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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important book, January 28, 2011
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This review is from: Comparative Theology: Deep Learning Across Religious Borders (Paperback)
Comparative theology is the cutting edge of spiritual understanding in the 21st century, and Clooney is its founder and most prolific contributor.

Every religion must now take into account the insights of other traditions. As this remarkable little book makes clear, comparative theology is not just a matter of interreligious relations; it is an opportunity to know God better and to relate to God more intimately, as we listen to the divine voice in the arresting tones and images of another tradition.

To draw insight from more than one religion, Clooney recommends, not grand syntheses (which could easily be simplistic and superficial), but small, particular engagements. His own approach is through the side-by-side reading of texts, not only "great books" such as the Bible and the Upanishads, but also guides to meditation and devotional literature such as tributes to Mary Mother of God and the Hindu goddess Devi and spiritual guides from multiple traditions. He gives a number of such readings, primarily though not exclusively from his own work in the Christian and Hindu traditions.

Although Clooney brings careful scholarship to the reading of these texts, he responds to them spiritually, soulfully, leaning forward to hear the divine voice, to understand the divine presence. A Jesuit himself, Clooney shows how listening to the divine voice in another tradition enriches as well as challenges how we understand our own tradition.

It may seem strange to seek God in a Hindu text but, Clooney argues, part of divine condescension is that God is willing to meet us wherever we find ourselves, to come to us through whatever images are available to us. Encountering God in an unfamilar place and in a strikingly different way, we may come to know something about God, or about how to relate to God, that we had not found in our own tradition (though we might find it there after discovering it elsewhere).

All this is achieved within the brief compass of barely 165 pages of actual text. It is hard to imagine a better introduction to this emerging field or a better preparation for faith seeking understanding in the interreligious world that may well be, as Clooney says, "providential."
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