'Listen with the Ear of the Heart': Benedictine Spirituality & the Hermeneutics of Interfaith Conversation

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John P. Hopkins, Ph.D.

Abstract

Eboo Patel proposes a meaning of interfaith conversation that can help guide Catholic universities in engaging students in meaningful interactions. This article aims to show how the Benedictine value of listening can inform Patel’s meaning. Utilizing the philosophical hermeneutic tradition of Hans-Georg Gadamer, the author demonstrates that interfaith conversation resonates with a hermeneutic meaning of understanding, and that listening plays an essential role in this meaning. Drawing from the Benedictine, Catholic tradition, the article puts forward techniques for deep, attentive listening and shows how Benedictine listening can supplement Patel’s model. Two practical strategies are proposed that can help Catholic educators implement interfaith conversations and Benedictine listening on their campuses. The article concludes by considering one implication for Catholic higher education. 

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