Erenlai - Benoit Vermander (魏明德)
Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

Monday, 25 April 2011 12:04

Religions and Charities in China

The religious growth that China currently experiences is leading towards a most interesting trend: the organization of faith-based charities.  For sure, such trend is still hampered by a number of factors, but it does express the growing assertiveness of China’s civil society and of its religious groups.

Friday, 01 April 2011 18:59

Is Asia Pacific? Interreligious Encounters, Peace-building and Theological Inventiveness in today’s Asia


There is no need to underline the dizzying diversity of Asia’s religious landscape. At the same time, some general trends have emerged in the last two or three decades, partly reshaping the traditional setting of Asia’s religions. It is necessary to reflect on the challenges that these trends are creating. Interreligious dialogue in Asia is indispensable not only for peaceful religious coexistence and mutual understanding but also for progressing towards national and ethnic reconciliation in the various Asian countries as well as for tackling global challenges (peace-making, ecology, struggle against consumerism, development of a global ethic.) Theological inventiveness, itself nurtured by religious diversity, is a prominent resource for turning interreligious encounters into cultural, social and spiritual resources.

The planned conference will specifically address the two following issues:

(A) Revivalism and Identity Crisis

Revivalism has become the dominant religious trend. The clearest example is provided by the new vitality found by Islam in Asia, as has been also the case in other parts of the world. Such fact is of utmost importance: Indonesia is the most populated Muslim nation in the world; Bangladesh and Pakistan have overwhelming Muslim majorities, and Malaysia has also a Muslim majority, though not as pronounced; India has a strong Muslim minority; and Muslim populations are located on conflict-prone frontier regions in the Philippines or Thailand for instance. Of course, besides Islamic revival, other sources of concern exist, which strongly influence interreligious conflicts and cooperation on the continent as a whole: proselytism as and fundamentalism; the rise of political/religious currents and organizations asserting the predominance of a given  “national’ religion and thus endangering national cohesiveness; consumerism and individualism, which generate indifference towards the Other and closing upon one’s world..

(B) Interreligious dialogue as a peace-building endeavor

As a set of working hypothesis, we suggest that the conference discuss the following propositions:

-          What might be the most dangerous feature of violence is the fact that it exercises a kind of fascination that leads all people involved to hardening their own identity, fostering a chain of violent reactions, in spirit even when not in deeds. In this light, the importance of interreligious dialogue anchored into real spiritual encounters cannot be overlooked.

-          Asia is a region marked by an irreducible linguistic, cultural and religious diversity. Such diversity is a treasure that needs to be assessed, appreciated and interpreted. Peace-building is thus to be seen as an ongoing, creative endeavor inseparable from the development of interreligious dialogue in Asia, for both tasks are anchored into an interpretative process through which cultures, creeds and world-views are perpetually reshaped. On the long run, the “translation” of traditional languages and narratives that the in-depth meeting with the Other makes possible nurtures a creative reinterpretation of one’s spirituality and faith.

-          Value education and other actions conducive to a culture of dialogue must first target youth and women, as these two sectors are the ones who are susceptible to foster a less rigid and compassionate social culture. Value education starts from existential requirements such as the importance of honesty, mutual respect and joy. Interreligious cooperation is actually anchored into the nurturing of basic values that, ideally, could and should also be taught in the schools of a pluralistic secular state.


Provisional program

Friday May 13

16h30-18h20: First session: Theology and Practice of Interreligious Encounters


"A Dao of Interreligious Dialogue in an Age of Globalization and Science"

- Dr. Emi Mase-Hasegawa,

"Religions in Daily Life -  Religious Pluralism in Japan"

- Prof. Benoit Vermander

“Interreligious Dialogue and Conflicts in Asia Today: Theology and Geopolitics”

Discussant: Prof. Wang Zhicheng, Zhejiang University

Saturday May 14

Second session: 8h45-10h20: Conflicts and Peace-building  in Interreligious Context

- Prof. Amir Hussain

Islam, Interreligious Dialogue and Peacemaking: Issues from South Asia

- Prof. David Pinault

"Muslim-Christian Cooperation on Wildlife Conservation and Deforestation Issues as a Response to the Threat of Communal Violence in Muslim Southeast Asia."

-          Prof. Michael Reder

"Understanding the role of religion concerning global challenges: inter-religious co-operation in Indonesia facing climate change - an example"


Third session: 10h45-12h20: Religions and Peace in National Contexts

- Prof. Michael Amaladoss

“Interreligious Dialogue for Peace: the Indian Experience”

- Prof. SHIN, Jae-Shik

"Beyond the Religious Tension between Buddhism and Christianity in Korea"

- Prof. Katsuhiro Kohara, Doshisha University,

"Theology of Religions in the Rise of Nationalism"

Discussant: Prof. Yu Zhijun, Fudan University

Fourth session: 13h45-15h15: Religious Education and Peacemaking

- Prof. Edmund Tang

"Beyond Stereotypes: Changing Perceptions of Chinese Christianity from 1949 to the Present"

- Dr. Gao Xin

“Teaching Religions as Way of Value Education”

Discussant: Prof. Toshimasa Yamamoto, Kwansei Gakuin University

Fifth session: 15h30- 17h20: Religions and World Visions

- Prof. Li Tiangang

“Reinterpreting Teilhard’s Worldview from Today’s China”

- Prof. Hisakazu Inagaki,

"Peace and Happiness in East Asia from Public Philosophy / Theology"

- Prof. SUH, ChangWon

“The Asian Dream from a Religio-cultural Perspective”

Discussant + general synthesis: Prof. Michael Reder, Munich Hochschule fur Philosophie


