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Friday, November 1 • 11:15am - 12:30pm
Breakout 1.02: Contemplative Pedagogies and Meaning Making in Religious Education

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The Practice of Prayer and Conversion to the Neighbor: Towards a Contemplative Pedagogy for Neighbor-Love
Jennifer Lewis (Boston University)

Research Interest Group. [Paper] With religio-political polarization and out-group violence on the rise, what can religious educators do to foster compassion, understanding, and charity across lines of difference? Social neuroscience research suggests that empathy – the capacity to share in and understand another’s affective and mental states – can increase our compassion for others, reduce implicit bias and significantly influence our behavior towards those beyond our social groups. But if empathy leads to compassion and the kind of pro-social behavior that heals divisions, how can religious educators cultivate empathy? In two words: contemplative prayer. This paper brings Howard Thurman’s reflections on prayer and Gustavo Gutierrez’s concept of “conversion to the neighbor” into conversation with social neuroscience research on empathy, with the aim of showing how prayer might serve as pedagogical “path” towards empathy and a conversion to our neighbor characterized by boundary-breaking love.

Teaching Contemplatively for Unified Hearts and Communities
Patrick Manning (Seton Hall University)

Research Interest Group. [Paper] This paper highlights contemplative pedagogy as an educational approach with a demonstrated capacity to facilitate unification within the individual and among different people. The early parts of the paper present a biblically-rooted analysis of the human dynamics that impede peaceful coexistence and a discussion of the ways educators can exacerbate learners’ alienation from the transcendent, themselves, and others. The latter part of the paper discusses scientific research and the author’s own experiences that suggest possibilities for promoting unity through contemplative pedagogy.

Keywords: alienation, compassion, contemplative pedagogy, empathy, prayer, relatedness, self-reflection, social neuroscience, thurman.

avatar for Theodore Brelsford

Theodore Brelsford

Affiliate Associate Professor, Emory University

avatar for Patrick Manning

Patrick Manning

Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Seton Hall University
As a religious educator, professor, and teacher formator, my goal is to facilitate transformative encounters with the Christian tradition in the classroom setting. Operating at the intersection of theology, education, and cognitive science, my work focuses on methods of theological/religious... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Lewis

Jennifer Lewis

Boston University

Friday November 1, 2019 11:15am - 12:30pm EDT
Algonquin A
  Breakout, Research Interest Group