ICRS Course and Syllabus



CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL STUDIES OF RELIGION

Description:

That the student be able to deal with religious phenomena using cultural and historical theories and approaches through studying some of them. Theories are only discussed during the study of each phenomenon which is divided into two or three discussions. Six topics are selected for this purpose. In the introductory meeting chance will be dedicated to present religion as subject-matter of scientific inquiry.

HISTORY OF RELIGIONS IN INDONESIA

Description:

To provide an historical understanding analysis  on the ideographic   and   syntheses   explanations   of   the origin, growth, and  development of the  religions  in the  Indonesian society  and  culture from  the  past  to the  present, and  from the present to the past.

RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES PART, Topic: Violence and Religion and Gender

Description:

This is the first semester of a two semester required course for Ph.D. students in ICRS Area II, Religion and Contemporary Issues.  The focus of the course is on contemporary issues and the response of religious communities to these issues.  As stated in the ICRS Prospectus, this Area includes sociological, political and economic analysis of the role of religion in society, with special attention to the social ethics of different religious traditions.  Themes of particular interest include post-colonialism, globalization, justice, inter-religious dialogue, human rights, ecology, religion and science, gender, democracy, civil society, community development, conflict, violence and poverty.  Of course all these issues cannot be examined in the two required courses. 

In each semester the course will focus on one or two particular contemporary issues or topics.  The topics will change each semester and from year to year.  We will examine these topics with special attention to how different social theories help us to understand structural causes of the problems raised by the contemporary issue in question.  Our approach is not to present one correct theory, but rather to present different perspectives on social problems based on different theoretical ways of conceptualizing contemporary issues.  Our goal is to understand the social realities that give rise to the problem, as illuminated by the social sciences.

Social scientific understanding of contemporary issues is intended to illuminate the response of religious communities to these issues.  Religious communities are not outside, autonomous actors who can intervene at will.  Rather they are themselves a part of the contemporary issues in question.  They help create, defend, change and destroy the social structures that give rise to social problems.  In this regard, we examine religious responses to contemporary issues, not primarily as normative teaching or revelation, but rather as human communities who are both part of the problem and part of the solution.  We will consider moral and ethical teachings of different religions (especially Islam and Christianity) that are relevant to a particular contemporary issue with particular attention to the actual practices and influence of religious communities (past, present and future) on the issues in question.

The first semester in 2007 focuses on the contemporary issues of violence, religion and gender.  During this semester we will focus on the reality of violence and how it interacts with gender, how various theories (social, economic, political and cultural) help illuminate the historical and structural roots of violence.  We will also see how discourse analysis and Feminist theory illuminate problems of violence.  Religious teaching and practices are examined in the context of the social reality of violence with special attention to gender relations.  The second half of this course (January-May 2008), will continue the same approach with a different contemporary issue, but will pay greater attention to the social ethics of different religions.

PHILOSOPHICAL HERMENEUTICS

Description:

The primary question of this course is “whenever a reader is reading a text (including sacred texts), is s-/he immediately obtains meaning informed by the text or, on the other hand, the meaning is constructed by the reader her-/himself?”. This question is deeming important considering the reading activity is always open to the diversity of meaning production. The diversity of meaning, however, is not always approved for the sake of the continuity of tradition, in which it demands unity and consistency of narrative and textual meaning. Nevertheless, if the diversity of meaning is recognized as the inevitable condition of reading then it allows us to shift the attention to the causality of this diversity more than seeking the ultimate meaning of a text.

The course is an invitation for the students to look over carefully the causality of diverse meaning production in the linguistic level. There is an increasing awareness among the scholars to see the language is the origin of everything. This comprehension indeed is against the popular understanding, in which the language is portrayed as merely the representation of an object in the world. In this line of argument, it claimed that language is not autonomous and free from the object it represented. It is none other than a communication entity that connect the human, as the acquirer of knowledge, and the object of human interest. This understanding, however largely rebuked. Language is not merely a conveyance of knowledge but it is the knowledge as such. As the knowledge, or resource of knowledge, language is inherently different from an object. If an object is external to the human corporeality, language indwells in the human existence. In another word, by nature language is subjective.

