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Department ofReligious Studies

Stories

Paul Schutz and students

Paul Schutz and students

Questioning Tradition

Students & RS faculty gathered to discuss the meaning of tradition in Christianity, exploring what ways it has the capacity for change.

Students & RS faculty gathered to discuss the meaning of tradition in Christianity, exploring what ways it has the capacity for change.

On Wednesday, February 5, the Religious Studies Department hosted its second Religious Studies Conversations event of the 2019-2020 academic year: RS Conversations – Tradition and Dissent on the Evolution of Catholic Teaching.

Students and faculty gathered to discuss the meaning of "tradition" in the Christian tradition, the evolution of tradition in a Catholic context, and the possibility of faithful dissent from the tradition. At the beginning of the conversation, participants surfaced their understandings of tradition and named contemporary issues they wish the Christian tradition would address more fully, or differently. These issues included the status and authority of women in the church, the meaning of marriage, the ecological crisis, and LGBTQ+ concerns, including same-sex marriage. Faculty discussion leaders Sally Vance-Trembath and Gene Schlesinger then presented scholarly takes on the night's question, which bridged pastoral and experiential concerns with historical precedents, including the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and Christ in the first five centuries of Christian history and the movement away from marriage in the church among many young people today. After discussing these concerns in greater detail, the group undertook a "thought experiment" around the sacramental meaning of marriage. The conversation began by exploring the history of marriage and what the sacrament of marriage signifies. It then turned to the role of sex in marriage and the premium placed on procreation in the Catholic account of the sacrament. Participants then discussed the relationship between procreation and loving intimacy in marriage to explore what possibilities the Christian tradition offers from a broader definition of marriage that might include LGBTQ+ persons and others traditionally excluded from full recognition in Christian churches.

This event was organized and moderated by Paul Schutz.