Transforming Religion within Multiple Modernities

New Explorations from the Buddhist and Islamic Traditions

Faced with modernity and its significant—and often protean—demands, religions variously assume postures of conflict, competition, and collaboration as they seek to preserve vital connections to their past and position themselves for an uncertain future. A major question that has arisen out of this modern situation is how do religious traditions bring fresh approaches to classical texts and themes as adherents address the realities they face in their respective communities and within broader societies?
In this seminar, two scholars will present their recent research on this issue. Michael Chan will consider how contemporary Buddhist communities in Taiwan have reoriented their focus from the trans-mundane to the mundane world in reaction to the forces of modernization. He will then address the resulting outcomes of such reorientation. Beginning with the classical period, Matthew Anderson will reflect on the themes of blasphemy and free expression within the Islamic tradition, exploring both challenges and opportunities surrounding this significant component of modern intercultural dialogue and debate.

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