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Christianity in India Conference begins March 23

A Christianity in India Conference titled Reformulating Christianity: Lessons and Challenges from the Church in India will be sponsored by the UTC Department of Philosophy and Religion Thursday, March 23-Friday, March 24 at the UTC University Center. All events will be held in the Raccoon Mountain Room. The conference is free and open to the public.

dempseyDr. Corinne Dempsey University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point) will present “Indian Christianity and American Hinduism: Lessons from a Dialogue among Dialogues” Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center.

Based on her research on religion “out of place” (Catholicism in South India and Hinduism in upstate New York), Dempsey focuses on a dialogue of interreligious dialogues occurring within and between these two settings. In comparing Indian Christianity and North American Hinduism, Dempsey discovers a cluster of similar concerns and struggles.

Under consideration for this conference will be dramatic differences between the two interreligious contexts, most plainly viewed in the realm of popular awareness of religious “others”. After exploring the evidence, Dempsey suggests that we have a long way to go before catching up to our Indian counterparts.

rajDr. Selva Raj, Albion College will present “Made in India: A Different Face of Catholic Christianity” at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 23.

During its 20 centuries of religious history, Catholic Christianity in India has deftly carved for itself an authentically Christian and distinctively local identity.

Drawing from extensive fieldwork and personal experience, Raj’s presentation will provide glimpses of the Indian face of Catholic Christianity and of its variegated regional forms. The Church's manifold ritual expressions, however, often defy official prescriptions and institutional norms, incorporating such things as animal sacrificial rituals and pilgrimage practices that defy traditional Catholic authority.

thangarajDr. Thomas Thangaraj, Candler School of Theology will present “Christian Ecumenism: Challenges and Lessons from the Church in South India” at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 24.

The Church of South India was formed in 1947 as an organic unity of Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist churches. Concern for an authentic Christian witness in the then-emerging independent nation of India was the guiding factor. The ecumenism of South India points to the influence of local cultural values in the life of the united church.

kentDr. Eliza Kent, Colgate University will present “Two Percent: What Indian Christians Can Teach Us about Living in a Pluralistic Society” at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 24.

Kent will reflect on the strategies that Indians, especially Protestant Christian women, use to negotiate religious differences in the public sphere. Kent will examine the diverse ways in which Indian Christian women embrace, or keep at arm’s length, the traditions and practices of their Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Parsee neighbors.

For more information about the Christianity in India Conference, please call (423)425-4334.

March 9, 2006

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