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Claremont School of Theology
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Christian - Jewish Relations
The Vatican II Council of 1965 signaled a new era in the relationship of the Jewish and Christian faiths. An entirely new category of theology emerged as the developing Jewish Christian dialogue and gradually theologians began to respond.
Following is a link to anarticle is written by my high school classmate and oldest friend, Michael S. Kogan. Kogan call for each tradition to receive the wisdom of the other as a means of self understanding. Once each faith is freed to find God's purpose in the other, the way will be open to a liberating pluralism in which Jews and Christians come to see each other as Israelite siblings sharing a universal role as God's witnesses, the builders of God's kingdom on earth. Neither faith can do this world redemptive work alone. Kogan argues than an affirmation of one's faith can still provide space for the truth of the "other" and presents a theory of multiple revelations of truth flowing from one God of all.
So, while one can posit that newer ways of interaction through online social media has had a direct impact on becoming affiliated with a religious institution, I'd say that such impact is minor. Far greater is the turn off created by rigid beliefs and their accompanying liturgies.
The first thing that needs to be changed is the divide between those believing in (and having a personal relationship with) "God" and those who don't believe or experience that. To do this one must define "God" not as some super power sitting above in judgment and exercising control (even if giving humans free will). "God" can best be understood as the underlying energy behind all we see and experience - focusing on a common humanity with an underlying divine presence. Liturgy should either reflect that or be understood as poetry rather than statements to be understood literally (e.g. the Nicene Creed). Homilies should focus on a religion's ethical teachings, those actions related to building the "kingdom" on earth through compassion, caring and love (not on earning a place in some fictional heavenly afterlife).
" A final question, which I’ve asked others in this Q. and A. series. I consider myself a Christian, for I admire Jesus’ teachings, but I doubt the virgin birth, (physical) Resurrection and other miracles, and it does seem complicated to be a Christian who questions the (physical) Resurrection. So: Am I a Christian?"
"That’s not for me, but for you to answer. Following Jesus is the core of being a disciple of Jesus, which also implies a personal relationship with Jesus, who was not merely a former Galilean boy scout. Some have said that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt but certainty. And I would say that faith can lead either to deeper reflection or easy certainty; I prefer the former. Our limited human comprehension of the world’s greatest mysteries is less important to me than what can transform our lives and the world. One of my mentors, Desmond Tutu, needed a real resurrection to sustain him in the South African struggle, and I do today as we struggle for a genuine real multiracial democracy based on what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis called us to: a beloved community."
(This should be shared with the homophobic, self described "conservative Christian" leadership of Bel Air Church in Los Angeles).
By Nicholas Kristof
"A granddaughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, Jerushah Duford, is a committed evangelical Christian who describes herself as “pro-life.”
For most of her life, she voted Republican. Yet this year, she is voting for Joe Biden and is encouraging fellow Christians to distance themselves from a president who she says is trying “to hijack our faith for votes.”
“The Jesus we serve promotes kindness, dignity, humility, and this president doesn’t represent our faith,” Duford said.
She made clear to me that she is not speaking for her grandfather, the famous evangelist who died in 2018. But she added: “I think he would be sad. I think his greatest desire had nothing to do with policies but to introduce people to a loving Jesus, and the division this administration has caused I believe has hurt this effort.”
In one sense, Duford is an outlier. About eight of 10 white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and polling suggeststhat the great majority will vote for him again in 2020. But Duford is part of a broader movement among some evangelical leaders to distance their faith from Trump, which in turn means interpreting “pro-life” in a broader way. In a sign that some evangelical voters are in play this year, the Biden campaign is advertising heavily on Christian radio stations.
“Mr. President, the days of using our faith for your benefit are over,” declares a video from a Christian group called Not Our Faith. “We know you need the support of Christians like us to win this election. But you can’t have it. Not our vote. Not our faith.”
The Rev. John Huffman, who once was President Richard Nixon’s pastor, said he has voted Republican all his life but has now joined a group called Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden. He said he prays for Trump but sees him as “an immoral, amoral sociopathic liar who functions from a core of insecure malignant narcissism.”
Huffman and others say they are speaking up partly because they fear that Christianity is tarnished and losing ground in the United States because of the strong support Trump receives from many evangelical leaders. (One of them is Duford’s uncle, Franklin Graham, who has claimed that Billy Graham voted for Trump in 2016.) Duford told me her message to the public is, “I’m sorry you have witnessed the same greed and hypocrisy in the church that you see in the world, but this is not what Jesus is about.”
