I have to wonder at times if a TRUE interfaith dialogue is possible. I know the ideal is to be like that commercial where the Jewish Rabbi and the Catholic Priest are sitting down at one of those park chess tables and both are looking at the other wondering if they brought them, only to have the Islamic Immam come up with the doughnuts and sit. It’s obvious that the three of them are good friends.
Given that ideal, and understanding that it SHOULD be possible, is it practical to have interfaith interactions which don’t get bogged down in trivalities?
It really should be. There is no reason why the religion has to enter into the picture. Carl McColman and I are friends, he’s a Christian (Catholic specifically) Mystic, former Pagan, and I am a Druid, former Mormon. It should be possible for he and I to sit down across a table and have a discussion about religion and come to a meeting of the minds on any topic of the day.
Unfortunately I think the impediment to these kinds of interactions is those who are not ready to have their beliefs challenged. The ones who are using that faith as the prop for the rest of their life, and who have such a shaky faith that they cannot sit down and really examine their beliefs.
When one uses religion in this manner, it looks like fanaticism, and it is in a way. But when it’s used as those props, it becomes something that can’t be disturbed.
For instance, if we consider that the foundation of the person is their core personality, the beams supporting the house is their religion, and the rest of the house is stuff they want others to see, then you can see how having one support beam after another undermined and challenged is dangerous.
I think it is only the truly secure who don’t mind looking at their beliefs and challenging their assumptions in their religion. It’s a good and healthy thing in my opinion to do so. It helps clarifiy what you believe and it forces youto rationalize what you DO believe. Just crying out that you don’t think gay marriage is a good thing is not complete. Being able to articulate why you believe that is what I’m interested in hearing.
“The Bible tells me so” isn’t good enough. That’s a book in which one person’s opinions were written down, translated, retranslated, added to, edited, translated again and so on. It very well COULD read “Adam and Steve” but we will never know that. But understanding that you were taught that gay marriage is wrong, then objectively looking at your views on it and determining WHY you feel that way, and how it could be that your religion feels that way, well then I will leave you alone on the topic if only because you have actually challenged your belief in that area.
I may still not AGREE with your beliefs in that area, but I will respect you for actually looking and thinking of why you believe that way, instead of being sheeple.
But it’s only when everyone involved has a good sense of what they believe is right that interfaith dialogue is possible, for just being in the same room with those of differing beliefs is a challenge to the standards of most religions.
Mainstreem Christianity says that those who don’t believe in God are wrong and going to hell. That they cannot be good people since they don’t believe in God. But here is a whole group of people that are among the most moral beings there are, kind and generous, loving and law abiding, helpful and charatable, who don’t believe in the Christian definition of God at all. They, in fact, don’t believe in ANY god. And how can they and their morals be reconciled with God’s declaration that anyone who is not with him is evil?
The simple truth is that it can’t be reconciled. Therefore it’s a big freaking anomoly which either has to be ignored, resolved or incorporated somehow into the structure of belief. So you say “All those who don’t believe in God are evil, except for them” and you keep doing that until you have this ball of “Thems” that incorporates most of those that are supposedly evil. At which point you HAVE to say “maybe not all those who don’t believe in God are evil.” And that is the first step toward heresy and the collapse of the faith house. And that challenge is intolerable for many.
I would venture to say that those who decry abortion and also gay marriage, if they were cornered, would be willing to admit that their opponents are right, they simply can’t bring themselves to admit it since that would make their faith house collapse. Thus they are strident in their attacks, hoping that by doing so their opponents will reduce themselves to things and no longer be a threat to them and their beliefs by existing.
Just my thoughts on this subject. Not sure if it actually says anything.