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Importance of a World Forum of the Faith Communities

Importance of a World Forum of the Faith Communities


1. World Council of Religious Leaders (WCRL)

(Millennium Peace Summit 2000 in New York, 2002 in Bangkok)

(Inaugural Meeting of the Steering Council October 22-24, 2001)

Background (text published by the WCRL)
Over the years, many leaders, both religious and secular, have recognized the need to create an entity that would address critical world issues from the perspective of the faith traditions. By bringing together the leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and Indigenous traditions, the human community can begin to draw upon the collective wisdom and universal moral and spiritual principles that are the bedrock of all the great religions.

    Over the past few decades, interreligious dialogue and relations have advanced to the point where such an entity is no longer an ideal but a concept whose time has come. It took two world wars to give birth to the United Nations. During the last few decades, it has taken numerous conflicts involving religion to make concrete the need for a World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders.

    The creation of this World Council was one of the fundamental purposes for organizing the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in August 2000. The goal has been to create a body of religious leaders that would work in close coordination with the United Nations, to bring the spiritual repository of the human community to the solving of critical world problems. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan fully recognizes and appreciates the value religious leaders bring to the political equation. Indeed, there growing acknowledgment that there will not be peace in this world without the leadership and cooperation of the religions, which cross national boundaries and have far greater reach than most political bodies.

    The tragedy of September 11, 2001 has created a new urgency as the world faces the danger of realignment along religious lines. As diversity grows in communities around the world, so too does intolerance of differences. These threats are also hastening the opposite – the emergence of a reinforced commitment to find the common voice within religion – the central universal values that would form the basis for a new global vision. The need for a World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders is clearer today than it was one year ago. The challenge now is to move from concept to reality.


2. A World Body for the World Religions ?

A Historical Perspective by Rev. Marcus Braybrooke

A paper submitted to the International Interfaith Centre Conference at Oxford on 20.3.1996


NB. Because of the presentation date of 1996, please note that that some places need adaptation.


'There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come' (1). The idea of a United Religions Organization or a World Council of Religions is not new. It may be sensible to look back and see why previous initiatives have failed to realize the hopes of those who had this dream so that, God willing, we may be more successful at this moment of both crisis and opportunity.

The World Congress of Faiths

The hope for a new world order is a recurrent theme in the wartime writings of Sir Francis Younghusband who founded the World Congress of Faiths. A religious basis, he insisted, was essential for the new world order. In one of his chairman's letters, he referred to the efforts of Rudolf Otto, best known for his book The Idea of the Holy, to create an Inter-Religious League as a parallel to the League of Nations. In a subsequent letter, he referred to a book by Professor Norman Bentwich, called The Religious Foundation of Internationalism in which Bentwich expounded in detail the idea of a League of Religions. At a subsequent meeting, Bentwich said the idea had a long history. Leibnitz had propounded it and so had Rousseau. Then, quite independently, on April 4th 1943, Dr George Bell, the Bishop of Chichester. spoke in the House of Lords of 'the acceptance of an absolute law with a common ethos to be secured in the dealings of nations with each other' and 'of an association between the International Authority and representatives of the living religions of the world;. The Bishop was subsequently invited to submit his proposal to the Executive of WCF. In a letter dated April 17th 1943, recognizing that the League of Nations lacked a supporting religious body, he wrote 'my idea was whether there could be some group officially recognized of representatives of all religions'. The WCF Executive asked Dr Bell to set up a private committee to examine the proposal in detail and to report back. The Committee included, Lord Perth, late Secretary General of the League of Nations, Lord Samuel, Sir S. Runganadhan, Indian High Commissioner, Baron Palmstierna and M .Mo'een Al-Arab, Secretary of the Royal Egyptian Embassy in London. After several meetings it was unanimously agreed to ask WCF to circulate the Three-Faith Declaration on World Peace. The American Three Faith Declaration had been issued in October 1943 over some 140 signatures of authoritative leaders of the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish communities.

The Declaration proclaimed:

1. That the moral law must govern the world order.

2. That the rights of the individual must be assured.

3. That the rights of the oppressed, weak or coloured (sic) peoples, must be protected.

4. That the rights of minorities must be secured.

5. That international institutions to maintain peace with justice must be organised.
6. That international economic co-operation must be developed.

7. That a just social order within each state must be achieved.

In Britain, the statement gained the support of the Council of Christians and Jews. The Bishop of Chichester's committee invited WCF to make the Declaration and Statement known to religious leaders of the world and to enlist their support. This was done through embassies, legations and rectors of foreign churches in London. By mid 1946, one thousand and fifty copies had been despatched. Several copies sent to European countries were returned by the censor. WCF kept Dr Lois Finkelstein of the Jewish Theological Seminary of the USA, who was one of the original signatories, informed of the response. Pamphlet 27 of 1946, shows an interesting range of supporters, including the Sheikh of the Mosque at Mecca, as well as Muslim leaders from Iraq and Syria. The Dewan of Travancore affirmed his sympathy as did the Raja of Aundh. The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj published the document in full in its newsletter. The Archbishop of Sweden, after consultation with the Swedish Ecumenic Committee, expressed his whole-hearted agreement. There was little backing for the initiative from most Christian leaders. The Communist block prevented the United Nations from any public endorsement of religious principles. A reception was arranged for members of UN delegations during the first meeting of the Assembly in London in 1946 to tell them about the Declaration, but only a few people turned up. WCF had done all it could, but religious leaders failed to build on this initiative.