Moreover, in this regard language is the mirror of interest of its community of users. It is this community that determines the meaning of a language. There is no language frees from the bond of community. Any kind of meaning conveyed from a language is in fact, the product of community. Is that by saying it, in consequence, there is no universal cognition? If so, how can people communicate to each other? Or, in another word, how a communication possible in considering the above "restriction" and subjectivity of language? Those questions are part of the issues being discussed in the classroom.

In the end, the students may arrive at the point of challenging all the former absolute claims regarding language and meaning production. They encouraged to position the language within the larger social dynamics rather than as an isolated self-regulating system as previously held. By so doing, the understanding of meaning as the outcome of textual reading could be ethically more accountable and socially sound.

GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP AND RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN MODERN HISTORY

Description:

This seminar course deals with the world religions in the era of modern history.  Globalization needs to be discussed in the term of transnational processes that deploy religions to refabricate their new communities.   Historically, as a guidance system for humankind, religions serve several functions. They operate moral ethic and spiritual models to behave their member’s attitudes in encountering to the challenge of life. In the doing this process, religions can appear becoming imperial force to provoke their claims for the truth.  Post cold war and the challenges of secularism have raised the revival of religious movements. Religious movements that are built on the truth claims of salvation can become a political devise to mobilize their followers to use violence for achieving their rights. Economic globalization and the reality of cyber-villages shape the loyalties of religions across the nation state boundaries to sharpen global divisions.

Globalization that pursues humankind to reach up a point of civilization should be able to inspire religious communities to transform their teaching and practicing that make possible for them to live newly in a context of cultural and religious pluralism.  Arriving at this point means also for religious communities to enable their appreciation and acknowledgment to other human’s religions without losing their allegiance to their own. Thus, the total religious history of humankind is entering a new phase.

Historically, this seminar course will identify the definition of global citizenship because the era of globalization provides many opportunities for religious communities to encounter and to become a world citizenship.  History is important because it helps us to see how the interaction of religious communities has been shaped since the past through current period. Religious communities construct their meaning according to the context of socio- cultural politic and sacred text of their religious traditions.

The aim of this seminar course is to answer the following question: to what extent religions contribute to the model of global citizenship and sustain for world coexistence and religious pluralism? Religions are not an isolated factor within heterogeneous histories of socio-cultural politic in their new world order. The benefit of this seminar course is to help the participants to become an expert in doing research in the field of transnational interfaith communities.

INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE AND THE AL-QUR'AN

Description:

A systematic and comprehensive discourse on several parts of the Gospel of Matthew in order to understand the Gospel narrative, and from there to (re) construct some theological thinking by engaging the texts in dialogue with the readers of the text, which consists of Christians and Muslims. It is an attempt to interpret the texts of the Gospel of Matthew in an interfaith context. A same scheme will be used to understand and analyze the Qur’an especially several verses that deal directly or indirectly with interfaith issues.

Because the participants are active readers of the texts, it is hoped that they will be aware of the complexity of the hermeneutical issue, i.e. to make interconnectedness between the past and the present. Even so, it is also hoped that in the end the reading will result in understanding, and this understanding may contribute to reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.

HISTORY OF RELIGIONS IN INDONESIA FROM 1900 TO THE PRESENT

Description:

The course aims to develop a common discourse between all ICRS-Yogya doctoral students about the relations between religious communities, especially in Indonesia since 1945.  A common discourse is not the same as agreement or a “master narrative”.  Given the great diversity of students’ academic and religious backgrounds our goal is a productive conversation, based on some shared understandings of the history of religions in Indonesia.

The course aims to help each student understand different narratives of experience of religions in Indonesia since Independence.  We assume that different religious communities have different assumptions about their place in Indonesian history that give rise to different, sometimes complementary and sometimes conflicting narratives about their community as part of Indonesian identity.

The course aims to help students define what are their questions about religions in Indonesia and then choose and apply appropriate theories and methods for finding out what they want to understand.

RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES PART  Topic: Religion and Violence in Indonesia with gender and peace perspectives

Description:

This is the first semester of a two semester required course for Ph.D. students in ICRS-Yogya Area II, Religion and Contemporary Issues.  The focus of the course is on contemporary issues and the response of religious communities to these issues.  As stated in the ICRS-Yogya Prospectus, this Area includes sociological, political and economic analysis of the role of religion in society, with special attention to the social ethics of different religious traditions.  Themes of particular interest include post-colonialism, globalization, justice, inter-religious dialogue, human rights, ecology, religion and science, gender, democracy, civil society, community development, conflict, violence, peace and poverty.  Of course all these issues cannot be examined in the two required courses. 

In each semester the course will focus on one or two particular contemporary issues or topics.  The topics will change each semester and from year to year.  We will examine these topics with special attention to how different social theories help us to understand structural causes of the problems raised by the contemporary issue in question.  Our approach is not to present one correct theory, but rather to present different perspectives on social problems based on different theoretical ways of conceptualizing contemporary issues.  Our goal is to understand the social realities that give rise to the problem, as illuminated by the social sciences.

Social scientific understanding of contemporary issues is intended to illuminate the response of religious communities to these issues.  Religious communities are not outside, autonomous actors who can intervene at will.  Rather they are themselves a part of the contemporary issues in question.  They help create, defend, change and destroy the social structures that give rise to social problems.  In this regard, we examine religious responses to contemporary issues, not primarily as normative teaching or revelation, but rather as human communities who are both part of the problem and part of the solution.  We will consider moral and ethical teachings of different religions (especially Islam and Christianity) that are relevant to a particular contemporary issue with particular attention to the actual practices and influence of religious communities (past, present and future) on the issues in question.

The first semester in 2008 focuses on the contemporary issue of violence in Indonesia.  During this semester we will focus on the reality of violence, how various theories (social, economic, political and cultural) help illuminate the historical and structural roots of violence.  Religious teaching and practices are examined in the context of the social reality of violence.  The second half of this course (January-May 2009), will continue the same approach with a different contemporary issue, but will pay greater attention to the social ethics of different religions.

CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL STUDIES OF RELIGION

Description:

The aims of the course are: (a) to give students some understandings on how religious phenomena have been studied by social scientists using various paradigms (approaches); (b) to give students some ideas on how new paradigms have been developed in the study of religion; (c) to give students some understandings about theories of religion and religious phenomena; (d) to encourage students to develop new paradigms or theories of religious phenomena; (e) to increase students ‘awareness on the possibility of understanding religion or religious phenomena from various perspectives, as well as the relativity of each perspective.

The course was designed on several assumptions. Firstly, paradigm is basically the core of science or scientific studies. Thus, every scientific study of religion must have been based on or started from a particular paradigm, and should be aimed – if possible – at developing new paradigm or establishing new theory. Secondly, students will have greater capability of building new paradigm or theory in study of religion if they have a comprehensive understanding of paradigms in religious studies. Thirdly, a comprehensive understanding of the way religion or religious phenomena have been studied will be obtained if students can analyze and compare various paradigms in the study of religion. Fourthly, course materials consisting of articles of religious studies using different kinds of approaches will help certainly students comprehending the paradigms.

HISTORY OF RELIGIONS IN INDONESIA PART I: PREHISTORY TO 1900

Description:

The course aims to develop a common discourse between all ICRS doctoral students about the relations between religious communities, especially in Indonesia from Pre-history until the early 20th Century.  A common discourse is not the same as agreement or a “master narrative”.  Given the diversity of students’ academic and religious backgrounds our goal is a productive conversation, based on some shared understandings of the history of religions in Indonesia. 

The course aims to help each student understand different narratives of experience of religions in Indonesia prior to Independence.  We assume that different religious communities have different assumptions about their place in Indonesian history that give rise to different, sometimes complementary and sometimes conflicting narratives about their community as part of Indonesian identity. 

The course aims to help students define what are their questions about religions in Indonesia and then choose and apply appropriate theories and methods for finding out what they want to understand.  The success of this doctoral seminar depends on active, critical and respectful interaction between the students regarding their research interests.

HISTORY OF RELIGION IN INDONESIA FROM c.1900 TO THE PRESENT

Description:

The course aims to develop a common discourse between all ICRS doctoral students about the relations between religious communities, especially in Indonesia since the early 20th Century. A common discourse is not the same as agreement or a “master narrative”. Given the great diversity of students’ academic and religious backgrounds our goal is a productive conversation, based on some shared understandings of the history of religions in Indonesia.

