Events

Lecture by Rabbi Prof Naftali Rothenberg on Monday June 12 at 5.00 pm in Regent’s Park College, Oxford

Lecture by Rabbi Prof Naftali Rothenberg:

Love Philosophy & Praxis in the Teachings of Rabbi Akiva

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A lecture for ‘The Study of Love in Religion’ (sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation)
Monday June 12 at 5.00 pm in Regent’s Park College, Oxford OX1 2LB

Rabbi Akiva was one of the greatest sages of the Mishnaic period, if not the greatest.  His legendary figure, leadership, halakhic method and thought occupy a central place throughout the rabbinic literature redacted over a period of centuries. The image of Rabbi Akiva that the Mishnah and Talmud present is that of the sage of love par excellence, with far-reaching implications regarding the place of the wisdom of love in the Jewish canon as a whole.

He first appeared in a love story in the legends; rescued the quintessential love song, Song of Songs from oblivion; developed an entire philosophy—and practice—of marital harmony; saw love between man and woman as a sacred perfection of body, mind and spirit; asserted that “love your fellow as yourself” is the great principle from which all morality derives; preached love for all who were created in God’s image; and fulfilled the commandment to love God with every fibre of his being, loving Him with all his heart, soul and might, even when all was taken from him—an expression of love to the last breath. His ideas, theories and praxis laid a foundation for the study of the wisdom of love.

 

Naftali Rothenberg is a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, and has published extensively on love in Jewish canonical literature. His forthcoming book: Rabbi Akiva’s Philosophy of Love will be published during summer 2017 by Palgrave-Macmillan. The book was completed in two winter-periods in the programme of ‘Law and Religion’ and the Project of ‘Love in Religion’ at Regent’s Park College at Oxford.

 

Book launch and discussion at Waterstones, London – Piccadilly on 27 March, 7-8.30pm.

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We are very pleased to announce that Prof. HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and Prof. Paul Fiddes will be both be speaking at an event to mark the launch of Prince Ghazi’s new book, A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam: The Essence of Islam in Twelve Verses from the Quran.

The discussion will be chaired by Rev’d Timothy Ditchfield and Romana Kazmi, both chaplains at King’s College London, and will take place at the Piccadilly branch of Waterstones bookshop in London.

Both speakers will be addressing the subject of love from their respective faith traditions, and there will be opportunities to find out more about the work of the Project for the Study of Love in Religion.

Please join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening.

Tickets cost £5 (redeemable against a copy of the book on the night) and are available online, by telephone 020 7851 2400 or by email: events.piccadilly@waterstones.com

International Consultation on ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’

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The International Consultation on ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’ was held at Regent’s Park College, on 9-12 November 2016, with generous support from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Project’s purpose of this consultation was to bring together leading scholars from a
variety of disciplinary and religious backgrounds to identify the cutting-edge issues within the topic of love in religion (for a full list of our speakers, respondents, and the papers presented at the consultation please see below). As well as identifying the cutting-edge issues in the field, we also aimed to encourage scholars of different faiths to work together in furthering the study of love in religion and to enable them to build international, interdisciplinary and multi-faith networks. One aspect of this collaboration was to sensitise scholars to the underlying assumptions and pressing questions in others’ faith traditions.

The consultation consisted in an introductory evening session followed by two full days of presentations and discussion. During the introductory evening three members, past and present, of the Project for the Study of Love in Religion at Regent’s Park College gave overviews of trends and tensions within literature on love in religion. This helped set the framework within which discussions would take place over the next two days. During the evening’s discussion participants suggested additions to the Project’s annotated bibliography, thus broadening the input to the bibliography.

Over the course of the consultation, each speaker offered their thoughts on what the cutting-edge issues are in the field of love in religion. The format of multiple short papers allowed for extremely rich and varied approaches to the topic to be covered comfortably within the time allowed, and generated animated and wide-ranging debates, both in between papers and in the final round-table session.

Ten central questions emerged from the papers and discussions:

  1. In what sense is love cognition?
  2. Where does love fit into virtue ethics – or into the formation of character through virtues and practices?
  3. How is love (including desire) related the divine will?
  4. How can love connect with science, as different accounts of relationality?
  5. What is the relation between love and vulnerability? Can love re-imagine/ re-mythologize vulnerability, taking it out of the association with violence?
  6. How does the mystical experience of love as detachment from the world cohere with loving God through the world?
  7. Is it possible to talk about love without paying attention to the political context? Does praxis of love always imply politics?
  8. How is the human agency of loving related to the divine agency of loving?
  9. How does the embodiment of love differ between Christianity, Judaism and Islam?
  10. Can we even begin to discuss love without agreeing on a common anthropological framework first, or can we work meaningfully with a variety of anthropologies?

