Full Text of Rev. Andrew Kille’s Speech at Pacifica Institute


Full Text of Rev. Andrew Kille’s Speech at Pacifica Institute

Tolerance, Respect, and Pluralism: Changing Relationships in a “Multi-“ World

rev_killeRev. D. Andrew Kille, Ph.D.

Pacifica Institute

March 4, 2015

 

Tolerance of those whose beliefs, practices, or customs differ from one’s own is a minimum requirement for living in the contemporary world, as it becomes increasingly multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-you-name-it. What might be necessary to move beyond tolerance to mutual respect, and how might that move change our understandings of community in a pluralistic context?

 

I am often struck by how different my world is now than when I was younger. I grew up in a small town, where religious dialogue meant little more than the Baptists were willing to talk to the Methodists. I knew there were Catholics and Jews, and maybe even Buddhists and Hindus, but never imagined that there might be Jains and Zoroastrians, Wiccans or Gnostics.

There was a joke told when I was young about a man who died and went to heaven. St. Peter met him at the gate, and was showing him all the wonders of heaven—the lovely mansions, the wide lawns. At one point in the tour, however, St. Peter said, “Shhh! Be quiet here,” and they tiptoed down the hall past the room with a closed door.

“What was that about?” said the man.

St. Peter replied, “Oh, that was (and I will use my own community here, though it could be anyone) the Baptists. They think they’re the only ones here.”

There was a time long ago, perhaps even when we were young, that we could pretend that we were the only ones here. But in our modern world where communication and news, and even people can travel quickly from place to place, we are more and more likely to encounter those who are truly different from us. We have moved from small villages to larger towns to cities and regions and now share global connections, and none of us can now pretend that we are the only ones here.

Sociologists tell us that our capacity for close relationship is limited. They suggest that the human brain can only handle a limited number of close relationships. That number, known as Dunbar’s number is estimated to be between 100 and 250 people. Beyond that, personal relationship is not enough to hold a group together; they begin to develop institutions, rules, laws, and enforcement to manage the connections.

We thus move into the arena of what sociologist Benedict Anderson called “imagined communities.” An imagined community is different from an actual community because it is not (and, for practical reasons, cannot be) based on everyday face-to-face interaction between its members. A nation is a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group.

At some level, we understand that. For example—where is Silicon Valley? Is it a geographic location, a cluster of technologies, a state of mind? The other day, from the window of the ING offices on the ninth floor, I was able to see from the East Foothills to the Almaden area to the Santa Cruz Mountains. I consider this my community. But I realize I will never know all of the people here; I will not meet most of them. We do not all share the same interests, or stories, or hopes for the future. So what does it mean to be a part of the Silicon Valley Community?

Within that larger reality, we develop smaller “villages.” Faced with unimaginable diversity, we move toward group identity on a smaller scale—developing ways of knowing who is in and who is out; who can be trusted and who should be mistrusted. Sadly, group identity is often formed in opposition to “the other.”

The story is told of a Jewish man who was stranded on a desert island for many years. When a ship finally came to rescue him, he told the rescuers, “Before we go there is something I want to show you.” He took them to one end of the island and showed them a complex of buildings built out of the native trees and stone. It included a synagogue, a school, and other buildings.

“That’s my synagogue,” he said proudly. Then he led them to the other side of the island where again there was a group of buildings—another synagogue, another school, and more.

He announced, “That’s the synagogue I don’t go to.”

In this increasingly globalized world, where we can know what is happening far beyond the limits of our eyesight and are bombarded with images, ideas, and challenges day in and day out, how are we to deal with the encounter with those who are different?

One option is to attempt to ignore the other. We pretend they are not there, or that they are not really different. This was much more possible in a world limited to a village group or clan. There might be differences out there, but we are careful to avoid pointing them out or engaging those who are different. Or we may simply refuse to allow those differences into our world.

A second option is to do battle with the other, to try to convince, convert, or coerce them into agreement or, in the worst case, to remove them from “our” community, perhaps even eliminate them out of the world altogether. We can try to exclude people who will not assimilate to our way of seeing things.

A third option that was popular for years was to tolerate the other. “Tolerance” is often the word invoked when people talk about attitudes toward others who might not share their beliefs or perspectives. Tolerance is a minimum requirement, if it at least means not attacking the other, but it is a weak kind of relationship.