The course aims to help each student understand different narratives of the history of religions in Indonesia since the growth of nationalism in Indonesia. We assume that different religious communities have different assumptions about their place in Indonesian history that give rise to different, sometimes complementary and sometimes conflicting narratives about their community as part of Indonesian identity.

The course aims to help students define what are their questions about religions in Indonesia and then choose and apply appropriate theories and methods for finding out what they want to understand.

GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP AND RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN MODERN HISTORY

Description:

This seminar course deals with the world religions in the era of modern history.  Globalization is a transnational phenomenon that deploys religions to refabricate their new communities. Historically, as a guidance system for humankind, religions serve several functions. They operate moral ethic and spiritual models to behave their member’s attitudes in encountering to the challenge of life. In doing this process, religions can appear becoming imperial force to provoke their claims for the truth.  Post cold war and the challenges of secularism have raised the revival of religious movements. Religious movements that are built on the truth claims of salvation can become a political devise to mobilize their followers to achieve their rights. Economic globalization and the reality of cyber-villages shape the loyalties of religions across the nation state boundaries to sharpen global divisions.

Globalization that pursues humankind to reach up a point of civilization should be able to inspire religious communities to transform their teaching and practicing that envisions them to live newly in a context of cultural and religious pluralism. Arriving at this point means also for religious communities to enable their appreciation and acknowledgment to other human’s religions without losing their allegiance to their own. Thus, the total religious history of humankind is entering a new phase.

Historically, this seminar course will identify the definition of global citizenship because the era of globalization provides many opportunities for religious communities to become a world citizenship.  History is important because it helps us to see how the interaction of religious communities has been shaped since the past through current period. Religious communities construct their meaningful roles according to the context of socio- cultural politic that is inspired by the sacred texts of their religious traditions.

The aim of this seminar course is to answer the following question: to what extent religions contribute to the model of global citizenship and sustain for world coexistence and religious pluralism? Religions are not an isolated factor within heterogeneous histories of socio-cultural politic in their new world order. The benefit of this seminar course is to help the participants to become an expert in doing research in the field of transnational interfaith communities.

RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES: RELIGION AND POPULAR CULTURE

Description:

This graduate seminar is designed for ICRS students who come from diverse religious, cultural and social backgrounds. It will explore the influence of popular culture to religion and the other way around as can be observed in all parts of the world as well as on people’s daily practices in Indonesia.

In reading several theoretical perspectives concerning popular culture the class will examine religious expressions that are conveyed by popular culture through the phenomena that are not usually thought of as religious such as music, television shows, advertisements, comics, literatures, movies, fashions, and language. They are, at present, becoming the interests of most people and are able to create a kind of a new lifestyle where people find new alternatives in developing their spiritual life yet still can adhere to the faith that they claim. The aim of this is to see how popular culture operates through the way people doing things that are thought as religious.

Concerning the debates on the theoretical perspective of religion and culture, the course will not look at the fundamental question of ‘What is religion?’ or whether the one is sacred and the other is secular. It will particularly see how religion is constructed by a ‘cultural trend’ which is known as popular culture. In seeing the phenomena it will not only look mainly in the area of the main religions such as Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hindu and Buddha but also other religions that people may prefer to call it a local belief, such as ‘kejawen’.

A discussion on the issue concerning the end product of the religious message which is passed by popular culture to the public for the insiders and outsiders (people of the same faith and people of different faiths) might be another issue that will be worth to discuss.

RELIGION AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES PART: RELIGION AND POVERTY

Description:

The focus of the course is on contemporary issues and the response of religious communities to these issues.  As stated in the ICRS Prospectus, this Area includes sociological, political and economic analysis of the role of religion in society, with special attention to the social ethics of different religious traditions.  Themes of particular interest include post-colonialism, globalization, justice, inter-religious dialogue, human rights, ecology, religion and science, gender, democracy, civil society, community development, conflict, violence, peace and poverty.  Of course all these issues cannot be examined in the two required courses. 

