The first issue of Knox’s newest student publication focusing on religion and faith entitled “Fusion: An Inter-Faith Theology Journal” will soon grace campus. One of the reasons the “Fusion” co-editors-in-chief, sophomore Kyle Cruz and junior Yumna Rathore, felt the need to publish a theology journal was because of a lack of dialogue on religion at Knox.
Rathore said, “We feel, at Knox, there’s this stigma about talking about religion openly … I think that [religion] is a big part of everyone’s life and we should talk about it. We’re combining an element of your personal life, basically, with academics [through this journal].”
Cruz conceived the idea of a theology journal and pitched the idea to a few other students in the beginning of fall term and, with their support, soon proposed the journal in front of the Broadcast, Internet and Publications Board mid-term. In its proposal, “Fusion’s” mission statement and purpose is, “To establish an inter-faith journal that promotes mutual understanding of—and respect for—the different faiths and belief systems represented at Knox.”
As an interfaith journal, Cruz and Rathore said that they did not want people to get the impression that they will compromise their faith. Cruz said, “She [Yumna Rathore] comes at it from the sort of angle as I do. I’m Christian and she’s Muslim, but we hold our faiths dear to ourselves.”
Instead of merely providing more dialogue on religion, the journal will have scholastic merit and hopes to help people get past misconceptions they may have. Cruz said, “It’s better that people can speak intelligently about faith rather than speculate.”
Besides having Christian and Muslim viewpoints, the journal will have other faiths represented including Buddhism, Atheism and Hinduism, with the first issue having at least eight writers.
Cruz and Rathore gave examples of what topics writers are choosing to compose on for the journal. One student, for example, is writing about a holiday Hindus celebrate and what it signifies in terms of their religious beliefs. Another planned article will challenge misconceptions that Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, emphasizes suffering for the sake of suffering. Cruz, the prospective article’s author, says he is writing about how it is a privilege to suffer for Christ.
Rathore noted that people could merge politics into the journal by discussing the banning of the burkha (also called burqa, a type of clothing which covers the entire body, worn by Muslim women) in Belgium and France in public places, which Rathore says is a violation of individual rights and freedom.
Even after presenting their idea of a theology journal, receiving approval and obtaining an advisor (Professor James Thrall, of the recently established Religious Studies department), “Fusion” still faces many challenges. One such challenge is coordinating the leadership of the journal. Cruz will be abroad for the whole of next year with Rathore having to take over. Rathore will have graduated when Cruz returns.
Committed to scholarly integrity and quality writing, Cruz likened writing for the journal to an independent study, in terms of extra work. The journal has already hosted a research workshop for its writers to learn the proper format and style for writing for a scholastic journal. Without a budget, the journal will be published online as a .pdf, so one of the challenges is designing the website for the journal as well as the logo.
Cruz said, “We still haven’t finalized those things and it’s a little stressful to think that all those loose ends have to come through pretty soon.”
Despite all of these challenges, Cruz and Rathore hope to publish “Fusion” during spring term.
Rathore said, “We have high hopes we can pull it off.”
As the theology journal will soon be published and will showcase the work that goes into starting a new publication, Cruz and Rathore hope people will continue the journal. Community values are important in their backgrounds, and they hope they will cultivate a community of people who will get more involved in the journal as a way to get involved on campus.
Cruz said, “I never underestimate the power of any religion…as a unifying factor.”