These questions will be central to the ongoing work of the Project for the Study of Love in Religion…watch this space!

This consultation was extremely positive for the Project, as it generated questions for further research as well as creating links between scholars and institutions. We have also received positive feedback from the participants, with one speaker commenting that it had been one of the best conferences she had ever attended. We hope that the links established through this consultation will continue to grow strong and bear fruit.

The Project is grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for its support of this consultation, to the staff at Regent’s Park College who helped the event run smoothly and extended a warm welcome to all our guests, and to all our participants who contributed their time and expertise to further the study of love in religion.

List of speakers, respondents, and papers presented:

Speakers:

Prof HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, Professor of Islamic Philosophy and Personal Envoy and Special Advisor on Religious and Cultural Affairs to H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan: untitled paper

Prof Robert Adams, Clark Professor of Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics, Emeritus, Yale University: ‘Devotion to God, Neighbor-Love, and Detachment, in Religion’

Prof. Pamela Sue Anderson, Professor of Modern European Philosophy of Religion, University    of Oxford, and Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy, Regent’s Park College: ‘Love (Law) and Vulnerability (Violence): Two Love Commandments and one God in the (Abrahamic) Religions’

Dr Deborah Casewell, Teaching Fellow in Systematic and Philosophical Theology, Kings College London (presenting a paper by Oliver Davies, Professor of Theology, Dept. of Theology and Religious Studies, KCL): ‘Love in Religion’: The ‘Frontier Issues’

Dr Minlib Dallh, H. M. King Abdullah ibn al-Hussein II of Jordan Fellow for the Study of Love in Religion, Regent’s Park College: ‘Forgotten but not Lost: Women Mystics in Islam’ and an overview of the dominant trends in the study of love within the mystical traditions of Islam based on the interim literature review.

Dr Fiona Ellis, Reader, Heythrop College, University of London: ‘Love in religion: the question of desire’

Prof Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford; Principal Emeritus and Director of Research, Regent’s Park College. ‘“God is love: love is God”. A cutting-edge issue for the theology of love’

Imam Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari, Director, The Karimia Institute, Nottingham: ‘Putting the love of God into practice through the development of moral and spiritual intelligence: Actualising the transformative power of Divine love’

Prof Werner Jeanrond, Master of St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford: ‘Love in Religion: Towards a Hermeneutics of Love’

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire. ‘Love in Religion Bibliography: Interim Report’, an overview of the dominant trends in the study of love within Christian theology and philosophy based on the interim literature review.

Dr Eleanor McLaughlin, Research Assistant for the ‘Love in Religion’ Project, Regent’s Park College, Oxford. ‘Tensions observed in research on Love in Religion’, based on the interim literature review.

Prof Melissa Raphael, Professor of Jewish Theology, University of Gloucestershire and Leo Baeck College, London: ‘Idoloclastic Love: Modern Jewish Theology and the One Heart of Flesh’

Dr Lydia Schumacher, Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh: Love in Religion: ‘A Virtue Epistemology’

Imam Dr Mohammad A. Shomali, Director, The International Institute for Islamic Studies, Qom, Iran and Director, The Islamic Centre of England (London). Reflections on Love in Islamic Theology and Spirituality’

Prof Nancy Snow, Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, Oklahoma University: ‘Love in Religion’

Dr Brandon Warmke, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University: ‘Resenting Those You Love’

Professor Paul Weller, Professor in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, and Research Fellow in Religion and Society, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford: ‘Love in Religion: A Few Reflections and Considerations’

 

Respondents:

Dr Michael J. Murray, Senior Vice President, Programs, John Templeton Foundation

Dr Shirin Shafaie, Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies (Oxford), and Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Dr Martin Whittingham, Academic Director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford and Research Fellow, Regent’s Park College, Oxford.

Dr Nick Wood, Director of Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, University of Oxford

 

 

The Language of the Human and the Language of Love

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The Language of the Human and the Language of Love: A Dialogue Between Neuroscience and Religion was held at Regent’s Park College on the 15th of October 2016. This colloquium was part of a two-day event held jointly by King’s College London and the Project for the Study of Love in Religion. (For a full list of the speakers, respondents, and papers given over the two days, see below.)

