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2010 Seminars

Faith and Globalization Volf Photo
July 12 - July 23, 2010

Directed by
Dr. Miroslav Volf

Co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Seminar Description

Religious faiths and globalization processes are the two of the most important forces in the world today. Religions are and in the foreseeable future will continue to be a major force — for good as well as for ill — in shaping the private and the public lives of people worldwide. The number of religious people is growing both in absolute and in relative terms, they are asserting themselves in the public realm, and the social spaces they occupy are increasingly religiously pluralistic. Globalization processes will continue to “shrink” and “interlink” the world, leading to significant improvements in living conditions, as well as leaving in their trail damaged lives, stunted development of whole cultures, and a despoiled environment. The two forces have often clashed in the past — as in the case of extreme Islam’s violent reactions to globalization. It is imperative that we find ways for religion and globalization to strengthen – and not to destroy – one another. It is important to get clarity about the nature of the relationship between faiths and globalization as well as about how faiths as overarching interpretations of life can both shape globalization and appropriately adopt themselves to the new situation created by globalization processes. The seminar will center on the indispensable contribution that the Christian faith can make to making globalization serve authentic human flourishing.

About the Director

Dr. Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, and Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture.

A native of Croatia, Prof. Volf has forged a theology of forgiveness and non-violence in the face of the horrendous violence experienced in Croatia and Serbia in the 1990s. While he maintains active interest in many aspects of faith’s relation to culture, his primary work has focused on theological understandings of work, the church, the Trinity, violence, reconciliation, and memory.

After receiving the B.A. from the Evangelical-Theological Faculty in Osijek, Croatia, Prof. Volf received his M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary and both his Dr. theol. and Dr. theol. habil. from the University of Tubingen, Germany. He served as co-editor (1979-84) and then editor (1984-89) of Izvori, a Croatian Christian monthly, and he has published numerous books and articles in the U.S., Germany, and his native country. His book Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation received the 2002 Grawemeyer Award, which is given annually by Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville. The book focuses on exclusion between groups of people and reaches back to the New Testament metaphor of salvation as reconciliation. It offers the idea of embrace as a theological response to the problem of alienation of peoples.

Miroslav Volf’s most recent books are The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (Eerdmans, 2006) and Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (Zondervan, 2005), which was selected as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten Book for 2006. His other books include A Passion for God’s Reign: Theology, Christian Learning, and The Christian Self (Eerdmans, 1997) and After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Eerdmans, 1998). The latter is the inaugural volume in the “Sacra Doctrina: Christian Theology for a Postmodern Age” series edited by Alan G. Padgett. He also edited, with Dorothy C. Bass, Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life (Eerdmans, 2001). In addition, Prof. Volf has written more than 70 scholarly articles and hundreds of popular editorials and articles.

Most recently, Prof. Volf was the lead author of the Christian response to “A Common Word Between Us and You,” the historic open letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals,  released in October 2007, which identified some core common ground at the heart of the Christian and Muslim faiths (the complete text can be found online at www.acommonword.com). The “Yale response,” as this response to “A Common Word” has become known, was published in November 2007 as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, signed by more than 130 prominent Christian leaders and scholars; the complete text of that document can be found at http://www .yale.edu/faith/abou-commonword.htm.

Miroslav Volf has given many prestigious lectureships including the Dudleian Lecture, Harvard; the Chavasse Lectures, Oxford; the Waldenstroem Lectures, Stockholm; the Gray lectures, Duke University; and the Stob Lectures, Calvin College. He has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” and Public Television’s “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly,” as well as serving as a keynote presenter for the Trinity Institutes’s 36th National Conference, The Anatomy of Reconciliation (2006).


Seminars @ Calvin
Calvin College
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Grand Rapids MI 49546-4402
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seminars@calvin.edu