Francis X. Clooney, SJ | Dec 15 2007 - 9:11am | 5 comments
Cambridge, MA. Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Jesuit of the New York Province, which I entered in 1968, at the old St. Andrew’s Novitiate, just north of Poughkeepsie. For over two decades I taught in the Theology Department at Boston College, a very wonderful educational and theological environment. In 2005, however, I accepted a position at Harvard University, in the Divinity School, where I teach Hinduism, Christian theology in light of Hinduism, and both in accord with the emerging field of Comparative Theology. I teach mostly graduate students, some of whom come over from Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion and Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, while occasionally a bright undergraduate comes my way. I’ve recently finished two book projects, one a Christian commentary on three medieval Hindu mantras -- brief prayers, words of worship and devotion -- and the other a comparative reflection on the ideal and practice of loving surrender to God as taught by St. Francis de Sales (1567-1623), a Doctor of the Church and by Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369), a great Hindu theologian of south India. Previously, I had written on the Blessed Virgin Mary and Hindu Goddesses, and edited a book in which eight Jesuits wrote about our research and why we do it. In my spare time, I also study the work of the Jesuit missionaries in India, back to the time of St. Francis Xavier and the great scholar and pioneer in dialogue, Roberto de Nobili. On weekends I help out in a small parish south of Boston. As I post my comments over the months to come, I will focus on things I care about: the meaning of Catholic identity in a world of many religions; being a Jesuit today; the world of Harvard, and how we learn from the marvels and puzzles the modern global university and its divinity school put before us; what I learn from the students of every religious background, and so too from the people of my parish; and perhaps I will offer some comments on recent books. But surely other issues and questions will arise along the way, with your advice too! Francis X. Clooney, S.J.