      Rev. Cody Saunders points out: “Tolerance says, ‘You shouldn’t be here, but I’ll allow you to exist.’ We commit ourselves to overlooking the offense, the annoyance, the violation to our senses caused by the things and people we merely tolerate. Indeed, toleration is no gift to the tolerated.”[i] Rajiv Malhotra writes in the Huffington Post: “Tolerance was a political “deal” arranged between enemies to quell the violence (a kind of cease-fire) without yielding any ground. Since it was not based on genuine respect for difference, it inevitably broke down. . .”[ii]

rev_kille3Tolerance is a step toward healthier relationships, but it does not go far. Gustav Niebuhr, in his book. Beyond Tolerance, writes: “Tolerance is not enough because there’s no educational component to it. Tolerance doesn’t bust down stereotypes. Tolerance doesn’t put a face on faith.”[iii]

So how might we “put a face on faith”? More and more, people engaged in interfaith relationship-building are turning to the language of “pluralism” to describe the goal. Unlike tolerance, which is really a form of withdrawing from relationship (I promise not to react badly to you), pluralism is a call to engage in relationship.

Pluralism is sometimes used as a synonym for diversity, but in fact, they are different realities. Diversity in this time and place is a given. We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different religious traditions, different places. We are diverse. Diversity is a fact of life. Diversity does not ensure positive relationships among the people and groups that make up the diverse community. We see many examples of people who are threatened by diversity. They know we are a diverse culture, and they hate it. They strike out against differences, seek to limit the rights of others, and declare that those who are different from them are “not American.”

Pluralism is a commitment to engage one another to build a society in with our diversity is appreciated, respected, and mobilized for the good of all. It is active and intentional, not merely resigned to how things are.

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University suggests a few characteristics about pluralism:

  • First, pluralism is not the sheer fact of diversity alone, but is active engagement with that diversity.
  • Second, pluralism is more than the mere tolerance of differences; it requires knowledge of them.
  • Third, pluralism is not simply relativism, but makes room for real and different religious commitments.
  • Fourth, pluralism in America is clearly based on the common ground rules of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “no establishment” of religion and the “free exercise” of religion.
  • Fifth, pluralism requires the nurturing of constructive dialogue to reveal both common understandings and real differences.[iv]

What is called for, says sociologist Robert Wuthnow, is reflective pluralism.”[v] Reflective pluralism “involves acknowledging how and why people are different (and the same), and it requires having good reasons for engaging with people and groups whose religious practices are fundamentally different from one’s own.” He describes some qualities of those who practice this attitude:

  • They are interested in the substantive aspects of pluralism.
  • They develop an identity as a “studier,” as one woman put it.
  • They carefully consider what it means to have a “view.”
  • They consciously seek ways to neutralize objections to pluralism.
  • They emphasize respect.
  • They exhibit a principled willingness to compromise.

Why bother? Everyone has a lot to do these days, and even among those who are sympathetic it can be difficult to make a case for active pluralism. Eboo Patel, the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, has described five “social goods that come from the interfaith encounter: Reduction of prejudice; Increased social cohesion; Increased social capital; Strengthened personal religious commitment; and an increased sense of how the encounter between religions it itself a holy encounter. In this world of “imagined communities,” it is still easier to remain in our separate subgroups and relate to people who are more like us. That kind of isolation has led to a decline in what Robert Putnam calls “social capital”—the “glue” of relationships that hold together the larger community.

Social capital involves three dimensions: attitudes, relationships, and knowledge, and Patel is convinced there is a profound relationship between the three.[vi] It has been demonstrated again and again in surveys that the single most important factor in a person’s attitude toward another group is whether they have had a positive encounter with an individual from that group. Relationship leads to increased knowledge, and improved attitude. Interestingly, the improvement is not only in my attitude toward my friend, but toward all “others.”  The cycle can work the other way as well: much of the mischief done against Muslims, for example, is done by those with no personal relationship and little knowledge or understanding of Islam.

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF DIALOGUE: Leonard Swidler, Professor of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University published “The Dialogue Decalogue” in 1964.  It has been revised slightly over the years to include all manner of inter-group dialogue, but still provides an important framework for the interfaith encounter.[vii]

FIRST COMMANDMENT: The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn, that is, to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality, and then to act accordingly.  Minimally, the very fact that I learn that my dialogue partner believes “this” rather than “that” proportionally changes my attitude toward her; and a change in my attitude is a significant change in me.

