Ahead of his book talk on April 20, Center for the Study of World Religions director and Harvard Divinity School professor Francis X. Clooney opens up about the importance of comparing religious traditions, the difficulties of academic writing, and if loving God is harder today than it was centuries ago.
HDS: Your work and writings often draw on examples from Hinduism, which is a religion you study but is not your own. As a comparative theologian, why is it important for one to study and learn from religions other than one’s own?
Clooney: It is commonplace to point out that “those who know only their own religion, know no religion at all.” Indeed, most of what we learn, we learn through comparisons.
We see with two eyes, not one, to get two perspectives. Today in particular we live with an acute consciousness of the religious people of other faith traditions all around us—both to learn from them and to learn better who we are in relation to them.