics, comparative theology, mysticism, and the study of the Qur’an. Pim has taught at the (then) Catholic University of Nijmegen, Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and is currently professor of Religion and Culture in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Reuven Firestone serves as the Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and on the faculty of the School of Religion and the Middle East Studies Center at USC. Firestone’s books include An Introduction to Islam for Jews, Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims, Jews, Christians, Muslims in Dialogue: A Practical Handbook, with Leonard Swidler and Khalid Duran, and Who are the Real Chosen People: The Meaning of Chosenness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He also co-edited, with Professors James Heft S.M. and Omid Safi, Learned Ignorance: An Investigation into Humility in Interreligious Dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

We were delighted to welcome them to St. John’s Seminary for this informative and provocative exchange.