Not every encounter between religious traditions qualifies as a dialogue.  As our society becomes increasingly diverse, we are ever more likely to encounter the “other”– someone whose religious faith, experience, practice and identity are different from our own.  So much of religious discussion in our history has been wedded to apologetics (proving that my religion is better than your religion), or to mission (getting you to convert to my religion).  Neither of these attitudes is appropriate or helpful in interfaith dialogue.  At the outset, interfaith dialogue requires of each of us a certain humility.  However true we may believe our religion to be, we must acknowledge that we do not have the whole truth.  And that leaves us open to the possibility that we may be changed by what we have learned from one another.  In fact, there’s no way to enter into a real relationship with any human being without being changed.  Interfaith dialogue challenges us to bring the same willingness to learn and to see things differently that are the hallmarks of any encounter in which we respect the other as a living human being apart from ourselves.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: Interreligious, dialogue must be a two-sided project–within each religious or ideological community and between religious or ideological communities.  Because of the “corporate” nature of interreligious dialogue, and since the primary goal of dialogue is that each partner learn and change himself, it is also necessary that each participant enter into dialogue not only with his partner across the faith line but also with his coreligionists, to share with them the fruits of the interreligious dialogue.  Only thus can the whole community eventually learn and change, moving toward an ever more perceptive insight into reality.

It is often more difficult to talk with members of one’s own religious tradition about interfaith dialogue than it is to talk with people from other religious groups.  To some extent, interfaith dialogues are self-selecting.  If I am interested in reaching out and learning from other traditions, I am likely to encounter those people in the other traditions who have a similar desire to reach out.  Within my own community, however, I may encounter those who feel threatened by, betrayed by, or simply indifferent to interfaith relationships.  For whatever reason– their need to protect certain beliefs, their suspicion of others, their focus on other priorities– they are not themselves immediately ready to engage in dialogue, and may even mistrust my own involvement.  It is perhaps tempting to spend our time with those who are supportive of interfaith dialogue, but in so doing, we relegate interreligious relationships to little more than a sideshow– irrelevant to most within our tradition.  It is only as we engage and encourage those of our own tradition that we weave together the threads of the larger, more inclusive tapestry with all the richness that each of us brings to the encounter.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with complete honesty and sincerity.  It should be made clear in what direction the major and minor thrusts of the tradition move, what the future shifts might be, and, if necessary, where the participant has difficulties with her own tradition.  No false fronts have any place in dialogue.

Conversely–each participant must assume a similar complete honesty and sincerity in the other partners.  Not only will the absence of sincerity prevent dialogue from happening, but the absence of the assumption of the partner’s sincerity will do so as well.  In brief: no trust, no dialogue.

“No trust, no dialogue.” That simple summation says it all.  If we approach one another with suspicion and doubt one another’s sincerity, we may be able to engage in conversation, negotiation, or even diplomacy.  But we are not in dialogue.  Dialogue requires of each participant a certain vulnerability- a willingness to be honest about ourselves and our religious experience, and the willingness to trust that the other is doing the same. That vulnerability can be especially difficult when the discussion touches on areas of our own religious tradition where we ourselves may be having questions, difficulties, or struggles.  We may try to compensate for our own questioning by taking an exaggeratedly dogmatic or forceful stance, or by becoming defensive. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that no one is perfect, and that our resistance or defensiveness may be an unavoidable fact of human experience.  So, too, are occasional resistances or defensiveness in our dialogue partners.  And so we don’t assume that when such times arise that our partner is speaking in bad faith.  If we commit ourselves to being as honest and sincere as we are able, and to presume that our partner is doing the same, new avenues of dialogue can open up as we deepen our understanding both of the other and of ourselves.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: In interreligious dialogue we must not compare our ideals with our partner’s practice, but rather our ideals with our partner’s ideals, our practice with our partner’s practice.

