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Professor Kenneth Cracknell, Friend of ISKCON and Champion of Religious Pluralism, Passes Away


It is with nice unhappiness that we report that Reverend Dr. Kenneth R. Cracknell, a Methodist Christian scholar, theologian, professor, and good friend of ISKCON handed away on October 26, 2022.

Kenneth was a was a British specialist in interfaith dialogue and the Christian theology of religions. His profession included pioneering the interfaith relations work of the British Council of Churches, educating on the University of Cambridge within the United Kingdom, and at Brite Divinity School, Texas, from the place he retired in 2007 as Distinguished Professor of Theology and Global Studies.

Appointed the primary head of Interfaith Relations for the British Council of Churches in 1978, Dr. Cracknell traveled world wide facilitating conversations and collaborative work between spiritual teams, some that had histories of animosity towards each other.

Among his many books and articles are “Justice, Courtesy and Love: Theologians and Missionaries Encountering World Religions, 1846-1914,” Epworth, 1995; “In Good and Generous Faith–Christian Response to Religious Pluralism,” Peterborough: Epworth, 2005; and “An Introduction to World Methodism,” Cambridge University Press, 2005, co-authored along with his spouse, Dr. Susan J. White.

Dr. Cracknell first frolicked with Hare Krishna devotees in 1987, when he met
Shaunaka Rishi dasa, who was then ISKCON Ireland’s Public Relations Officer. Shaunaka invited Kenneth to go to the ISKCON temple on Inis Rath, a small island in
Ireland. Staying for per week, Cracknell each realized of the historical past and depth of Gaudiya
Vaishnava teachings, but challenged ISKCON, and Shaunaka, to maneuver out of its isolationist tendencies and enter extra firmly into the world of interfaith dialogue and alternate.

Shaunaka Rishi: “Kenneth was my mentor, my guru in interfaith. He was considerate, compassionate, vibrant, delicate, and sort in all his dealings. A gentleman, a scholar, and a devotee. He did a lot to assist different devotees, in Europe and the US, that Krishna, additionally being variety, is little question, providing him extra service and love—and at all times will.”

Dr. Cracknell’s first article written for ISKCON was printed within the June 1996 (Volume 4) of the ISKCON Communications Journal (ICJ), entitled “The Four Principles of Interfaith Dialogue and the Future Of Religion.” Therein he described:

“My involvement with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness stems initially from coping with points of spiritual freedom. Some proposals being put earlier than the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1984 have been designed to restrict the powers of so-called sects and new spiritual actions to make and hold converts in Western Europe. These proposals, clearly impressed by the anti-cult motion, have been so half-baked as to be ludicrous…..As a servant of the British Council of Churches at the moment, I wrote a place doc for our Executive Committee. The church leaders who composed that Executive noticed instantly the risk to non secular freedom…and supported the stand I used to be about to take. Thus I grew to become the good friend of all new spiritual actions whose solely offence was to wish to proclaim their message and to collect communities of believers.” (To learn the complete article go to https://www.iskconcommunications.org/iskcon-journal/vol-4/the-four-principles)

In Volume 8 of the ICJ, June 2002, Dr. Cracknell wrote of his rising appreciation for the contributions of ISKCON, and its bhakti custom: “Could it actually be that our greatest companions in Christian-Hindu dialogue are these of the bhakti traditions? Could we not, from our Christian perspective, deem it as providential that Srila Prabhupada so brilliantly preached amongst Westerners? Might we not say that God has, via this man’s educating, raised up a brand new technology of interpreters of bhakti devotionalism? Could this not even be a brand new kairos, or turning level, within the lengthy and chequered historical past of Christian-Hindu relations?” he wrote.
(https://www.iskconcommunications.org/iskcon-journal/vol-8/iskcon-and-interfaith-dialogue)

Kenneth and his spouse, Susan White, herself a professor emerita of Brite Divinity School the place she taught worship and spirituality, participated as senior students and religion leaders in a number of of the annual conferences of the Vaishnava-Christian Dialogue in Washington, D.C. There Kenneth spoke of Protestant writers in India who first met Vaishnava sadhus and appreciated their devotional dedication and realizations; in addition to urging members to learn with open hearts from one another’s theological insights.

In his later years, Kenneth and Susan each retired from college educating and moved to Vermont, USA, the place they established Sutton Books, a web based e-book promoting firm that housed, as of 2022, 40,000 titles. There, within the small village of Norwich, Vermont, Kenneth and Susan hosted ISKCON’s Communications Director, Anuttama dasa, and his spouse Rukmini devi dasi, for a number of days every summer season.

“It’s been our nice honor and pleasure to know Kenneth and Susan and to have them as shut buddies,” mentioned Anuttama dasa. “I cherished to listen to Kenneth communicate of his personal deep religious insights and love of God, and his nice appreciation of different faiths. He was a real teacher, mentor, and sadhu. We realized immensely from him. I’ll miss him dearly,” mentioned Anuttama.

“Kenneth was a gracious and godly man,” mentioned Rukmini devi dasi. “It was a delight to listen to him communicate. He instructed me that his first profound expertise of spiritual range was when he went to Africa as a younger missionary to convey God to the African folks, however as a substitute found that ‘God was already there at work;’ he was amazed on the refined theological understandings the native folks held. That expertise, he defined, modified the trajectory of his life,” mentioned Rukmini.

The final tutorial convention that Professor Cracknell attended was “The Worldwide Krishna Movement: Half a Century of Growth, Impact, and Challenge,” held on the Harvard University’s Center for Study of World Religions in 2016. The convention marked the fiftieth Anniversary of ISKCON and was hosted by one of many world’s preeminent boards for biblical studies and dialogue. In an interview in the course of the convention with movie maker Krishna lila devi dasi, of Karuna Productions, the nice professor spoke of his appreciation for ISKCON, and the contributions of Srila Prabhupada. To watch that interview and be taught extra in regards to the deep affection of this essential scholar held for ISKCON, devotees of Krishna, and interfaith dialogue generally, go to https://www.iskconcommunications.org/assets/photos-gallery/videos-gallery

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