There’s nothing inherently conservative about evangelical Christianity, for Black evangelicals mostly vote Democratic and there is a long tradition of liberal evangelicals from Martin Luther King Jr. to Jimmy Carter to the writer Jim Wallis. But in recent decades, white evangelicals have mostly voted Republican, and Duford and others engaged in the new outreach acknowledge that many find it somewhere between scary and unthinkable to break that tradition.
A huge obstacle for many evangelicals considering a vote for Democrats is abortion policy. So a particularly important part of the upheaval now underway within evangelical ranks is a move to redefine “pro-life” to apply to more than fetuses.
“I genuinely wish the Democratic Party would have a greater value for life inside the womb,” Duford said. “Yet I equally wish the Republican Party would place a greater value on life outside the womb. You cannot choose just one and define yourself as pro-life.”
The progressive outreach to evangelical voters also argues that as a practical matter, abortion rates fall more during Democratic administrations than Republican ones, a claim that has some basis but tends to be exaggerated. It is true that one of the most effective strategies to reduce abortion numbers is to provide comprehensive s*x education and family planning, to reduce unwanted pregnancies. For example, countries with free, legal abortion, like the Netherlands, have substantially lower abortion rates than the United States.
“A growing number of Christians have realized that their religious beliefs concerning the sanctity of life can be advanced in practical ways other than simply voting for conservative judges to make abortion illegal,” said Deborah Fikes, a former evangelical leader in Texas who became so disillusioned by policies of the American Evangelical Church that she left and joined the Methodist Church. Evangelical churches, she said, have mistakenly pursued a harmful “strategy of political gain in Jesus’s name.”
A similar ferment is apparent among Catholics. “I am voting for Joe Biden because I am pro-life,” a Catholic nun, Sister Mary Traupman, wrote to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Describing family separation at the border, environmental degradation, denial of health care to the poor, she added, “These are not pro-life policies.”
The Rev. Greg Boyle, who runs programs for gang members in Los Angeles, told me something similar. “I have never endorsed a candidate in any race until now,” Father Boyle said, but now he endorses Biden. “This is a vote for the soul of the nation,” he added. “I’ve never seen an existential threat like this in my 66 years of living.”
“This is not about partisan politics,” he said. “It’s about truly choosing life.”
A progressive Christian grad school with an ecumenical approach to theological education. Welcome to the official Claremont School of Theology page.
Please take a moment to read through our posting and commenting policy below. Then, jump right in! The CST page is intended to be an online community where all people are welcome and encouraged to respectfully engage with one another on a variety of topics and share CST-related discoveries, experiences, and information. Those who post in and comment on this page are asked to follow the gu
Operating as usual
Dr. Lailatul “Laily” Fitriyah, who researches decoloniality as Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology, was recently quoted in a Washington Post article titled “Indigenous people slam Avatar (again) for tropes and inaccuracies.” You can read the article and Dr. Fitriyah’s quote at: https://wapo.st/3PTNH6W
“This fall semester, I have the immense pleasure of co-teaching an online class on spiritual formation with Dr. Aizaiah Yong at Claremont School of Theology,” says Dr. Yohana Junker in a blog excerpt. “As we began thinking of how to ‘Bless the Space Between Us,’ between the weekly assignments, among the diverse time zones and geographic locations, an idea emerged of incorporating epistolary practices in what we named SpiritLetters. At the end of each week, we take turns writing a reflection on how our weeks have been, what kinds of spiritual practices have sustained us, and what types of literature, art forms, prayers, and blessings have given us nourishment as our lives unfold. These experiments with letter writing in the context of our teaching-learning community are intended to share a kind of presence that enacts, embodies, and evokes a sense of deep regard and warmth that only this medium can radiate. The Irish teacher and poet John O’Donohue is responsible for inspiring and inspiriting both our SpiritLetters and this blog post’s title.” Read the full blog by Dr. Junker and Dr. Yong at: https://bit.ly/3jhioXj
May peace, love and joy be yours this holiday season and all year long.
CST students are doing remarkable things! Contextual Theologies PhD student Rev. Bitrus Bamai and his wife Ruth were recently interviewed by fellow CST student, India India Jensen-Kerr, about the nonprofit they started in Nigeria where Bitrus and Ruth are from.
