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The Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and a leading Palestinian Christian theologian, writer, and activist, spoke at Hartford Seminary on Wednesday about his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes.

Dr. Raheb, who spent three months doing post-doctorate research at Hartford Seminary in 1996, is on a tour of the U.S. to promote the latest of his 16 books. He began by saying that the first 15 books could be seen as “dancing to the rhythm of 19th century European organ music.” This last book, he said, is where he has finally started to “discover the beat of the Palestinian drum.”

Faith in the Face of Empire, he said, was his attempt to bridge the gap between the theologians and the political scientists, who look at different time periods without any overlap.

He also said the “Palestinian narrative” hasn’t been part of the discussion as strategists talk about the Middle East. That narrative, he said, has been one of a series of occupations, the story of which can be told through the lens of the Bible.

Mitri Raheb lunch talk 008


“The whole Bible is nothing but the response of the occupied people to the empire,” he said.

In a discussion with the audience, Dr. Raheb said he believed that politics has become too focused on talking about peace rather than making it, making a distinction between the politics of a place and its people. He also said that too much religion has created problems as well.

“As a pastor, I work for less religion, more faith,” he said.

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The University of Hartford generously sent one of its own to Hartford Seminary Friday to give a lunch talk on “Jewish Theology and the Holocaust.”

Dr. Avinoam Patt is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization. He is the author of Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust.

Dr. Patt gave an overview of Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust, drawing on his work as a historian at both UHart and at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

He described nine different theological responses to the Holocaust, ranging from the notion that the Jewish people are “suffering servants” meant to suffer for the sins of the world to the idea that God turns away at times from human affairs to the “inscrutable mystery” approach.

Dr. Patt also talked about how Jews reacted during the Holocaust. Some found a deepening of their faith, even risking their lives to perform Jewish rituals, while others turned away and decided they couldn’t believe in a God that could let such suffering happen.

For more news and events from Hartford Seminary, please visit www.hartsem.edu/events

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It was close to a full house on Wednesday evening at Hartford Seminary as Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub and the Rev. Matt Laney of Asylum Hill Congregational Church gave a joint presentation on “The Bible and the Qur’an.”

The event was a continuation of the Interfaith University program developed this fall by the Asylum Hill Congregational Church. The purpose of Interfaith University is to explore what it means to be a Christian in a multi-faith world, and this year’s program focused on Islam. When the four week program concluded, participants wanted more, and among the followup events planned was this presentation and conversation at Hartford Seminary.

Rev. Laney started the program with an overview of the Bible, explaining that it is a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over about 1,400 years. He compared it to a “really good sandwich” that has a lot of great ingredients. Another way to see it, he said, was as a “dance of storyteller, situation and Spirit.”

Christians see the Bible as the “Word” of God, he said, rather than as the “words” of God.

In his presentation, Prof. Ayoub said that the Qur’an, for Muslims, is literally a recitation from God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. But he added that the idea of the word of God is “far more complicated than the book we call the Qur’an.”

“The Qur’an entered the Muslim community, shaped it and was shaped by it,” he said.

Prof. Ayoub said that he sees the Qur’an as a pluralistic book that calls for Muslims to respect those who practice other faiths, although not all Muslims agree with him. A lively question and answer session followed the presentations.

For more information about Interfaith University, visit the Asylum Hill Congregational Church website.


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A very special evening celebrating the audiobook release of Prof. Miriam Therese Winter’s “The Singer and the Song: An Autobiography of the Spirit.”

The audiobook was narrated by acclaimed singer-songwriter Janis Ian, who won a Grammy for her own audiobook “Society’s Child.” Janis Ian also sings a selection of Prof. Winter’s songs on the recording.

First published in 1999, “The Singer and the Song” tells the remarkable story of Miriam Therese Winter, professor of Liturgy, Worship, Spirituality and Feminist Studies at Hartford Seminary.

Audible.com describes the book this way: “An award-winning musician and four-time Catholic Book Award-winner shares her experiences of becoming a Sister, working with starving children in Ethiopia and with refugees in Cambodia, of exploring the mysteries of India and the wonders of God in her own backyard, of having breast cancer and having hope. She also illumines new aspects of community, Eucharist, the word and spirit, water and the stars, spiritual blessedness, and much more.”

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Do Muslims believe in Jesus? What were the early Christian views of Jesus? How are the Christian and Muslim viewpoints different? How are they similar? Join Imam Adeel Zeb as he takes you back in time to the present, and to the eschatological future of Jesus Christ in Islam through Christology (study of Christ).

