September 24, 2010

A memorial service was held in September at New York's Riverside Church for Ernest T. Campbell, the congregation's senior minister from 1968 to 1976. He died July 9 at age 86 in his New York home. He was active on behalf of civil rights, migrant workers, a more humane national budget and fairer treatment for the LGBT community, said a church spokesperson. Campbell was a frequent speaker on The Protestant Hour and the National Radio Pulpit, as well as on college campuses. Campbell also taught at several seminaries, including Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theo­logical Semi­nary (his alma mater), Pitts­burgh Theological Seminary, Fuller Theo­logical Seminary, Claremont School of Theology and Garrett-Evangelical Seminary. His preaching missions abroad served as inspiration for such books as Christian Manifesto and Locked in a Room with Open Doors.

Raimon Panikkar, Catholic priest, philosopher and theologian noted for promoting interfaith dialogue, died at his home in Spain on August 26. He was 91. The son of a Catalan Catholic mother and an Indian Hindu father, Panikkar was a professor at the University of Madrid when in 1954 he made his first trip to India. It proved to be a life-changing experience of which he later said: "I left Europe [for India] as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without ever having ceased to be a Christian." He also taught in Rome and at two U.S. universities, Harvard (1966-1971) and the University of Cali­fornia, Santa Barbara (1971-1987). The peripatetic Panikkar traveled worldwide, giving lectures and sermons and conducting retreats, always with a view to opening up Christianity to other religions. His 1989 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh were published as The Rhythm of Being. Among his many other books: The Unknown Christ of Hindu­ism, The Vedic Experience, The Silence of God, The Cosmostheandric Experience and The Intrareligious Dialogue. In an interview in these pages in 2000, Panikkar said: "The whole history of Christianity is one of enrichment and renewal brought about by elements that came from outside itself."

 British literary critic Frank Kermode, whose engaging works included studies in biblical literature, died August 17 at age 90 in Cambridge, England. Kermode, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, wrote The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1967) and taught not only at Cambridge but also at Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He contributed to Christian-related academic journals and was noted especially for his 1979 book The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative. Kermode coedited with Robert Alter The Literary Guide to the Bible (1987).