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Linfield Magazine #27

“To truly dialogue, which is at the heart of religion in a healthy way, is to temporarily suspend one’s own paradigm to try to understand another.” – David Massey ’78, assistant professor of religious studies, chaplain healthy way, is to temporarily suspend one’s own paradigm to try to understand another,” said Massey. “Regardless of doctrine or dogma, students find common values, and then they start thinking, ‘Ah ha, they’re not so different from me.’” Diversifying the curriculum At the same time, the department is working to bring greater awareness and knowledge of diversity, both local and global, to the college. David Fiordalis, department co-chair and an expert in Buddhism and Asian religions, joined the faculty in 2011, and has opened new doors for Linfield students to explore Asian traditions, both experientially and using interdisciplinary methods. In addition to developing new courses in religious studies, he has worked with students to form the Linfield Meditation Club, and teaches a first-year seminar on meditation theory and practice as well as the introductory course in comparative, global philosophy. “As religious studies scholars,” said Fiordalis, “we focus on religion and use different disciplinary methods to understand it from different perspectives. I rarely teach a class in religious studies without drawing upon anthropology, philosophy, historical studies, even art and literature. Then, I encourage students to go apply what they’ve learned through experiential learning, such as observing events at nearby Buddhist and Hindu temples.” Before coming to Linfield, Fiordalis lived and taught in India and Nepal, and brings firsthand knowledge of the Pacific Rim and other Asian countries. He mainly works with Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan, three of the principal languages in which traditional Buddhist literature has been preserved. Fiordalis is also connecting with the diversity already on campus. For instance, Jia Mang ’15 from China studied with Tibetan Buddhist masters before coming to Linfield, and has Linfield Chaplain David Massey ’78, right, introduces Frederic “Fritz” Tubach, author and son of a Nazi officer, who spoke in classes and presented the Frazee Lecture in Bible and Religion in March. Massey’s class on forgiveness and reconciliation approaches the subject from Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian perspectives. Massey has a MDiv. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School amd a DMin. from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. 1 0 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Summer 2013 taken several classes with Fiordalis. He is serving as a peer instructor for the Tibetan Buddhism class, and appreciates Fiordalis’ curiosity and passion. “He’s given us a broader sense of religion,” Mang said of Fiordalis. “He doesn’t just teach students but he learns from students. He leads students in discussion and dialogue, both critically and constructively.” Diplomatic lens Religion has long been the silent filter on diplomatic issues around the world. And with heightened political tensions, it’s more important than ever to understand how religious subtleties impact society. Students like Meckenzie Holmes ’13 realize religious studies and political science go hand in hand. Holmes was 10 on 9/11. That sparked her interest in Islam. “I knew it was a really important part of the world,” said Holmes, who earned a political science degree with a religious studies minor. “I wanted to know what caused the terrorism mentality, but more than that, I wanted to know what the everyday Muslim said about terrorists.” Holmes has found some answers, along with learning Arabic, after taking part in collaborative research on women in Islam with Dawn Nowacki, professor of political science, and interning at the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard. “This has helped form my moral values of looking at something in its entirety before judging it,” she said. Holmes knows her religious studies training will provide an edge for her future because it helps her to understand the roots of other cultures. “Religion ties into so much,” she said. “Faith is the basis for moral and ethical values of a culture, which ties into the politics, which ties into the economy. It’s all interrelated.”


Linfield Magazine #27
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