On Friday, 14th October, members of the Project joined colleagues at Somerset House in London for a day’s study entitled Understanding the Human: A New Dialogue Between Science and the Humanities, organised by Oliver Davies, co-investigator on the Project. The day’s discussions centred round the links between science, in particular neuroscience, and ideas commonly examined within the humanities: creativity, self-reflection, and altruism, to name but a few. The focus of the event’s first day was to reflect on how discussion between science and the humanities can help us understand what it is to be human.

When many of the same scholars met again in Oxford the following day, the focus shifted to the relationship between neuroscience and love, with speakers addressing the question ‘What can neuroscience, anthropology, and religion tell us about love?’

The day’s often animated discussion threw light on the problems surrounding the definition of the term ‘love’. Love is, for some, linked to reasoning, while for others the most important part of the definition of love is its connection to freedom. The colloquium also provided some possible paths for further investigation in this area:

  1. The ways in which different religions command or invite their adherents to love could be further investigated, to find out whether differences in the way in which love is commanded/suggested/invited leads to differences in how love is understood.
  1. Prof. Kwok Kai Luen’s contribution pointed to ideas about self-love within a community, leading to questions such as: how do we imagine ourselves to conform to groups to which we want to belong, and how much are we prepared to change about ourselves in the quest to conform to others? This question of self-love within a group, and how love of the group or desire to be part of the group may clash with self-love wasn’t developed at the colloquium but would be interesting to follow up from perspectives of neuroscience, anthropology, and theology.
  1. The question of whether love features more predominantly in the Mirror Neuron System or the Social Neuron Network, as described by Prof. Kai Vogeley, or of whether it could be said that love lies in the connection between the two could be investigated further, in tandem with Prof. Oliver Davies’ idea of convergence between the advanced linguistic consciousness and pre-thematic consciousness.

List of speakers, respondents, and papers presented on Friday 14th of October 2016 at Somerset House:

Speakers:

Agustín Fuentes (Prof. of Anthropology, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame): ‘Interlacing evolution, epigenetics, creativity and diversity in understanding being and becoming human’

Kai Vogeley  (Prof. of Psychiatry,  Dept. of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne):  ‘Neural Mechanisms of Intersubjectivity’

Adam Zeman (Prof. of Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Exeter): ‘The Mind in the Brain – Understanding Consciousness’

Anthony David (Prof. and Vice-Dean Academic Psychiatry, IoPPN, KCL) ‘Self-Reflection in Medical and Psychiatric Disorders’

Prof. Oliver Davies (Prof. in Christian Doctrine, King’s College London): ‘Towards an Integrated Theory of the Human’

Respondents:

Fiona Bowie (Theology and Religious Studies, KCL)

Deborah Casewell (Theology and Religious Studies, KCL)

John Clifton (Theology and Religion Studies, KCL, and Salvation Army)

Minlib Dallh (Fellow for the Study of Love in Religion, Regent’s Park College,
University of Oxford)

Juliana Dresvina (Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of Oxford)

Paul Fiddes (Prof. of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford, Director of ‘Love in Religion’ Project, Regent’s Park College, Oxford)

Daniel De Haan (Faculty of Divinity and Dept. of Psychology, University of Cambridge)

Claire Foster Gilbert (KCL and Director, Westminster Abbey Institute)

Francesca Happé (Director MRC, IoPPN)

Wendy James (Prof. of Anthropology, University of Oxford)

Paul Joyce (Samuel Davidson Chair of Old Testament, Theology and Religious Studies, KCL)

Carool Kersten (Islamic Studies, KCL)

Kwok Wai Luen (Dept. of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University)

Yves de Maesenaar (Theology, KU Leuven)

Eleanor McLaughlin (Research Assistant, Love in Religion Project, Regent’s Park
College, University of Oxford)

Dawid Potgieter (Program and communications officer, Templeton World Charity Foundation)

David Shankland (Director, Royal Anthropological Institute)

Phoebe Thompson (Sir Richard Trainor Fellow, KCL)

Harry Walker (Anthropology, LSE)

Jonathan Welch (Lincoln’s Inn)

List of speakers, respondents, and papers presented on Saturday 15th of October 2016 at Regent’s Park College:

Speakers:

Agustín Fuentes (Prof. of Anthropology, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame): ‘Imagination, cooperation, and the human niche: the emergence of religious belief in human evolution’

Prof. K. Vogeley  (Prof. of Psychiatry,  Dept. of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne):  ‘Diversity of Social Cognition’