Last Christmas, their nonprofit, Beautiful Hands Compassionate Ministry, donated food items to these hundreds of internally displaced people– women and children whose husbands and parents were killed, their homes destroyed, and are displaced by terrorists. According to the leader of the displaced people, they ran out of food and two days before Christmas, everyone was worried about the situation. Their leader told them “not to worry because God will provide us with rice and other food items to celebrate. Just get ready.” Suddenly on Christmas Eve, the Beautiful Hands Compassionate Ministry, without any idea of what the people were going through, appeared with exactly what they were praying and hoping for.
If you’d like to learn more or get involved, please contact Rev. Bitrus at [email protected].
The CST community joins Marian Gill’s family and friends in both grieving this loss and celebrating her memory. A lifelong educator, Marian served on the Board of Trustees from 2006–2016. “One of the greatest blessings in my life and my ministry at CST is to have known and worked with Marian,” President Jeffrey Kuan shared. We are deeply grateful for her years of service on our Board of Trustees and for chairing the Academic Affairs Committee.
Holiday cheer was abundant as our wonderful staff celebrated this blessed season with a special lunch complete with tasty treats; gifts; great conversation; and beautiful decorations by Angela Ellis, Ana Tamayo, and our student workers.
When you’re ready to strengthen your ministry, we’re ready to help you earn your degree. CST’s top-rated Master of Divinity (MDiv) program is available 100% online in addition to our on-campus and hybrid options. To get started, email [email protected] or visit our website at: https://cst.edu/for-such-a-time-as-this/
Dr. Yohana Junker on the Abolition Advent Calendar
This season of advent, Dr. Yohana Junker, CST’s Assistant Professor of Art, Religion & Culture, has been creating an Abolition Advent Calendar with the United Church of Christ. Each reflection includes scripture, quotes, prayers and actions, with art by Dr. Junker. Learn more and sign up to receive the Abolition Advent Calendar at: https://bit.ly/3Hx3whE
Thanks to the O'Connor Scholarship, one CST student will be chosen to have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus on a Holy Land Tour. Any active UMC MDiv student at CST can apply and, if selected, will be awarded up to $4500 to support a 10-day immersion trip to the Holy Land!
Winter Spiritual Care Seminars | AJRCA
Winter Spiritual Care Seminars | AJRCA Join us December 14 and 15 for three Spiritual Care and Education Seminars.
Today we’re spotlighting Ana Tamayo, who serves as CST’s Coordinator of Student Support Services, Designated School Official, & Accessibility/Disabilities Services Coordinator. Here’s what we asked her:
Q: What attracted you to working at CST?
A: “The people. The overall CST community is just wonderful. I loved this place from the beginning.”
Q: What do you love most about the work you do?
A: “Getting something done that makes a difference to a student. Hearing that I made even just a small impact in a student’s day/life/education – it is fulfilling.”
Swipe to see photos of Ana doing some of her favorite things, like cuddling with her cat named Kobe, enjoying her favorite sushi (caterpillar rolls), and satisfying her sweet tooth.
Many people think our commitment to Interreligious Education is a recent addition to Claremont School of Theology, but in reality, World Religions was taught in the late 1800s when CST used to be known as the Maclay College of Theology at University of Southern California. Before any building on the Claremont campus was dedicated, Rabbi Samson Levey was also teaching Jewish Studies for our university. In the 60’s we offered courses in “Buddhism,” “Hinduism,” “Comparative Thought and Practices of World Religions,” “Buddhist-Christian Encounters,” and “Japanese Religions.” In the 70’s we added “Marxism,” “Religions of India,” “Sacred Traditions of China and Japan,” “Christianity and Communism.” 1981 saw our first “Seminar in Islam.” The school continued its commitment to Interreligious Education over the decades and by 2011, we had helped launch Bayan Islamic Graduate School with its roots in the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC). Learn more about our history at https://cst.edu/about
Rev. Belva Brown Jordan received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa at this year’s commencement. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Belva has focused her three decades of ministry on academic administration in higher education, supporting three other theological schools before coming to Claremont School of Theology. In all of her roles at CST, Belva has had the unique ability to handle difficult situations with grace, dignity, restraint, and good humor. We thank and honor Belva for the rich talents and gifts she continues to share with the CST community. https://bit.ly/3OVylyd
CST is part of the fight to keep this important day top of mind.
Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are dedicated to creating a more just, compassionate, and inclusive world. This , your donation to Claremont School of Theology's Annual Operating Campaign serves as an investment in that mission. Please consider making a donation at www.cst.edu/donate or rally your community for support by creating your own CST fundraiser on Facebook. Just follow the link to launch your fundraiser in under two minutes. ➡️ https://bit.ly/3gFO4EY
Are you ready to transform the world? Meet the moment at Claremont School of Theology. www.cst.edu
Looking for ways to experience Thanksgiving respectfully? Honor Native Americans by talking about the holiday’s real history and learning about different tribes and the people that are indigenous to where you live. You can use www.native-land.ca as a starting point. If you are having a feast or sharing your Thanksgiving plans on social media, you can practice a “land acknowledgment,” such as “we are gathered here today on traditional [insert local tribe here] land.” This practice shows respect for indigenous peoples and recognizes their enduring relationship to the land. You can also prepare and serve a Native American dish in honor of the original inhabitants of this land. You may also consider donating to Native American nonprofit organizations, such as the American Indian College Fund, the Native American Rights Fund, or the Native American Heritage Association.
Two of the three new episcopal leaders elected by the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church are Claremont School of Theology (CST) alumni! Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank, a Latina pastor, author and speaker, was named a 2018-19 CST distinguished alumna for her work with immigrants in Arizona. She is a CST trustee. Before her election, she served as a pastor and as a district superintendent. Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth, a pastor, author and coach, was featured in the CST “For Such a Time as This” campaign. He is the first openly gay African American man to be elected a bishop in The United Methodist Church. He most recently directed communications for the California-Pacific Annual Conference. Read the full story at: https://bit.ly/3gtdcP5
We’re continuing International Education Week with another featured international scholar, Yohan Im, who is joining us from South Korea for our Master of Divinity program. He said “Studying abroad has broadened my perspectives. I grew up in South Korea whose feature is a single nation-state. Moreover, I have been only under the influence of the Christian faith. So, I was quite a conservative person. Before studying in the U.S, I was not used to having a conversation with someone who had a different perspective from me. Therefore, I used to make conflicts in conversations with others. However, studying abroad changed my life.
"After coming to the U.S, I had the opportunity to communicate with people of various ethnicities, races, cultures, languages, countries, and religions. I love the academic diversity at CST. Through inter-religious programs, I have learned how to listen to other people’s opinions and how to solve problems about conflict of ideological differences. I believe that understanding different faiths and cultures will facilitate me to do effective ministry in a pluralistic world, even speaking about beliefs respectfully with people who do not speak “theological language.” The experience of studying abroad helps me to become a person who can recognize the diversity in the world, making my personality more peaceful.”
We’re celebrating International Education Week! Our international scholar of the day is Kumrila Mongzar from India who is studying Contextual Theologies (Global Ph.D) with a specialization in Process Studies. What she loves most about CST is that it’s “unapologetic to stand for justice, truth, and compassion.” She says “The foundation for such a worldview results in seeing everybody as equally human before their socio-political, ethnic, and religious background.” Kumrila also told us “studying abroad has broadened my horizons in perceiving the realities of life. It is helping me not only to fulfill my goals but also positively challenging me to enlarge those ‘goals.’ And the challenge to enlarge my goals has also resulted in personal growth as well. I am coming to learn there is always so much more than there is. And with diverse cultures and people it only adds so much beauty and excitement to it.”
We find strength and unity in diversity. We are rooted in hope, growing in different directions and following different paths, but united by a common call to love, serve, and heal. www.cst.edu
NBC Interview with Dr Nitin Shah at Anaheim Health Fair
Dr. Nitin Shah, one of CST’s incredible trustees, was featured on NBC LA yesterday as the organizer of the 16th annual Anaheim Health Fair, which provides free medical, dental, and vision care, as well as free legal and citizenship help. Some 1,000 people were served this weekend thanks to Dr. Shah’s efforts and 150 doctors, healthcare professionals and community members who volunteered their time and talents.
As a Hispanic Summer Program (HSP) sponsoring school, CST students, faculty, and staff have access to an expanded curriculum taught by world-class Latinx faculty as well as programs that enrich Latinx theological education at our institution. You are invited to apply to the HSP Summer Session, which gathers students from across the country for a two-week summer intensive where participants get the opportunity to take accredited, graduate level courses with some of the nations top Latinx faculty in an environment that centers Latinx methods, pedagogies, and stories. Apply by December 1, 2022 for the 2023 session, which will take place from June 18th to July 1st. Learn more and apply at: https://bit.ly/3fY7K6P
Hey, CST Alumni! We Want to Share Your Story!
