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John Thatamanil
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John J. Thatamanil is Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His areas of research include comparative theology and theologies of religious pluralism. Specifically, he writes on Hindu-Christian Dialogue and Buddhist-Christian Dialogue. His first book on Hindu-Christian dialogue is The Immanent Divine: God, Creation and the Human Predicament. He is currently at work on a second book provisionally entitled Religious Diversity After Religion: Reimagining Theologies of Religious Pluralism. He is Chair of the American Academy of Religion's Theological Education Steering Committee and the Project Director of the AAR/Luce Summer Seminars on Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology. Born and raised in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of South India, John is currently a member of St. Augustine's Episcopal Chapel at Vanderbilt and an aspiring albeit infrequent practitioner of vipassana.

Entries by John Thatamanil

The Baptism of Grief

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2015 | 10:08 AM

We human beings are what we are in and through our relationships with an extensive and perhaps even infinite web of beings. This is a fragile and tremulous web, and our belonging to it means that any rupture in it, any loss, any passing, any tearing, wounds us. When these...

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In the Face of Systemic Racism, South Asians Must Not Keep Silent

(8) Comments | Posted December 13, 2014 | 3:11 PM

These past few weeks have been gut-wrenching for African Americans and other communities of conscience. The execution of black men and forgotten black women by white police officers, and the failure of justice first reemerging in Ferguson and now in New York City, have poured salt into the festering wound...

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Love's Contradiction: Embracing Joy and Sorrow

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 11:43 PM

To lack joy, to be without an effervescent delight in the sheer fact of being alive with others, is an immense impoverishment. We know this truth in the marrow because we who have been deprived of joy by loss or injury have felt the absence of a vital sap that...

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Hope for the New Year

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 6:22 PM

The beginning of the New Year is an ambiguous time despite the frivolity and joy that mark its arrival. All but the naïve or forgetful know we've been here before. We've made the same tired resolutions -- more exercise, more time set aside for meditation, a better diet -- and...

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Reimagining Lent By Rethinking Repentance

(12) Comments | Posted March 2, 2013 | 6:22 PM

Lent note: HuffPost Religion invites you to share your Lent reflections, experiences, stories and photos with us. Send them to and check out our Lent liveblog.

Lent can be for Christians a dour and dispiriting time because we suppose it to be a season to...

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Christmas in Newtown and Bethlehem

(1) Comments | Posted December 27, 2012 | 5:25 PM

Embrace vulnerability or attempt to erase it -- this elemental choice largely determines the texture and trajectory of our personal and communal lives. The former choice leads to flourishing; the latter leads to a downward spiral of disengagement, isolationism, mutual suspicion and violence. Christmas is God's embrace of vulnerability. Christmas...

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The Work of Memory

(2) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 1:34 PM

The phrase "Never forget!" is vacuous or dangerous, either meaningless sloganeering or a provocation. The vital question is "Why remember?"

Many, especially in New York, remember 9/11 because they cannot forget; the traumatic grip of memory is severe and unrelenting. What can "Never forget!" mean for those who have no...

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Love as a Public Virtue

(1) Comments | Posted May 16, 2012 | 1:02 PM

Fairness, kindness and, above all, love seem like ethereal notions empty of force in a world of power politics and free wheeling capitalism. Realpolitik is for the sober-minded whereas love is best left to otherworldly preachers and slightly addled spiritual gurus. At a subtler level, some Americans have come to...

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Why Remember?

(1) Comments | Posted September 11, 2011 | 11:03 AM

New York is now my city and has been so for just over a month. I've arrived in time to be here as the city commemorates the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Ten years ago, I was in Jackson, MS. As I was driving into work at Millsaps College, I turned...

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Killing and the Myth of Closure

(36) Comments | Posted May 6, 2011 | 4:16 PM

Almost all occurrences of the word "closure" in American public life are questionable and even worrisome, especially because the word is most often deployed after a killing. In addition to ample empirical data that execution rarely affords closure for victims' families, Christians have special theological reasons to be concerned about...

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Binocular Wisdom: The Benefits of Participating in Multiple Religious Traditions

(131) Comments | Posted February 26, 2011 | 10:00 PM

I am a Christian theologian who loves Buddhism.

Unlike some who turn to Buddhism because of trauma from a toxic or inadequate version of Christianity, my love for Buddhism is not a product of alienation. My religious family of origin is not ideal -- no family is -- but my...

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The Religious Wisdom of Authentic Self-Love

(87) Comments | Posted September 11, 2010 | 9:56 PM

A dangerous thought: suppose we measured the worth of our religious traditions pragmatically? What if the merit of a tradition hinged on its capacity to help us live out the wisdom it commends? Of course, our traditions are treasuries containing spiritual resources that can inform us about how best to...

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To the Quran-Burning Church: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

(79) Comments | Posted August 3, 2010 | 3:41 PM

Islamophobia in America is gradually reaching epidemic proportions. The toll that such toxicity will exact on our core constitutional values is slowly becoming apparent. But few seem to realize that surrender to suspicion and fear also brings with it a heavy moral and spiritual price. When Christians (and sadly much...

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Interfaith Cooperation for the Common Good: A White House Project

(172) Comments | Posted June 10, 2010 | 5:05 PM

On Monday, June 7th, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships sponsored a meeting on "Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses." At that meeting, Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and member of the President's Advisory...

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Beyond the Theism/Atheism Divide: A Plea for Humility

(1440) Comments | Posted April 28, 2010 | 3:09 AM

Too many atheists display the same aggression and smug self-satisfaction that they detest in their fundamentalist rivals. The tragedy is that the crossfire between these groups prevents robust alliances between modest liberal religious communities and humble non-dogmatic atheists on matters of real urgency.

What binds many atheists together is an...

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What Does The Buddha Have To Do With Jesus?

(772) Comments | Posted April 9, 2010 | 2:36 PM

The state of American religious public discourse is profoundly impoverished. Conversations in print and broadcast media are stifling because they are largely monoreligious: Christianity appears to be the only game in town. Islam is permitted occasional appearances but only under the guise of militancy.

This week's PBS broadcast of David...

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