In each semester the course will focus on one or two particular contemporary issues or topics.  The topics will change each semester and from year to year.  We will examine these topics with special attention to how different social theories help us to understand structural causes of the problems raised by the contemporary issue in question. Our approach is not to present one correct theory, but rather to present different perspectives on social problems based on different theoretical ways of conceptualizing contemporary issues.  Our goal is to understand the social realities that give rise to the problem, as illuminated by the social sciences.

Social scientific understanding of contemporary issues is intended to illuminate the response of religious communities to these issues.  Religious communities are not outside, autonomous actors who can intervene at will. Rather they are themselves a part of the contemporary issues in question. They help create, defend, change and destroy the social structures that give rise to social problems.  In this regard, we examine religious responses to contemporary issues, not primarily as normative teaching or revelation, but rather as human communities who are both part of the problem and part of the solution.  We will consider moral and ethical teachings of different religions (especially Islam and Christianity) that are relevant to a particular contemporary issue with particular attention to the actual practices and influence of religious communities (past, present and future) on the issues in question.

COMPARATIVE INTERPRETATION OF SACRED TEXTS

Description:

This course will facilitate the students into a critical introduction, historical development and detailed study of Hermeneutics and how it is applied in reading and interpreting written text including Sacred Texts. This includes a critical examination of traditional hermeneutics, modern hermeneutics and new hermeneutics, and identify the strength and weakness of each of them. The study encompasses not just issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that impact communication, such as presuppositions, preunderstandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics (Ferguson). Along with this, the students will be encouraged to find and identify reasons for different reading and understanding (interpretation) of a text. Each student will do a critical study of particular topic or subject assigned or chosen at the beginning of the class and what it means for faith and life today.

INTERPRETATION OF SACRED TEXTS: MAKING SENSE OF VIOLENT TEXTS IN THE SCRIPTURES

Description:

The Dilemma

More and more adherents of religions in Indonesia are arriving into a common awareness, that violence is detrimental to the well-being of the world. For Christians who belong to the World Council of Churches (WCC), the first decade of the 21st century is dedicated to overcome violence, and churches that belong to this body have to implement this decision in their annual programs. As a member of WCC, Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja di Indonesia (PGI, Eng: “Indonesian Communion of Churches”) also has a similar program. Every member-churches of PGI has also similar programs, which may include the struggle to eliminate domestic violence, violence in educational institutions, communal violence, and even structural violence, i.e. violence inherent in human relationship: man and woman; human beings and the other living beings; human beings and nature. Non-violence has become the norm, which is not surprising, as the life of Jesus Christ is seen as a life of non-violence.

The problem for the adherent of religions in Indonesia is how to relate this conviction with scriptural texts which refer to violence as a means of dealing with other people, or even violence as a means of God in dealing with human beings. One way out is to ignore or dismiss these texts as irrelevant for our contemporary needs. But ignored or dismissed texts tend to become precisely reference texts in situations of crisis, as has been the experience of church members in the areas of conflict between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, Poso and Halmahera at the end of the 20th century. Religious people may abhor violence and embrace non-violence in imitation of Gandhi, but at the same time, like Gandhi, unwilling to break the structures that preserve violence (i.e. the castes), as they are convinced that these structures are divinely ordered. In many religious discourses, violence is regarded in a negative way, but on the other hand, punishment, in particular, divine punishment, is seen in a positive way, as violence that makes sense.

It is this dilemma which we are going to explore in this course. How can these text of violence in the sacred scriptures be reconciled with non-violence as one of the significant norms in our life as religious people?

Description, method and aim

A systematic and comprehensive discourse on the interpretation of certain texts in the Hebrew Bible (The Old Testament), which refers to violence as a means in dealing with other people, and violence as a means of God in dealing with other people. The method is to let the students struggle seriously with these texts, and the aim is that they come out of this struggle with a clear conscience.

RELIGION, POLITICS AND IDENTITY

Description:

The graduate seminar on Religion, Politics and Identity is designed for ICRS students who come from diverse religious, cultural as well as tertier educational backgrounds. It will examine and explore how religions, politics and identity have been in intensive interactions and influenced one another in complex modes, both by design and incidentally. Due to the complexity and variety of intertwined religious and political doctrines and events we are facing with, the present seminar will only focus on a number of selected issues, location and period to make the cases. The seminar will highlight that religious doctrines, political ideas and thought as well as people’s identity formation and attachments are developed within particular contexts of space and time in human’s history; and therefore having knowledge and awareness of these subtle relations of religion, politics and identity formation is mandatory for concerned scholars.

