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Tony Blair launches course at Yale Divinity School: CEN 9.26.08 p 6. September 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, NGOs.

Class has opened for Prof. Tony Blair’s course on “Faith and Globalization” at Yale Divinity School.

On Sep 19 the former prime minister taught his first seminar and participated in a question and answer session with University President Richard Levin before a student audience—offering his insights on the role religion should play in the coming world order.

From amongst those who sought to enroll in his weekly class, 25 students were selected: six from the University’s Divinity School, six from the business school, six undergraduates, and seven selected by lottery from the rest of the University.

In his evening lecture, Blair spoke to many of the themes raised in his class, taught in conjunction with Divinity School Professor Miroslav Volf. “Globalization is a force that pushes people together,” he said. “If religion becomes a force that pulls people apart, then it becomes a threat to the way the 21st century works.”

However by establishing a system of ethical values, religion can serve to humanize and civilize the process of globalization, the former prime minister said.

In response to student’s questions, President Levin said Blair was only receiving “a very nominal fee” for teaching his course, but the university had made a $200,000 donation to his foundation.

Blair defended his handling of the Iraq war, but noted his decision had been unpopular. Questions over the wisdom of his decision to support the invasion of Iraq was “where the audience gets divided into a small number – me and the rest,” he said.

However, the war in Iraq was part of the larger struggle against religious and political extremism in the Middle East. Britain and the US and their allies were fighting the same enemy in Afghanistan as in Iraq.

“People understand this is not easy on either side,” he said. “Do I ever have doubt or hesitation? Of course. But you have to do what you believe is right, and that’s what I did,” he said.

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