Another way I have heard this phrased is “never compare the best in your own tradition to the worst in the other’s tradition.” As a Christian, I am all too aware of how Christians have failed to live up to the vision of being a ‘spiritual house, … a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) We are not “perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), nor have we all been able to live consistently by the rest of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus understood a profound truth when he said to his disciples in that very sermon, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).  We are all too prone to project our own failings onto others.  Defensively, we deny the very failings in our own lives that we highlight among other traditions. We must be clear when we are talking about the ideals, the goals, and the highest aspirations of each of our religious commitments, and we must be truthful when we talk about the actual practice of human beings within our communities.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must define himself.  Only the Jew, for example, can define what it means to be a Jew.  The rest can only describe what it looks like from the outside.  Moreover, because dialogue is a dynamic medium, as each participant learns, he will change and hence continually deepen, expand, and modify his self-definition as a Jew–being careful to remain in constant dialogue with fellow Jews.  Thus it is mandatory that each dialogue partner define what it means to be an authentic member of his own tradition.
Conversely–the one interpreted must be able to recognize herself in the interpretation

Most of us don’t like it when someone tells us what we’re supposed to be, or believe, or do.  And that’s especially irritating when it comes from someone who doesn’t really understand the complexities or variations that are a part of living out our real lives in relation to our traditions.  One of the most common illusions in interreligious dialogue is that religious traditions are monolithic– that everyone who claims a particular religious tradition will affirm the same thing or have the same experiences and perspectives.

Many who are involved in interfaith dialogue find it more difficult at times to talk with those “of their own house” than with those of a different tradition.  There is tremendous diversity even within a single tradition, and when we enter into dialogue with one another, we must not forget that fact. A technique that is used in communication exercises, such as with couples counseling or community dialogues, is to ask someone to repeat back what they have heard before responding to it.  Often we filter what another has said through our own preconceptions and prejudices.  Before we can enter into genuine conversation, we must ensure that we understand each other as we would wish to be understood.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must come to the dialogue with no hard-and-fast assumptions as to where the points of disagreement are.  Rather, each partner should not only listen to the other partner with openness and sympathy but also attempt to agree with the dialogue partner as far as is possible while still maintaining integrity with his own tradition; where he absolutely can agree no further without violating his own integrity, precisely there is the real point of disagreement–which most often turns out to be different from the point of disagreement that was falsely assumed ahead of time.

This commandment is a corollary of Commandment #5.  If I assume that I know where your tradition and mine will disagree, I am assuming that I know not only what your tradition says about the issue, but what you understand your tradition to say.  I may also approach our discussion with an expectation of conflict and competition, which may keep me on the defensive and not open to hearing what my dialogue partner actually is saying. So much of our religious experience (more than our religious teaching) is surprisingly common.  Religious traditions that grow out of our day-to-day experience of living, that speak to our need for meaning, belonging, compassion and care, are rooted in our common humanity.  It is not, then, surprising that we should find many more points of commonality than we had expected.  As we build a genuine relationship, as we grow in the capability of truly listening to each other, we then lay the groundwork for being able to explore our very real differences without severing our relationship or striking out at each other.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only between equals.  Both must come to learn from each other.  Therefore, if, for example, the Muslim views Hinduism as inferior, or if the Hindu views Islam as inferior, there will be no dialogue.  If authentic interreligious dialogue between Muslims and Hindus is to occur, then both the Muslim and the Hindu must come mainly to learn from each other.  This rule also indicates that there can be no such thing as a one-way dialogue.

Approaching interreligious dialogue as equal partners seems appropriate at first glance.  After all, how can there be a conversation if the participants are not equal? Otherwise it is not a conversation at all; it is indoctrination, apologetics, or a way of establishing or reaffirming relative status between a superior and an inferior.  The inferior may be permitted to speak, but it is a foregone conclusion that the superior’s perspective will be the norm. When we think more about it, though, this requirement becomes more difficult.  If I believe my religion is true, and that it is the right path, how can I allow “competitors”? In fact, in some cases, my religious tradition may explicitly say that others are inferior.  How can I consider another’s tradition to be “equal” to my own? One way to do this has been common in interreligious relations.  It is to say that “all religions are really the same.” Our differences are surface differences at most; they are accidents of history, culture, and tradition.  This is a tempting solution, but isn’t it really an assertion that we are equals only at the lowest common denominator? That the only way we can deal with one another is to strip away all the particularities that make our religious life, community, and culture unique, complex, and rich?

