Downey

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John K. Downey (Ph.D., Marquette) is Professor of Foundational Theology & Political Theology at Gonzaga University where he has taught for 20 years. Before comming to Gonzaga he taught in the Program in Religious Studies at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has also held appointments at Mount Mary College, Marquette University, and Spokane Falls Community College.

Areas of interest: theological method (criteria for inquiry), political theology, higher education and pedagogy, linguistic philosophy, human rights, interdiciplinary dialogue, Francis of Assisi, Wittgenstein, Lonergan, Tracy, Metz.

Recent publications include a political reading of Francis of Assisi (“Canticle of Memory”) and editing an international collection on political theology and culture (Missing God: Political Theology and Cultural Amnesia). My current projects include a study of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice.

True university courses are academic inquiries not indoctrinations. The vital sign of an intellectual life is questioning, not data or certainty. And this is especially true in religion courses here at Gonzaga, since the Catholic tradition calls for intellectual honesty and questioning as ways of honoring God. It is not unusual for people in our culture to flee any serious intellectually critical talk about religion. For some it seen as dangerous to their unreflective religious practices, to others religion is a type of politically self-serving nonsense used by those in power to control thought and society. While both of these fears have some just reason for existing, they are not the stuff of honest intellectual inquiry. The academic study of religion stresses careful reading, evaluation of evidence, and a critical listening to both religious experience and the experience of postmodern culture. I hope my students will learn to ask whether a person's religious claims are part of a genuine struggle or just a cloak for some rather ordinary pathology of power, sex, or money.