Wednesday, 30 March 2011 10:41

Blessed are the Peacemakers: The Search for an East Asian Reading

East Asia is a region marked by an irreducible linguistic, cultural and religious diversity. Traditionally seen by Christianity as a practical and theological challenge, such diversity is now often considered as a treasure that needs to be assessed, appreciated and interpreted, so that Christians may enter a new understanding of the mission of “peacemakers” that the Sermon on the Mount calls them to fulfill. Peace-building is thus to be seen as a an ongoing, creative endeavor inseparable from the development of East Asian theology, for both tasks are anchored into an interpretative process through which cultures, creeds and world-views are perpetually reshaped. What defines them is never taken for granted but rather is being discovered and challenged throughout the process of exchange and interpretation. On the long run, the “translation” of traditional languages and narratives that the in-depth meeting with the Other makes possible nurtures a creative reinterpretation of one’s spiritual, dogmatic and cultural resources. This “translation” process amounts to a trespassing of boundaries, reviving and reshaping theological and peacebuilding endeavors alike.

This article is available in a recently published book entitled Asian and Oceanic Christianities in Conversation, Exploring Theological Identities at Home and in Diaspora (Studies in World Christianity and Interreligious Relations (SWCIR),Volume 47).

The old contrast between “universal” and “local” is now collapsing, but a new paradigm has yet to be defined. The contributors claim that the questions they raise will help redraw the lines of demarcation each in a unique way. Their collaborative result is a re-submission of the century-old question regarding “essence of Christianity,” and the readers will hear answers to this question resounding in polyphonic voices. The book will make a unique contribution to the scholarship by constructing a common forum connecting diasporic Asians and Oceanians who live and work in regions around the Pacific Ocean. Publication in the field of theology has been thick on the American side of the Pacific, and the agenda of discussion are shaped largely in accordance with the concerns of those living on the North-American continent and in British Isles. Theologians living on the other side of the Pacific, while in daily contact with the multi-religious realities that beg theological attention, sometimes lack means of engaging in sustained discussion with other theologians who are similarly struggling to gain insights into different cultural contexts. This book will provide a shared ground for reflection and discussion.

More info and order form with a special discount


Read a BV's article on Interreligious conflicts, dialogue and inventiveness in today's Asia



Monday, 28 March 2011 17:13



Tuesday, 15 March 2011 16:01


We quite spontaneously equate “teambuilding” with “leadership.”  This might be a misperception. In the teambuilding process each team member is a team builder, and nothing can be achieved without the active participation of all people involved.  Both team spirit and the fruits of the project on which the team works belong to all those who participated in it.  You may say that in every collective project there are two things created at the same time: the work that is accomplished (a rocket, a magazine, a building, a new medication…) and the team that has produced the work.

However, it is true that, in every team, there are people whose specific service is to ensure the cohesion and wellbeing of the team as a human group. This is a service like another one, as can be the one of cooking, doing accounting or conducting research. Team builders are “leaders’ only in the sense that they empower each and every member to be one of the team builders, that they intuit where the difficulties come from, and invent ways to heal the body divided against itself when conflicts and misunderstandings occur.

The New Testament offers to us two figures of great team builders: Jesus and Paul.  Jesus did not create an “institution”, he shaped the men and women who were following him. But he shaped them as part of a living community. During his final march towards Jerusalem he was leading a group of disciples bitterly divided among themselves. They were quarrelling over who was the greatest among them. Dissensions linked to differences in background, political opinions and appreciation of the situation were obviously growing. During the Last Supper, Jesus shares the bread and the chalice with people who seem to feel confused, angry and bitter.

They will eventually unite, first around the absence of Jesus and then – decisively – around the Risen One. The Acts of the Apostles tell us how they creatively start to build a community with others, in the recollection of the example of teambuilding that Jesus gave them. Paul will continue such work, building local churches and exhorting them, often with tears, to conduct themselves in justice and charity, and to renounce everything that causes divisions.

May we likewise overcome our ego and its limitations, so as to all become the “living stones’ of the teams we work in, and – looking even farther – of an ever-growing human community.

Photo by B.V.

Friday, 25 February 2011 13:40




Wednesday, 23 February 2011 19:47

Inner spring

As is the case for Chinese New Year, the day of Easter varies from year to year, being based on a solar-lunar calendar. In 2011, it will fall on April 24 – very late in the year. Still, as spring arises, I am already reminded of what Easter means to me.

Monday, 24 January 2011 15:56


米努西烏斯(Marcus Minucius Félix)是生活在三世紀初的拉丁作家。他在思想上深受德爾圖良的影響。兩人同是北非人,都曾在羅馬擔任辯護家。但米努西烏斯的拉丁語散文造詣超過了德爾圖良,以華麗優美的文風著稱,將基督精神和拉丁文學做了完美的結合。值得一提的是,三世紀以前重要的基督教作者幾乎全部來自北非。

Monday, 24 January 2011 14:02



Monday, 24 January 2011 11:19


《阿提卡之夜》(Noctes Atticae)是拉丁語作家、語法學家格利烏斯(Gellus, 128-180)的著作,是一部涉及語法、幾何、哲學、歷史等不同主題的筆記彙編。以下的短文列舉了朱彼得(Iuppiter)的祭司及妻子必須遵行的諸種禁忌和義務。

Monday, 24 January 2011 11:46


《埃涅阿斯記》(Aeneis )是維吉爾(Vergilius, 70-19 BC)在西元前29-19年間的創作,是一部以羅馬建城神話為題材的史詩,共十二卷,長達萬行。

Monday, 24 January 2011 14:13




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