A better way, in my opinion, is to acknowledge that none of us has a corner on truth.  I used to think that the diversity of religious paths was an accident of human frailty, that if somehow we saw clearly, we would all follow the same way.  As my relationships with people of different faiths and paths has grown, I become more convinced that the diversity exists because that is what God (the Creator, the Divine, the Cosmos) intended. It is summed up well in that oft-quoted text from the Qur’an:

[49:13] O People! We created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other.  Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him…

Most of our traditions affirm that human beings are fundamentally equal in that God has created all of us, and that every human being is worthy of respect and dignity.  This, I think, is the foundation that supports our reaching out to one another to enter into dialogue as equals.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust.  Although interreligious dialogue must occur with some kind of “corporate” dimension, that is, the participants must be involved as members of a religious or ideological community, it is also fundamentally true that it is only persons who can enter into dialogue.  But a dialogue among persons can be built only on personal trust.  Hence it is wise not to tackle the most difficult problems in the beginning, but rather to approach first those issues most likely to provide some common ground, thereby establishing the basis of human trust.

Some years ago I attended a talk on “Wiccan/Evangelical Dialogue,” with Brooks Alexander, a committed evangelical Christian and founder of the Spiritual Counterfeits project, and Don Frew, a Wiccan priest and longtime interfaith officer for Covenant of the Goddess.

These two have continued an unlikely friendship and ongoing dialogue for over 20 years.  Their description of how their friendship began illustrates the importance of trust in building dialogue.  Don attended a conference sponsored by conservative Christians on the dangers of the occult.  He found many of the presentations disturbing, filled with misunderstanding and distortions of Wicca.  But he appreciated that, while Brooks did not disguise his belief that Wicca was not the truth, he was well-informed and spoke only the truth about what Wiccans believed and did.  After Don identified himself to the group as a practicing Wiccan, Brooks went out of his way to talk with him, and the conversation has continued since then.  Don and Brooks have shared about their dialogue with interfaith groups, at Neo-pagan conventions, and are hoping to speak to evangelical Christians.

They noted especially the trust that makes their relationship work.  Each trusts the other to be honest about their own tradition, to be willing to reflect in new ways about questions they might never have considered before within their own tradition.  And they trust each other not to twist or manipulate what they learn in order to distort or attack the other’s faith.  Trust is closely connected with several of the “Ten Commandments for Dialogue. ” The dialogue partner must trust that the other is speaking honestly and sincerely (Commandment #3), that the other is willing to be self-critical (Commandment #9), and that the other will not distort or misuse what has been shared (Commandment #4).

ASIDE: HOW NOT TO DIALOGUE: An unfortunate encounter in Stockton offers a clear illustration of how relationships between religious groups can be distorted and barriers to understanding reinforced.  Tarek Mourad, a Muslim engineer from Santa Clara, was invited to speak about Islam at the Cesar Chavez Central Library.  His presentation to a group of about 70 people was interrupted again and again by two women who called him a liar and quoted extensively from a book written by a former Muslim, Why I Left Jihad by Walid Shoebat.[viii]

Imagine, for a moment, that you are speaking about your own religious tradition, only to be told you are lying because what you say does not agree with what someone who has turned his back on that tradition says is the “truth. ” Where do you begin to respond? To Mr.  Mourad’s credit, it seems that he was willing to enter into a conversation with his opponents, but they were not willing to talk with him.

The word “arrogance” derives from a root that can mean something like “without questions.” What arrogance to assume that you know more about another’s religion than they do themselves because you have read a book! Clearly, the women were not interested in interfaith dialogue.  They did not come to learn, they did not assume that Mr.  Mourad was speaking with honesty and sincerity, they did not permit him to define his own religious experience.  They assumed before the event began what the points of disagreement were (demonstrated by the fact that one woman had already copied pages out of Shoebat’s book to pass out), and they were not ready to trust him as an equal partner in dialogue.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Persons entering into interreligious dialogue must be at least minimally self-critical of both themselves and their own religious or ideological traditions.  A lack of such self-criticism implies that one’s own tradition already has all the correct answers.  Such an attitude makes dialogue not only unnecessary, but even impossible, since we enter into dialogue primarily so we can learn–which obviously is impossible if our tradition has never made a misstep, if it has all the right answers.  To be sure, in interreligious dialogue one must stand within a religious or ideological tradition with integrity and conviction, but such integrity and conviction must include, not exclude, a healthy self-criticism.  Without it there can be no dialogue–and, indeed, no integrity.

Sadly, the encounter between two religious traditions often winds up being little more than a contest to see which participant can point out the most flaws in the other’s faith and practice.  Rather than taking a stance of openness to learning about the other, a person may assume that their task is to point out the error of his or her ways.

Under such circumstances, it is understandable why someone might become protective and wary of any criticism.  No matter how valid or important that criticism might be, the fact that it comes from “outside the circle” can move a person to dismiss it or feel that they are under attack.

