Study/Encounter a Different Tradition Collections

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Jul 4 2020 6:00 AM

It's not uncommon for folks to post on these forums asking for resources related somehow to confessions, churches, ecclesial communities, theological schools, etc., other than their own. The denominational base packages can be helpful for this, but they are designed principally for members of the groups they've been named after. Likewise, seemingly, things like the old Orthodox Library Builder, Catholics Studies Bundles, etc.

I don't know that I've ever seen FL explicitly offer collections designed for non-members of specified groups--collections of resources for, say, non-Lutherans who want to learn about Lutheranism, non-Catholics who want to learn about Catholicism, non-Mennonites who want to learn about what what it is to be and believe as a Mennonite, etc.

Admittedly, the strength of FL's offerings that could be used for this varies across groupings... but for some of those groupings, having an "X for non-X's" bundle could be a meaningful sales boost that would, in the end, help expand the product offerings for X's. By their very nature, these collections would feature works exclusively or almost exclusively by members of each particular X.

I know the resources already exist in FL's ecosystem for an "Intro to Catholicism for non-Catholics" collection (I could and would happily build one)... surely such could be done for at least a few other groups as well.

So... am I crazy? What do y'all think?

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scooter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 6:59 AM

I study on my own. I am at that stage of study where I read my own vector's material, so as to acquire a thorough understanding of it.  And so, I would not be interested in these packages.

My stuff often compares itself to another situation's beliefs; this, combined with a few books in my library sharing other ideas, is enough.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:04 AM

SineNomine:
So... am I crazy? What do y'all think?

Well, you asked!  I vote crazy (not you). I suspect it runs into the 'MJ-effect'. And is a perfect platform for 'well, no-wonder'.

The MJ effect is the best way to understand 'them' is to read 'their' stuff. Buy a smaller collection level, or scan the key resources 'they' value.

The no-wonder effect is that such a collection invites 'why-their wrong' or as a minimum the key (typically superficial) differences. A good example last week, the COC doesn't like organs or pianos (heaven forbid, worship teams,). 

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:05 AM

I think it’s a good idea. Whether enough resources exist that could make such sets feasible (I imagine such sets ought to focus on “this is what we believe” and not proselytizing works) is the question.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:09 AM

Denise:

SineNomine:
So... am I crazy? What do y'all think?

Well, you asked!  I vote crazy (not you). I suspect it runs into the 'MJ-effect'. And is a perfect platform for 'well, no-wonder'.

The MJ effect is the best way to understand 'them' is to read 'their' stuff. Buy a smaller collection level, or scan the key resources 'they' value.

The no-wonder effect is that such a collection invites 'why-their wrong' or as a minimum the key (typically superficial) differences. A good example last week, the COC doesn't like organs or pianos (heaven forbid, worship teams,). 

Im also of the “read their stuff” school of thought. But let’s face it. Sometimes the lack of background in a denomination, or prejudice against a denomination leads people to misunderstand what they read. So balanced “this is what we really believe” books can be helpful.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:23 AM

David Wanat:
So balanced “this is what we really believe” books can be helpful.

Just chatting and thoughts.

I've my doubts about 'what we believe'. To use Catholic as an example. 'they' accept the pope, get fed communion, and have to own up to a priest (all of this badly stated). But my impression of Catholics I meet, is that the differences might be significant to protestants, but have little to do with being Catholic. Ditto the differences for the COC, or Southern Baptists, etc Living is different from reading about.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:31 AM

Ok, if I understand you correctly, you’re talking about when there is disagreement within a denomination about “what we believe”?

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 8:52 AM

David Wanat:

Ok, if I understand you correctly, you’re talking about when there is disagreement within a denomination about “what we believe”?