We want to share your story! Tell us how you're putting your degree and CST's values into practice and we'll share it on social media. We’ll randomly select a handful of participants to receive new CST-branded swag as a "thank you!" Email [email protected] to get started.
Sejin “Kaleb” Oh knew he had to answer his call and he knew CST was the place. For Sejin, and so many young pastors, scholarships are a lifesaver. They allowed Sejin to focus on his education and ministry and gave him and his family precious time together — to feel rested, secure, and ready to learn. Sejin now serves as Lead Pastor at El Segundo United Methodist Church, putting his education and calling into practice. He loves his church, and they love him. Your support of theological education directly leads to strong and creative pastors like Sejin who are unburdened by monumental debt. Please consider making a donation to CST's annual operating campaign at:
Donate Thank YOU! Thank you for your faithfulness to the mission and vision of CST and to our incredible students. Your gifts make this sacred work possible and serves as an investment in healthier, life-giving churches and organizations, as well as in the development of stronger communities across the wor...
Thank you to our students, staff, and faculty for the hundreds of responses for our Activating Change Survey! We’ll be hosting two town hall meetings via Zoom to share key findings and to listen to your experiences so we can continue to envision and co-create our future.
The town halls will follow the Brazilian model of ouvidoria, which means “a place to listen” from the Latin audire. The purpose is to listen mindfully and compassionately to suggestions, appreciation, claims, and concerns. If you’re a current student, staff, or faculty member, please join us via Zoom in this self-evaluation, accountability, participatory action, and critically important alignment process. Register at: https://bit.ly/3WvMntV
Today is “I Stand With Immigrants Day of Action” for colleges and universities. We all have our place in the American story, whether as a new immigrant, native to this land, a descendent of enslaved people, or those who came to our nation seeking a better life. The campaign provides an opportunity to bring awareness to this shared history and stand in solidarity.
As we come together with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration to celebrate the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric, we’re calling on Congress to protect Dreamers and DACA recipients by passing bipartisan legislation. Visit www.fwd.us/action to take action today.
If you’ve been discerning a call to ministry or further study in theology and religion, especially within the United Methodist Church, be sure to join the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS) Virtual Recruiting Fair, featuring all thirteen UMC theological schools, including Claremont School of Theology. This free virtual event will take place on Friday, November 4 at 1-3 PM (EDT). Register at: https://bit.ly/3gNBfIo
In the last two and half years, the need for compassionate, spiritually-grounded, and well-educated hospital chaplains has not only grown but has changed. Because hospital staff have borne the overwhelming burden of a global pandemic, hospital chaplains have found themselves tending to the needs of exhausted, burned-out, frontline caregivers as much as or more than patients. We are honored to prepare students in our Master of Divinity in Interfaith Chaplaincy program for such a time as this.
If you too are grateful for the students who answer a call to chaplaincy, who extend the ministry of presence to all who need it, and who are formed by a school with a long and powerful history of transformative education in pastoral care, please consider making a donation to CST’s annual fund at: https://cst.edu/donate
Last chance to register for this transformative event discussing the philosophy & tradition of practicing forgiveness in faiths & cultures across the world, opening with an intro to the concept of forgiveness in . Register by Oct 29th at 5 pm PST. Special thanks to The Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies for funding this incredible conference. https://bit.ly/3fcL02j
Prof. Dr. Laily Fitriyah’s newest graduate seminar “Learning with the Marginalized: Wasted Lives and Death Worlds?” focuses on theoretical and practical discourses on the roots and formations of the epistemologies of the oppressed. Dr. Fitriyah discusses how and why various forms of marginalization exist, and what constitutes the epistemologies that arise from marginalized contexts. Ways of thinking and living underneath global structures of oppression are talked about, and, most importantly, other ways to think and live that can nurture life, instead of producing death. Visit the link to learn more about Dr. Fitriyah. https://cst.edu/lailatul-fitriyah-2/
How might reading Genesis 34 alongside the real-life experiences of Love-Jihad/Honor killing in India lead to a more nuanced interpretation? Dr. Sharon Jacob, Visiting Professor of New Testament and Postcolonial Studies at Claremont School of Theology, recently published an article titled “Love in the Time of Nationalism: Dinah, Shechem, and Love Laws” for Feminist Studies in Religion, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to foster feminist studies in religion in all its variety and diversity. Read Dr. Jacob’s full article at: https://bit.ly/3CV4mRp
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