I never would have suspected the two kinds of consistent reactions I get when I share about my field of study. The one kind, and thankfully the most often one, is a mix of shock and befuddlement. When further explanation is given this usually turns into a statement along the lines of “that’s really cool.” The other type of reaction I get is much more serious, being overtly rooted in a mistrust of my entire academic field. This usually produces the question “how do you protect your heart?” Both these reactions stem from simply not knowing what inter-religious means, along with any philosophical underpinnings it might have. In part this is due to the relative newness of the field on the academic stage, but more in part due to our church’s view that engaging with other faiths theologically is to be avoided.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11204