Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist seminary in Hyde Park, Chicago, hopes to join Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant institutions to train clergy together, including offering some shared courses where there is common ground…
Leaders say the interreligious approach heralds the future of theological education and could save financially strapped seminaries nationwide.
“We live in an era when religious tribalism affects us every day,” said the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. “We need to learn to appreciate the traditions out of which we come and to live in an atmosphere of acceptance that goes way beyond tolerance. A seminary like this can help lead the way.”
Claremont School of Theology, a historically Methodist seminary in California, announced last month that it would add clerical training for Muslims and Jews to its curriculum this fall. Meadville Lombard and Andover Newton estimate it will take about a year to roll out its multifaith vision.
Although there are other seminaries that accept students of multiple faiths — Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park offers a master’s in theology with a concentration on interfaith dialogue — the new model is part of an effort to train students who will go on to serve as clergy of their own religious communities in the context of a diverse religious landscape.
It also demonstrates a growing awareness of the role religious differences play in global diplomacy.
What it really demonstrates is the failure of superstition to maintain itself in the face of splintering fundamentalism, ever-diminishing funds dividing the pie between more greedy little sects. And, perish the thought – a world where reason and science are beginning to overwhelm the remaining bastions of 19th Century religious ideology.
It may not feel like it in the several bible-thumping corners of American society still dependent on religion to replace education and thought in day-to-day life. But, that particular quackery also continues to shrink.
It’s a chuckle to watch this last ditch marketing hustle work its way through the system.
It’s like watching all the TV commercials switching over to Australian accents. Har!