If the levels of trust in the relationship have been built up with the attitudes called for in the other “Commandments”– honesty, trust, a willingness to hear the other on their own terms, and not idealizing one’s own tradition and putting down the other’s– there can be room for inevitable self-criticism.

In popular usage, “criticism” is usually considered a bad or negative thing, equivalent to devaluing or disrespecting the thing being criticized.  But the root of the word means “to judge” or “evaluate.” Criticism is the process by which we take the measure of something and evaluate it against some standard.

Even if my dialogue partner doesn’t specifically challenge my religious commitments, the mere fact that his or her commitments are different should invite me to reflect on why I believe as I do.  My partner is bound to ask questions about my faith and experience that are not the questions I would ordinarily ask myself, and their perspective will not be the same as mine.

The poet Robert Burns once wrote (in his Scots dialect), “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.” This is the gift that interfaith dialogue has the potential to give.  As far as we can remain open to the other, to their insight and perspective, we receive the gift of seeing ourselves “from outside,” as it were.

If we resist the self-reflection that interfaith dialogue makes possible, we will remain incapable of entering into genuine relationship with one another; we will not be equal participants.  And we will have missed one of the great gifts of interreligious encounter.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant eventually must attempt to experience the partner’s religion or ideology “from within”; for a religion or ideology is not merely something of the head, but also of the spirit, heart, and “whole being,” individual and communal.

This last “commandment” may be scary for some.  Haven’t we said all along that the point of dialogue is not to convert the other to our religion? And yet here Swidler seems to be saying almost the opposite– that some measure of “conversion” is not only necessary for dialogue, but desirable![ix]

And yet, is it not the case that human beings simply cannot fully understand any new piece of information unless they have assimilated it deeply? If we are to learn something new, we always have to start with making analogies to what we already know.  Something that falls completely out of our experience cannot be named, grasped, or expressed.  And so we begin with what we know and seek to understand how this new thing relates to our previous understandings, categories and perceptions.

As we come into closer contact with this new thing, as much as we are able to encounter it on its own terms, we gradually are able to see how it does not fit our preconceptions, how it differs/ contrasts/ challenges what we have known previously.  And finally, this new thing offers us a chance to see things in a new way, to take a new perspective, to incorporate it into the knowledge and experience we will bring to the next new thing.

So it is that a genuine, open, and honest dialogue with someone from another religious tradition opens the way for a new way of seeing.  Not simply converting one point of view into the other, but together discovering another way that allows us to remain true to our different origins, but which is richer for the wider perspective we have gained from each other.

This is the promise of interfaith relations, and the gift that those who embark on this journey come to share. And the Decalogue need not only apply to formal interfaith conversations. A few weeks ago, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, known as “the Pope’s Rabbi,” came to Santa Clara University. He and Cardinal Bergoglio had been friends and colleagues in Buenos Aires, before the Cardinal was chosen as Pope Francis I, and their friendship has continued since. Rabbi Skorka invited the audience to cultivate a “dialogic attitude,” to practice the openness, respect, and appreciation that makes for strong relationship in all our encounters with each other.

[i] Cody J. Sanders, “After Westboro: The Trouble with ‘Tolerance’” Religion Dispatches, http://religiondispatches.org/after-westboro-the-trouble-with-tolerance/

[ii] Rajiv Malhotra, “Tolerance Isn’t Good Enough: The Need for Mutual Respect in Interfaith Relations” Huffpost Religion, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/hypocrisy-of-tolerance_b_792239.html

[iii] Gustav Niebuhr, Beyond Tolerance (Viking, 2008).

[iv] Diana L. Eck, “What is Pluralism?” at The Pluralism Project, http://www.pluralism.org/pluralism/what_is_pluralism

[v] Robert Wuthnow, America and the Challeges of Religious Diversity (Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 289-292.

[vi] Eboo Patel, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, (Beacon Press, 2012), p. 79.

[vii] http://institute.jesdialogue.org/resources/tools/decalogue/

[viii] Jeff Hood, “Critics interrupt speaker’s talk on Islam,” Stockton Record January 21, 2007. http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070121/A_NEWS/701210322

[ix] In the question and answer time, Rod Cardoza suggested that, rather than “conversion,” it might be better to describe it as “holy envy”—identifying aspects of another’s tradition that you might wish were incorporated in your own. I fully agree. See “Krister Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding,” on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krister_Stendahl




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