INTERPRETATION OF SACRED TEXTS: GOD, NATURE AND SCRIPTURE

Description:

Description, method and aim

To many Christians, descriptions of nature in the Bible is familiar to them through the concept of creation. Through passages in the Bible, for instance, the narrative of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:25, Psalm 104, and the revelation of God in the theophanies (divine appearances) of nature in the end of the book of Job, they developed an understanding of God as creator and the world as creatures. So nature (sometimes human beings are included in it, sometimes not) is creation, and commonly when Christians talk about nature, for them it is identical with creation. Nevertheless, in some of the biblical passages themselves natural phenomenon is often described outside the framework of a creation concept, implying that beside the biblical discourse of creation, there is also a similar but different (in Indonesian : “serupa tetapi tak sama”) biblical discourse of nature, and we will focus our attention to this discourse, but of course without neglecting the other biblical discourse.

The reason of focusing on this similar but different discourse is the rise of the increasingly urgent problems concerning ecological destructions, which is happening globally, and natural disasters, which may be caused by ecological destructions (for instance innundations), or because of the shrinking of the earth’s crust which impact is blown up in the movie 2012, or the slow but constant shifting of the shelves, which formed the global “ring of fire”, which are responsible for the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions . Frequently we hear scientific explanations why disasters in Indonesia suddenly increases in the beginning of 21st century, based on these explanations. But of course, either because of familiarity with biblical stories of natural disasters, for instance the Flood-Story in Genesis 6-9 and the destruction of the cities Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18), many Christians in Indonesia (but I think also non-Christians, for instance, Muslims) will also give a religious explanation and meaning to disasters. These religious explanations are commonly termed as theodicy, and beside creation and nature, theodicy will also become a key word in our course.

Traditionally, discussions on God, creation and nature are held in looking at the meaning of revelation. It is common in Christian theology to distinguish between natural revelation and scriptural revelation. The first is more universal and the second is more particular. But sometimes universal revelation is also used to denote nature as a vehicle of revelation to human beings in general, and scriptural revelation is also used to denote a particular group of people, for instance, Israel, or Jesus, as a special or even absolute vehicle of revelation. From there frequently also we hear the difference between revelation in nature and revelation in history. In the Protestant tradition (not all) the emphasis is more on scriptural, particular, special and historical revelation, while in the Catholic tradition (again not all) the emphasis is more on the natural, universal, general revelation. That is why in the Catholic tradition God can be known both from reflections on the Scripture and Tradition (Theology) and from study of nature and its contents, including human thinking (Philosophy). To avoid making an antithesis of these positions, it is important also to stress that in the history of theology, there are Catholics whose theology are biblically based and there are Protestants whose theology are based on nature, and such is called “natural theology”.

In the modern period, discussions concerning creation and nature are focused on the relationship between faith and the (modern) natural sciences. While there are still groups of Christians who defend the scientific basis of the creation stories in the Bible, and insist that this scientific basis has to be integrated within the modern natural sciences which is considered as being in conflict with faith, the official stand of the Catholic church and the consensus in the Protestant denominations globally tend to reconcile faith and science, either by making a synthesis between these two positions, or by giving each of them an independent position. In my opinion, the fourth position, which is trying to integrate these two positions in the spirit of postmodernity rather than modernity, is still in the making. The debate is akin to what is commonly seen in the topic of relationship between religion and science. From the first position, namely science under religion, people move to the opposite relationship, religion under science, and it is still difficult to get to the third position, religion and science side by side and integrated.

For our purpose, we will focus more particularly on the texts of creation and nature in both the Sacred Scriptures in relation to the problems raised by the ecological destructions and natural disasters. So our theme God, Nature and Scripture can also be extended to become God, Nature, Scripture, Ecology and Disaster. Of course in the running of the course we cannot avoid discussing the problems of types of revelation and relationship between faith and science, but we will regard them as side-interests and not the main interest.   