No .... I'm saying that key 'differences' are rarely the key to understanding associated believers. In the example of last week's COC, the 'we believe' acts as the boundary of participants ... but not the core to what's inside the boundary. To further illustrate, when at work, I could easily predict the broad religious traditions of my staff ... their perspectives and behaviors were different. How they lived their beliefs.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 9:10 AM

Okay, I think I get what you’re saying here. I guess this idea for a bundle probably matters more for religious groups that believe they are misrepresented or misunderstood. Members of each religious group would have to decide whether they think they are seen that way.

(or, maybe I missed your point again?)

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 10:04 AM

David Wanat:
or, maybe I missed your point again?

Your summary I'd agree. Probably I'm getting wildly off off Sinenomine's suggestion, but I initially designed my neural nets first relative to the text (syntax/linguistics), and then theological constructs (eg Holy Spirit, baptism, grace, etc). But I eventually saw the key neural net predictors as tagged relative to behaviors (vs tradition distinctions).

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 10:37 AM

This is indeed a need. That said, it is no where near as simple as it sounds, as demonstrated by the work extensive ecumenical work. There are indeed lots of misconceptions of the "other" that  can be cleaned up - and indeed these things should be. Speaking for myself, I have learned extensive things in the various Lutheran/Roman Catholic and Lutheran/Reformed reports. But it seems like whenever one road-block of misunderstanding is removed, that another shows up.

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 10:39 AM

I imagine sets like these would appeal more to people who want to hear from a denomination or religion about the beliefs and practices that are often misunderstood, as opposed to what those outside claim they believe. I imagine within Christianity, Catholics wish they could direct others to such a set. Outside of Christianity, I imagine Jews and Muslims have a similar wish.

Perhaps other denominations and religions have a similar need, or perhaps it’s not as big of a concern.

But I wouldn’t use such a set to say “well person A is a faithful member of the denomination but person B is not” since not all groups are the same on who teaches with authority within them.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 10:41 AM

Ken McGuire:

This is indeed a need. That said, it is no where near as simple as it sounds, as demonstrated by the work extensive ecumenical work. There are indeed lots of misconceptions of the "other" that  can be cleaned up - and indeed these things should be. Speaking for myself, I have learned extensive things in the various Lutheran/Roman Catholic and Lutheran/Reformed reports. But it seems like whenever one road-block of misunderstanding is removed, that another shows up.

Tragically, That is the reality we need to deal with.

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JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 3:54 PM

Denise:

David Wanat:

Ok, if I understand you correctly, you’re talking about when there is disagreement within a denomination about “what we believe”?

No .... I'm saying that key 'differences' are rarely the key to understanding associated believers. In the example of last week's COC, the 'we believe' acts as the boundary of participants ... but not the core to what's inside the boundary. To further illustrate, when at work, I could easily predict the broad religious traditions of my staff ... their perspectives and behaviors were different. How they lived their beliefs.

I agree. So true.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 4:22 PM

SineNomine:
am I crazy?

Is this the forum you really want to ask that question on? .... just saying Wink

My response is multi-part:

  1. We need more resources like The Common Catechism: A Book of Christian Faith which illustrate how ecumenical groups have found a common language. Even if you are strongly anti-ecumenical, this type of resource is often the only way to move beyond our small groups particular use of language. And, yes, there have been cases in the forums where members have held firmly to rather odd positions because they used a term outside its normal sense.
  2. We need more reference materials covering Jewish, Islamic, Gnostic, Druze, Bahá'í , Manichaen, legendary ... terms and beliefs so that we can see the major Biblical concepts, people, events, etc. in the broader cultural context. It matters what Jewish and Islamic legendary sources say about Adam as it is an indication of "what was in the air" i.e. what everyone knew and therefore what served as the interpretative context. And we need them is resources that don't fall into the LBD dictionary trap which says of the legendary materials in the Books of Adam: "A list of pseudepigraphal books offering fictional details from the lives of Adam and Eve". Not "fictional" rather "legendary" - keep the language period and genre appropriate.
  3. We need some perennial philosophy resources as a path towards seeing the similarities rather than differences among religions. This makes human experience a stronger apologetic arguments, highlights that actual (rather than perceived) differences, and opens the door for genuine interfaith conversations and thus witnessing.
  4. We need more materials that cover the geographical, historical, and theological breadth of Christianity - especially those that are outside the experience of most users of Logos. Rastafarians, Copts, Chinese Nestorians are typical examples. We don't need apologetics against them, we need their primary documents and histories/studies BEFORE any apologetics against them. Without an understanding of the broad strokes of Christian history, its heresies, and it syncretic and esoteric forms, it is easy to shout "non-Christian" when what you mean is "as a typical American, I've not seen this in my community." (Sorry but as an American I must admit that most Americans are parochial in their knowledge.)

