Professor Timothy Cahill
Loyola University, New Orleans

Dear Frank,

Thanks very much for your interest in what's going on down here at Loyola University, New Orleans. I'll be brief in describing our department's commitment to interreligious dialogue, comparative religion and the relationship of both these to contemporary theology. (More experienced members of our faculty can describe these things better than I can, and I'm sure some of them will be in touch.)

We require all students at Loyola University to take our Introduction to World Religions. This is something of a show-piece requirement since it's my understanding that this is not common among Jesuit colleges and universities. Beyond that we offer a wide range of courses focusing on particular traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, religions of China, and Native American religions. These courses all fill our common curriculum requirement of 9 hours. Advanced courses are also offered in Hinduism and Islam (but not Buddhism!). The enrollment for these includes both undergrad and grads in our M.A. program.

This is my 5th semester at Loyola and so far I've taught the Intro to WR, the Honors Intro. to WR, "Discovering Islam," "Hindu Theology," "Religions of Asia," "Intro to Buddhism," and this semester, 1st year Sanskrit. The offerings in our undergraduate major track are taught by Professor Cathy Wessinger and me. The fact that just the two of us are responsible for so many offerings means that some courses rarely get taught. My own interest in teaching Sanskrit and Prof. Wessinger's interests in supporting courses such as "Women in Religion" and another course on Millennialism makes this situation an ongoing problem, especially for students majoring in our World Religions track.

We have sponsored a number of special events during my short term at Loyola, including a week-long visit by the Tibetan nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, Nepal. They gave a fascinating performance on their first night, and then constructed a mandala in our student center, attracting quite a bit of interest during the week. Professor Steve Duffy invited me to serve as a respondent to a paper he gave to the College Theology Society in the spring of 1999. Loyola has also invited a number of speakers on campus, including an exceptional presentation by Gauvin Alexander Bailey (Clark University) on St. Francis Xavier and Jesuit Mission Art. Recently we also hosted an Indian researcher named Navjyoti Singh. Navjyoti is a scientist who has specialized in reworking Nyaya-Vaisesika ideas into terms and modes of discourse which both analytical philosophers and scientists find engaging. We also tapped Navjyoti to speak on Jainism to sections of our Intro to WR course.

Our department also sponsors the Yamauchi lecture series, an outreach initiative through which members of our department present their ideas to the New Orleans community. From time to time these lectures treat religious and theological issues from a comparative perspective, or present topics outside the Christian tradition, e.g. my 1999 lecture: "The Emotions of Devotion in Indian Religion."

Finally, I would like to suggest the name of a new colleague of mine in the Philosophy Dept. Edward Kleist, Ph.D. (Boston College) teaches ethics, among other things. He includes a substantial amount of comparative materials in his ethics courses, and perhaps he would be interested in sharing some of his perspectives with you. His email address is: ekleist@loyno.edu

I hope that this message meets your needs and expectations. I'm sorry that I have not ventured much on the dynamics of all this and how it plays out at our place. Perhaps organizing a meeting of some sort on these issues and concerns would be fruitful.

best wishes, Tim

PS - If you'd like some digital photos of the Tibetan nuns at Loyola, let me know!


Created: October 17, 2000 Updated: October 17, 2000