With regard to Islamic perspective, attention will be paid to the issues surrounding the affinity of nature and the Quran—from both historical and theological point of views. This aims at twofold goals. The first is to discover the way in which nature played a role in shaping vocabularies in the Quran, which preserves events related to natural phenomena and disasters e.g. flood, volcanic eruption, earthquake, and the end of the day.

In fact, the portrayal of natural phenomena employed by the Quran somehow influences the way in which theology is formulated in the early and later Muslim scholarship. Looking at the Scripture closely, the vocabularies in the Scripture take metaphors, similes, and analogies from natural phenomena in describing the conducts of man in the world and Hereafter. For instance, natural catastrophe is often regarded as punishment, whereas natural fortune, e.g. fertile land and wide ocean, as bounty of God. God, man, and nature are three elements which played a vital role in Islamic theology.

The second goal is to investigate the history of natural events told and preserved in the Quran. In this regard, we learn how the Scripture records the changes of natures. Nature is seen from the perspective of the Scripture, which alarm the readers to conduct in certain ways in line with natural demands. In this vein, the Quran is treated as document of natural events and accidents.

The Qur’an records natural catastrophes at least in three ways. First it retells the Biblical stories, which were prevalently known by the Arabs at the time of the revelation of the Quran. Second it records the local Arabic history which casts a great impact upon the audience who will pay attention to the messages conveyed by the Quran. Third the Scripture tells us the natural phenomena occurring at the time of revelation. The Scripture in this vein served as witness to the changes of nature in the Hijazi landscape and beyond.

Bear in mind that the Qurán also makes analogy between the current world and the world to come. Punishment and reward received by those who conduct evil or good in the world to come are portrayed by natural phenomena. Hell and paradise are described by words coming from nature, consisting of fertility, barren land, thunder, earthquake,  and rain. For sure, nature, and analogies borrowed from natural phenomena, shapes theology, as no man can imagine something beyond nature. Nature helps human to imagine what is beyond nature. Nature becomes the measurement of the way one can imagine what happen before this world and after this world.

RELIGION AND IDENTITY

Description:

The focus of the course on Religion and identity is to explore how individual and cultural identities are shaped and communicated. This course helps students to understand the variety of identities in social realm including religion, race, class, age and gender expression. The questions raised are: what is identity especially related with religion? What are cultural and historical aspects of identity related to the construction of religion in day-to-day social life? How history, culture and politics play important roles in the relation between identity and religion? And how perception about ‘space’ influences the way people identify themselves with religion.

The objectives of this course are to deepen the awareness and strengthen the understanding on historical and cultural aspects of identity, especially related to religious phenomena. It is expected also that the students will gain critical thinking in looking at the different forms of identity.

RELIGION AND CIVIL SOCIETY

Description:

This course will examine some of the ways through which the states and civil society are developed within the areas of political studies as well as religious studies. Human’s history has witnessed the fluctuating, varied, as well as ambiguous relationships between religion and state in different places and at different ages. Secularism that was once thought to be the best and final answer to the practices of statehood has now recently being challenged as the role of religion resurge again albeit in diverse tone and expressions.  On the other hand however religion has been used by people to challenge the tend-to dominate and corrupt power- of the states. Thus religions must have some teachings that would encourage their followers to form a contending civil power to the states.

This seminar doctoral class is a student-centered. Students are the main subjects for this learning process while lecturers facilitate portions of lectures on the issues under concern as to stimulate further discussion.  It is expected that the course will enhance students’ theoretical knowledge about the relationships between religion, state and civil society. By having such understanding students might be able to contribute positively to the development of civil society to create peace and justice within their own community.

CLASSICAL THEORIES FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION IN INDONESIA

Description:

Primary goals of the course:

1. Introduce ICRS students to, and deepen their understanding of, major classic theories in the social scientific study of religions. 

2.  Show students how these theories are used by Indonesian and other scholars to interpret the historical realities of religions in Indonesia (and Asia), as well as understand the influence of these theories on Indonesian self understanding. 

3.  Provide ICRS students, who are from different academic backgrounds, with a common field of discourse that will facilitate communication across disciplines. 

