In this episode, hear a conversation about the history of inter-religious dialogue from the co-directors of the Multi-Religious Fellows program.
How have interfaith relations shifted in the last century? Why is there still so much religious violence in the world? And how can we know if our lives have made a difference?
This episode takes a step away from the conversations between fellows to offer some history and context from two masters of multi-religious work—Rabbi Barry D. Cytron and Dr. Marty Stortz. Barry and Marty serve as co-directors of the Collegeville Institute’s Multi-Religious Fellows program and have dedicated their careers to civil discourse as spiritual practice. Don’t miss their wide-ranging discussion on faith and politics, the need for honest conversation, and how Judaism and Christianity approach forgiveness and reconciliation.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- History of Jewish-Christian relations in the last century
- Religious violence and collective action
- How faith communities can promote civil conversation
- Shifting from dialogue to action in inter-religious settings
- Secularization and the role of religious leaders
- Forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Minneapolis was once considered “one of the most anti-Semitic cities in America”
- Learn about ‘Nostra Aetate,’ which opened up Catholic-Jewish Relations over 50 years ago
- Books mentioned include Strangers in their own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, and When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner
- The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates and David’s Brooks’ 2019 response article
Barry D. Cytron co-directed the Collegeville Institute’s first Multi-Religious Fellows cohort. He served for 25 years as a congregational rabbi, first in Des Moines, Iowa and then in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1996-2008, he directed the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, a Minnesota venture devoted to fostering sustained interreligious education. During that same period of time, he taught at the CSB/SJU Department of Theology and Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary primarily in the area of Ethics. He graduated from New York’s Columbia University, from which he also received an M.A., was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and earned his Ph.D. at Iowa State University. With colleague Earl Schwartz of Hamline University, he has written two texts exploring Jewish ethical teachings, When Life is in the Balance and Who Renews Creation. For many years a regular contributor to the commentary pages of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he joined the faculty of Macalester College in 1989, where he taught in the religious studies department for nearly three decades, undertaking the additional role of associate chaplain for Jewish life in 2008.
Martha “Marty” Stortz co-directed the Collegeville Institute’s first Multi-Religious Fellows cohort. She holds the Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation at Augsburg University where she teaches in the Department of Religion. From 1981 to 2010, she taught at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, where she also served as a member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California. Dr. Stortz, who received her Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College and her Master of Arts and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, is a distinguished theologian whose scholarship includes work in historical and systematic theology, ethics, and biblical studies. She is an acclaimed teacher, scholar, and leader in the church, academy, and wider society. In addition to her many published articles, she is the author of A World According to God: Practices for Putting Faith at the Center of Your Life (2004), Blessed to Follow: The Beatitudes as a Compass for Discipleship (2008), and Called to Follow: Journeys in John’s Gospel (2017).
Ellie Roscher is a writer, theology teacher, and host of the Unlikely Conversations podcast. She is a board member at the Collegeville Institute and the author of 12 Tiny Things, Play Like a Girl, and How Coffee Saved My Life. Ellie holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. Find out more about Ellie on her website and follow her on social media at @ellieroscher [Twitter, Instagram, Facebook].
- Follow the work of the Collegeville Institute on social media at @collegevilleins [Twitter, Instagram, Facebook] and subscribe to our email newsletter
- Share the podcast and use the following discussion questions with your small group for further conversation
- When have you found yourself in a situation where you have to seek out folks not like you for a sense of community?
- If you identify as Christian, where do you see your privilege playing out in the United States?
- What are steps you could take in the next few months to remember the religious hate crimes of our recent past and deepen your multi religious relationships?
- What work do you need to do to move toward seeking forgiveness? When all is said and done, how do you want your life to be judged? How do you hope your life mattered? Is this a place to meet others across religious boundaries?
- After listening to Barry and Marty, what are you curious about?
- Watch a video of Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber addressing forgiveness
- Barry spoke about how, in Judaism, the perpetrator does the work first and then asks forgiveness after the life is changed- worthy of forgiveness. He went on to talk about how repartations fits into this conversation on reconciliation. Read A Case for Reparations and discuss.