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Interview with Professor Martin Jaffee - Part II
Miracles and Influence
What is it in the human spirit that helps people endure suffering? What is the role of miracles in human survival? "Hasidic Judaism and many Christian communities talk about miracles all the time. These people see their lives as a gift and have great power to withstand suffering."
Comparing Religions: Encouraging Students to Think and Reflect
"All religions say the same thing - be a good person. All religions have ritual activities. All focus on life-cycle, on connecting communities to other sources of reality. All function identically in the role they play. Yet, they are all different and each defines morality in radically different ways."
"I don't try to make students change their minds about their own lives, but I do want them to be reflective. I use myself as an example. My students are puzzled about how I can look like a rabbi and talk how I do. I'm an immigrant in every world."
"Death isn't the real issue for religion, limitations (on power, ability to control weather, intelligence....) and borders are. Death is the most radical of limitations. Peter Berger wrote about this. Religions are about control. Religions would be different if there were no death, but there would certainly still be religion.
Existence of God
"Most religious people look at all of the evidence and are still convinced that there is a God. For these people, the proofs are not important."
The Study of Religion
Students of Comparative Religion
"My students come from varied religious backgrounds. I hope secular students gain an appreciation of the relatively of their own secularism; a secular world view is a constructed reality. We need to commit to a secular or religious life. Religious students may come to realize that other religions also make sense and question evidence for their way of being."
The Study of religion
"In my opinion, Buddhism is a religion...Clifford Geertz and Peter Berger are good writers to read on this topic. Theology is an accidental offshoot of religion; not all religions have theologies...I connect ritual and ethics in a close way which is a sociological view of religion."
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