Prof. A. Zeman (Prof. of Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Exeter): ‘Consciousness, Imagery, Self’

Prof. Oliver Davies (Prof. in Christian Doctrine, King’s College London): ‘Learning Mystical Presence: Mystical Texts of Love as Intimate Hyper-Communication across Time’

Responses by  Prof. Paul S. Fiddes (Prof. of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford, Director of ‘Love in Religion’ Project, Regent’s Park College, Oxford) and Prof. Pamela Sue Anderson (Prof. of Modern European Philosophy, University of Oxford)

Prof. Kwok Wai Luen (Hong Kong Baptist University): ‘Comparative love in China: the reception of Confucian love by Christians and Muslims’

 

Respondents:

Dr Deborah Casewell (Lecturer in Theology, Kings College London)

Dr Minlib Dallh (Fellow for the Study of Love in Religion, Regent’s Park College,
University of Oxford)

Dr Martin Grassi (Professor of Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Religion,
Catholic University of Argentina)

Dr Eleanor McLaughlin (Research Assistant, Love in Religion Project, Regent’s Park
College, University of Oxford)

Prof. Constantine Sandis (Prof. of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire)

Dr Donovan Schaefer (Research Fellow, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion,
University of Oxford)

Dr Ignacio Silva (Research Fellow, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University
of Oxford)

Dr Bethany Sollereder (Research Coordinator, Materials Department, University of Oxford)

Prof. Mark Williams (Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of
Oxford and former Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre)

 

 

Love in Classical Islamic Texts

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Love in Classical Islamic Texts: A Day Consultation held in Oxford on 5 December 2016.

This small colloquium around love in Classical Islamic texts provided a unique opportunity for conversation and fellowship. At the centre of the day’s activities were four presentations. The first three centred on love as it appears in three specific Classical Islamic texts, with the fourth drawing out some ideas for further reflection. (See programme below.)

Our speakers were:

HRH Prof Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan.

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway, King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein Integral Chair for the Study of Imam  Al-Ghazali’s Work at the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Quds University.

Prof Dr Farouk Hasan, King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein Integral Chair for the Study of Imam Al-Razi’s Work at the King Hussein bin Talal Mosque, the University of Jordan and WISE University.

Dr Minlib Dallh, King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein Fellow for the Study of Love in Religion, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford.

It was the first time that the Oxford-based research team, HRH Prince Ghazi, and the two scholars from Jerusalem and Amman had had the opportunity to meet and share ideas. All the participants found both the formal presentations and the informal conversations around shared questions informative and immensely fruitful.

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies kindly hosted us for the morning seminar. We were warmly welcomed by the Director, Dr Farhan Ahmad Nizami, Prof. J. Mark Halstead, and Dr Talal Al-Azem. We then moved to Regent’s Park College, where the Project for the Study of Love in Religion is based, for lunch, our afternoon seminar, and more time for discussion over dinner. 

After presentations on love in the writings of Al-Ghazali, Fakr Al-Din Al-Razi, and Sufi women mystics, in particular Sayyida Al-Manubiya, the discussion turned towards what it means to ‘know’ God, and whether love can be said to be a kind of knowledge. HRH Prince Ghazi suggested that love should be seen as common ground for discussion and collaboration, but that it is often viewed only as the lowest common denominator and thus its value is removed, or ignored. Another question which arose in the group discussion was whether in every form of love, be it love for another human person or love for God, there is an element of yearning or desire. These questions will continue to be explored in the work of the Project.

We look forward to strengthening the ties created by this colloquium between Oxford, Jerusalem, and Amman, and between our project and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Programme:

Day Consultation
Love in Classical Islamic Texts
5 October 2016

Morning session at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, by kind invitation

10.00 am   Love in the Writings of Imam Al-Ghazali
By Prof. Dr Mustafa Abu Sway

10.45 am  Discussion

11.00   Coffee break

11.20 am    Love in the Writings of  Imam Fakr Al-Din Al-Razi
By Prof. Dr Farouk Hasan

12.05-12.30 pm  Discussion


Afternoon session at Regent’s Park College, Oxford (Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture)

2.15 pm     Love in the Writings of Some Sufi Women Mystics
By Dr Minlib Dallh

2.45 pm     Discussion: Al-Ghazali, Razi, Sufism and Love

3.30 pm    Tea break

4.00 pm     Reflections by HRH Prof. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and concluding discussion.

6.30 pm     Dinner in Regent’s Park College, Oxford

 

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