Imam Adeel Jehan Zeb is an American Spiritual leader, Muslim Chaplain, and public speaker. He serves as the Muslim Chaplain/Imam at Wesleyan University and Trinity College. He is the President and Co-Founder of DEEN: The Foundation for Muslim Campus Life. He has served as the Muslim Chaplain/Imam of American University in Washington, D.C. He has also served as a two-time U.S. Congressional staffer. He is a graduate of the Master’s in Islamic Chaplaincy program at Hartford Seminary. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Baylor University as well as a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Islamic Studies from Arees University in traditional Islamic sciences.
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A recording of a lecture given on October 10th, 201 by Dr. Abdulaziz  Sachedina, Professor and Endowed IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies in George Mason’s Department of Religious Studies. His books include “Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism” and “Islam & the Challenge of Human Rights.”

Dr. Sachedina has studied in India, Iraq, Iran and Canada and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has been conducting research and writing in the field of Islamic Law, Ethics, and Theology (Sunni and Shiite) for more than two decades. In the last ten years, he has concentrated on social and political ethics, including interfaith and interfaith relations, Islamic biomedical ethics, and Islam and human rights.

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A lecture by acclaimed scholar C.L. Seow, September 30, 2013.

Dr. Seow told the crowd that Job's wife is a controversial figure who has been viewed variously as a shrew and as a devoted companion. He traced the history of these interpretations through each religion, illustrating his points with the artwork of different time periods.
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Addressed to the City of Hartford.

The woman Babylon in the Book of Revelation has had more than her share of violence, both in the Christian Bible, as well as in the scholarly writings about her text. Having the name, “Babylon,” she is automatically negatively perceived before one gets a chance to know her. Yet the woman Babylon is so much more than her name. She is so much more than a female-gendered metaphor for a city - representing the Roman Empire - that will be overturned by God’s Empire. She just may be more akin to us than we would ever dare to imagine. By reading the woman Babylon’s text from a postcolonial womanist perspective, the Reverend Dr. Shanell T. Smith will highlight the woman Babylon’s simultaneous ambivalent identification as a “brothel slavewoman” and as an “empress/imperial city.” She will then discuss how the woman Babylon incites tension within her because she reflects ever so sharply her continual conflicting reality of being simultaneously a victim of, and participant in, empire. Certainly, by the looks of Hartford, she is not alone.

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A discussion between Mahmoud Ayoub, author of “A Muslim View of Christianity,” and Thomas F. Michel, author of “A Christian View of Islam.” The two longtime colleagues will share a dialogue about their respective books and the subject matter of how Christians view Islam and how Muslims view Christianity. Topics to be covered range from the need for dialogue, approaches to interreligious dialogue, Muslims and Christians in history, Muslim-Christian dialogue in the modern period, critical issues in Christian and Muslim theology, holiness in Christianity and Islam, and the Bible, the Qur'an and ecology.

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The history of the relationship between Sunnism and Shi’ism goes back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad. This long history will be surveyed with the goal of facilitating better understanding of the present day relations between Sunnism and Shi ‘ism. There also will be an account of the manipulation for political interests of Sunni-Shi’ite differences by forces both internal and external to the Islamic world. Finally, with consideration of both accord and discord that exists in different areas between Sunnism and Shi’ism, attention will be paid to the future of this relationship and the impact it is likely to have within the Islamic world itself and in its relation to the West.

The Willem A. Bijlefeld Lecture, named after the first director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, brings a distinguished scholar to campus for a public presentation on Islam or Christian-Muslim relations to promote interreligious understanding and mutual respect in the local, national and world communities.

Seyyed Hossain Nasr is University Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Nasr was born in Tehran, Iran in a family of educators and scholars. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied physics and mathematics, and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in the history of science and philosophy with specialization in Islamic cosmology and science.  From 1958 to 1979, he was a professor at Tehran University and for several years the dean of the Faculty of Letters and the vice chancellor of the University.  He also served as president of Aryamehr University in Iran.  In 1964-65, Dr. Nasr was the first Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut. In 1979 Dr. Nasr migrated to the United States where he became Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Utah, then Professor of Islamic Studies at Temple University. In 1984, he joined the faculty at George Washington University.

Dr. Nasr has lectured widely throughout the United States, Western Europe, most of the Islamic world, India, Australia and Japan.  He has given several major lectures such as the Azad Memorial Lecture in India, the Iqbal Lecture in Pakistan, the Charles Strong Memorial Lecture in Australia, the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Cadbury Lectures at Birmingham University in England.  Dr. Nasr is the author of more than fifty books and more than 500 articles.

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