I would suggest that the minimal starting point be the theological streams into which Logos has split the Systemic Theology section - producing something similar to the "Classic Commentary and Studies" series. Then expand outward to groups not really covered in the theological streams ... preferably with an expansion of the streams to build a need for the materials.

Have I managed to annoy everyone? If so, that probably covers all my bases.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 4 2020 4:26 PM

I think it's a great idea. In my mind, what might be most useful would be relatively small, affordable collections that would include introductions written by members of a faith tradition for new members or curious outsiders.  There might also be a place for sympathetic overviews written from a historical or academic perspective.  It wouldn't be perfect - nothing ever is - but it would be great, for instance, to have someone from an Eastern Orthodox background curate the six best books to read as an introduction to their faith tradition (and for FaithLife to bundle them and sell them at a discount Wink ).

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JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 5 2020 1:01 AM

MJ. Smith:
Have I managed to annoy everyone? If so, that probably covers all my bases.
 

Nope! Sorry to disappoint you. Big Smile  But then I don't class myself as a typical member of my own grouping. It is not only Americans who are parochial. Possibly one of my proudest moments was when some of my in-law's protestant scottish friends apparently described me behind me back as a friend of (Roman) Catholics after a somewhat heated discussion over the table at my in-laws house. It was not intended as a compliment either!

Seriously, it would be good for some of the types of works that you suggested to written/edited by authors with the skill to put arguments/factual information into language capable of being understood and absorbed by what I used to refer to as "a well read and reasonably intelligent 16 year old".  Sadly I guess that age is probably now 18 or even 21 in the UK after my recent experience of tutoring mid teens in the sciences after a 4 decades gap away from teaching.   


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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 5 2020 1:53 AM

David Wanat:
Whether enough resources exist that could make such sets feasible

I suspect that there is under the guise of materials for inquirers - materials for those who as adults wish to join a church of a different tradition than that in which they were raised/currently attend. Often this is a list of appropriate resources rather than something written specifically for that purpose.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 5 2020 2:02 AM

Denise:
But my impression of Catholics I meet, is that the differences might be significant to protestants, but have little to do with being Catholic.

I have a friend who grew up going to church 3 times every Sunday - once with his Dutch Reformed mother, once with his Irish Catholic father, and once with his Eastern rite Catholic grandmother. When his widowed mother retired to the South, she regaled him with her stories of finding a new church. My friend had an epiphany: "How do you tell a Protestant from a Catholic or Orthodox Christian? When they try to convert you, they hand you a Bible and a list of passages while a Catholic or Orthodox would say "Come and see" and drag you off to a service. --- sometimes the basic differences are so basic as to be invisible, it's theology lived not theology thought or believed. Note my tag line.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 6 2020 4:18 PM

EastTN:

In my mind, what might be most useful would be relatively small, affordable collections that would include introductions written by members of a faith tradition for new members or curious outsiders.  There might also be a place for sympathetic overviews written from a historical or academic perspective.  It wouldn't be perfect - nothing ever is - but it would be great, for instance, to have someone from an Eastern Orthodox background curate the six best books to read as an introduction to their faith tradition (and for FaithLife to bundle them and sell them at a discount Wink ).

Exactly this.

I could curate that from FL's PRESENT offerings from a Catholic perspective, but I am Catholic, so I want to see (and potentially buy) such collections from the perspective of other traditions.

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