RELIGION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Description:

It is often said that human rights are universal principles, which stand tall and firm amid the struggle to attain human dignity. However, the principle and practice of human rights have been a subject of fierce criticism for being a Western invention, ideologically leaning toward liberalism and more pointedly based on secular worldview. This doctoral seminar examines the interconnectivity and interplay between religion and human rights.

It will critically assess human rights as a normative value from the religious lenses, and see the linkages between the foundations of human rights and the existing religious texts, thoughts and practices. The doctoral seminar will delve into how various religious traditions, which deal with problems, dilemmas and issues such as cultural relativism, freedom of religion, conversion and apostasy, abortion, sexual preferences, circumcision, etc.

INTERPRETATION OF SACRED TEXTS: RELIGION AND POLITICS IN SACRED TEXTS

Description:

What is politics? Defining politics is a precarious thing, as its scope is as wide as can be imagined.  Many Christians or church members in Indonesia takes the traditional view in which politics is placed in an antithetical stance to religion. Politics is about “worldly matters”, while religion is about “heavenly matters”. In reality, even if they say that they are a-political, in the end they are often the very first to acknowledge their affiliation with certain political parties of movements, while others who are decidedly political, precisely because of this political awareness, are more hesitant or careful in their political decisions. After the “Reformation” in 1998, the trend changes. Almost all Christians are suddenly very political, and many church leaders or pastors aspires to become involved in politics, i.e. to become members of political parties, and even candidates for the people’s representative or the parliament, both in the local areas and in the center. Othiers stay away from practical politics, but are still heavily interested in what is going on in the public sphere, and it now not unusual to hear from the pulpit, pastors who has no political affiliations, but go on commenting on the policies of the government for instance, especially on topics which make many Christians in Indonesia  angry, such as the closing of many mission outposts by local governments,  and the infamous case of GKI Yasmin in Bogor.

All of these people, whether they are political or not, takes their legitimation from the Biblical texts. In theological schools, politics are discussed in the subject “Political/Social Ethics”, or “Public Theology”. And of course, here the great names in theology such as Yoder, Barth and Metz are mentioned, together with their interpretations of the biblical texts.  But our description, method and aim will be more simple: we will go directly to some texts in the New Testament, and see what  Jesus,  Paul  and John of the Apocalypse has commented in matters relating to politics or public matters.  Of course we will check some commentaries, and we cannot prevent from sometimes going back to some of the names above, but what we will do is to read the texts in the English Bible (here the NRSV) and try to struggle with them. It means we will not primarily use these texts as “proof” or legitimation of our view on politics, although that also is sometimes very obvious, but we will learn from them.  From the course on hermeneutics  (By prof. Hamamah and Dr. Setio) in the previous semester, it is clear that learning from ancient texts also means to be critical to some extent to these texts, although on the whole, we still highly appreciate these texts as sacred texts.

In the above courses on politics in theological schools, many texts which are to be discussed are taken from the Old Testament, with the assumption that the Old Testament is more “political”, or more “worldly” than the New Testament. This assumption could be contested, depending on how we understand the term “politics”.  Even if it is true to some extent that the New Testament is more “spiritual”, it does not mean that there are no relation between religion and politics in these collection of Gospels and Letters.  The Christian’s Bible is consisted of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, but for the purpose of this course we will use only the New Testament, so that we can learn from the early Christians how they relate their faith to public matters in  their time.

RELIGION & THE STATE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Description:

Every since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the “state” has been evolving from its most basic structures to the more modern and systematic institution that have far reaching impacts on the lives of societies throughout the world. In the contemporary world, the state is the foremost viable unit in international relations. With the concept sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention, the state in realist perspective becomes the ‘be all, end all’ that defines global interaction among nations.

Unlike during the medieval period—where religion and the state were almost inseparable—, the state has for the most part been secularized. Being a byproduct of the enlightenment era, the state in many parts of the world has undoubtedly shied away from religion, and taken a secular route in managing state and political affairs. This has inadvertently resulted in major disenchantment from among those who believe that religion should play a stronger role in public affairs and foreign policy.

This doctoral seminar will critically examine the difficult relationship between religion and the state, with special focus and emphasis on the Southeast Asian nations, notably Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It will delve into the interplay between religion and the state as well as the political discourses behind the construction of both the history and current reality of the region’s nations.