The notion of heterodoxy does need discussions of quite varied topics. Apart from it being very sensitive, it is also highly problematic. One does need to use a variety of approaches to apprehend it. This seminar hopes to gather scholars from different specialization so as to have a better understanding of what heterodoxy is, in the context of religious pluralism. One of the driving reasons behind this seminar is the fact that religious community and entity is currently under pressure to reformulate its tenet and dogma vis-à-vis challenges of the modern time. The truth of the matter is, that the more modern a society, the more pluralistic it becomes. Plurality in itself may become a source of weakness –although in some cases strength- of religious authority. Just as a plural society may appreciate religion as a source of unity, the same society may also undermine it and regard it powerless. Historical evidences in Indonesia for instance, have shown that in recent years the regular recurrence of heterodoxy is due mainly to the availability of the varied religious options before the eyes of the community.
The aim of this seminar is two-fold. First it is interested to:
a. describe the phenomenon historically and sociologically;
b. try to understand its factors and backgrounds such as the ways it is being influenced by social changes such as modernity and its ramifications and reifications;
c. describe the heterodoxy groups in the country and discover their inner logic;
d. understand its relation to the so-called orthodox mainstream.
Second and more importantly, the seminar is interested to analyze the ways in which orthodoxy in particular and community at large responded to heterodoxy. In this regard, the seminar is about exploring the dialectic between orthodoxy -as well as the representatives of religious community- with heterodoxy in the context of religious pluralism. Three responses will be presented at the seminar. These are the normative, secular, and rational responses. The first is about resorting to the basics of religious dogma in order to build a stronger hold against the onslaught of distortion. This way of responding tends to lead to animosity, exclusion and discord. The second response is about defending the freedom of inventing new ways of being religious and new methods of expressing religiosity. This way leads to the formal religions such as Islam being undermined and loose its grip on society. Meanwhile the third response is to do with reformulating religious teachings so as to make them available and accessible not only to the distorted minds but also to the faithful. The seminar will discuss all of these without confining speakers to take this or that stance.
By discussing this theme, the seminar hopes to reach two different audiences. First, it hopes to speak to the international academic community and introduce them to the rich –yet controversial- nature of religious phenomenon in Indonesia as well as other countries in Southeast Asia. Second, it hopes to speak internally to the orthodox group in the country, which seems to apply solely the normative approach in dealing with heterodoxy. The seminar would argue that this approach is not sufficient. Heterodoxy is not always about theological issue. It is also about the orthodox failure in providing proper interpretation of religion. The impasse caused by the emergence of heterodoxy is in fact the result of there being no clear and creative rationalization of religion. Rational interpretation of religion is needed to meet the increasingly rational mind of the modern men. In the final analysis, the seminar will not delve too far into theological or dogmatic issues. The line of argument developed here is that which treats this religious phenomenon as a form of human experience.