Comment put on Rabbi Brad Hirschfields blog ‘Pope Says No To Inter-Religious Dialogue’
I recently had a chance to read Abraham Joshua Heschel’s treatise called ‘No Religion is an Island’ (published Jan 1966)…and it speaks to this convo.
“”Perhaps it is the will of God that in this aeon there should be diversity in our forms of devotion and commitment to Him. In this aeon diversity of religions is the will of God…It seems that the prophet proclaims that men all over the world, though they confess different conceptions of God, are really worshipping One God, the Father of all men, though they may not be aware of it” (Heschel)
I think religious inter-faith dialogue is not only possible – but something that may very well be the will of God (for this age and time). I do not think we have to put our faith on the back-burner to accept someone of another faith – we just need to start realizing we all want the same thing in this world – guidance from God dedicated to the importance of humanity.
I was very saddened to read Hirschfield’s blog on the massacre in India – now the Pope doesn’t back inter-faith dialogue – these are setbacks but point to the real problem to true dialogue – people holding their beliefs above the value of the human race.
I have no problem with what many of the big world religions across the world believe as their ‘statements of faith’ – there is very little problem with those things. However, they do become problematic when people start to idolize their religion – put their statement of beliefs above human importance.
I have friends from a variety of faith backgrounds (and even non-faiths) and we all understand a very simple thing – what is important in human relations. Respect, treat others how you want to be treated, love people as yourself, etc…the essence of faith is captured in one’s treatment of other people (not in religious statements). I am not saying we all need to be alike – we in some ways – already are…it starts with being human.
Think about those global faiths and what they truly want – divine connection with humanity in some way, shape, or form. Aren’t they all seeking kind of the same thing – the best life for humanity via their religious teachings? The true concern I see in most faiths is for the betterment of the human individual – and this is attested to by each faith’s connection to God…God wants that also.
So, why can’t we start talking about humanity and it’s betterment through our faiths? If we learn to focus on how we treat one another and seeking avenues that better humanity (which I think is most faith’s pivotal role and mission) – we will also learn that we can talk and befriend each other – as friends and equals. We have sooooo much in common but have such closed eyelids.
I think the Pope and these extremist Muslims in the 2 cases serve as a warning to all faiths – no faith is an island anymore – what happens with them will effect all of us now (as global representatives of faith movements). The world got smaller in the last 10 years – thanks to the internet and media. People attacking faith are no longer attacking specific faith systems – but faith in general. The more divisive we remain – the more chance we have of seeing faiths becoming ’empty’ or ‘meaningless’.
Maybe it is God’s will we all speak with one another and that we each start learning one another’s story – to prevent close mindedness in our faiths (or worse violence leading to division) and start showing faith does have a prominent place in the human society.