    In 1953, there is a report in the WCF archives of a meeting of a member of WCF, Heather McConnell, with Mr R. C. Roper, Executive Vice-President of the World Parliament of Religions. This had been founded in February 1952, at the Presbyterian Labour Temple, New York. The aim was to establish a permanent World Parliament of Religions to work with a permanent United Nations to stop war and the causes of war and to extend the more abundant life among all peoples on earth. A leaflet describes the distinguishing features of the organization:
1. This is a movement of individuals ... of individuals...

2. This movement for peace through cooperation of governments and religions is unique in all history. Governments, acting alone, cannot stop war and the causes of war. Religious, divided and competing, cannot stop war or the causes of war. But - governments, acting together, through the United Nations and religions, acting together, through a permanent World Parliament, both cooperation, can stop war and the causes of war.

3. This movement seeks to affiliate the moral and spiritual forces of the religions of the world, upon the basis of their common unities . . .  

4. There are a few subsequent references in the WCF archives to this organization and rather more to the World Alliance of Religions, but neither initiative seems to have had a lasting impact (2).

The Temple of Understanding

The Temple of Understanding in its first years held a number of Spiritual Summit Conferences to parallel the Summit Conferences of world leaders. At the second such meeting, in Geneva in 1970, on the theme 'Practical Measures for World Peace', it was agreed to establish a 'Continuing Conference on World Religions', 'to promote understanding and enduring appreciation of the different faiths, and to bring to bear all the resources at our disposal toward the solution of human problems, both personal and social'. Nothing came of this resolution, although the Temple of Understanding, through a variety of activities and the many contacts of its energetic International Director, Father Luis Dolan, has continued itself to bring religious influence to bear upon the work of the United Nations (3). In 1995, the Temple of Understanding, with a Council of Religious and Interfaith Organizations, took the initiative in arranging services in New York to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.

The World Conference on Religion and Peace

It is interesting in this context to recall the original vision of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. Dr Homer Jack quotes the dreams of several of the founders. For example, Shri R. R. Diwaker said, 'What seems necessary today is ...concentrated effort for peace by a kind of united religious organization of the whole world'. Dr Jack, with characteristic honesty, then analyzed reasons why WCRP has failed to live up to the initial high vision. 'The vision of the founders of WCRP was not modest' he concludes, 'for they hoped to engage all world religions everywhere in peacemaking and peacekeeping activities...The first two decades has lowered the expectations... despite a few successes, WCRP remains a modest organization'. He suggests several reasons why WCRP may not have lived up to its founders' vision.

    "First was the 'representativity' of board members of WCRP and especially some of its influential chapters When WCRP was established, its leaders acted as individuals and not as official representatives of their religious organizations. They were more free to act on controversial war/peace situations. Today there is more talk in WCRP of representativity - even though this has not shown itself in financial statements of the organizations. Yet even discussion of representativity seems to weaken the courage which is needed for the organization to take risks. A second brake on WCRP activity may be the fact that the present leaders have little detailed knowledge of the history of the organization... A third factor ... perhaps is a change in priorities. Ironically the adoption of a holistic definition of peace may have diluted the organization's focus and urgency. Peace is not just the absence of war; it is fulfilled only when its many causes are eradicated - from poverty to discrimination. And yet if WCRP devotes itself to each of these "root causes", its holistic nature makes it diffuse. Attention to everything from apartheid to Zionism can result in WCRP losing sight sometimes of its "war against war" and the necessity to oppose war from every angle. A fourth and final deterrent to prophecy may be the very professionalism all organizations seek for sheer efficiency... Among the other dangers for the future of WCRP are that it might emphasize religion to the exclusion of peace and that it might emphasize study rather than action" (4).

A World Council of Faiths

In each decade of the UN, a similar suggestion for a world religious body has emerged. In 1986, a meeting of representatives of international interfaith organizations was held at Ammerdown, near Bath. There was a call for the establishment of a 'World Council of Faiths'. The plan was to bring together the main international interfaith organizations, identified as the International Association for Religious Freedom, the World Congress of Faiths, the Temple of Understanding and the World Conference of Religions for Peace, into one world body - rather in the way that forty years before the World Council of Churches was formed by the merging of Faith and Order, Life and Work and the International Missionary Council. It was recognized that the organizations had different emphases and that these were complementary. Their offices were located in different parts of the world, so a world structure might be established. The creation of a united organization would avoid competitive requests for funding, it would reduce the many demands on religious leaders to attend international conferences. One world body would make it easier for other international organizations to consult the religious world and also make it easier for members of one religion to consult members of others and to engage in joint work. Despite some discussion following the first Ammerdown conference there was little enthusiasm for the suggestion. The idea of a World Council of Faiths re-emerged in the early nineties. The Won Buddhists and then Dr John Taylor, formerly Secretary General of WCRP, made suggestions, which were taken up by Sir Sigmund Sternberg, Chair of the International Council of Christians and Jews, in an address at the Chicago Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993. Similar suggestions were made in several places during the 1993 Year of Inter-religious Understanding and Co-operation.

Since 1993

Since the l993 Chicago Parliament several initiatives have been taken. In Chicago, The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions has been established. Besides work in the metropolitan area of Chicago, the Council has an international program, with Dr Jim Kenney as the Director. The Council plans to hold periodic 'Parliaments of Religion' in different parts of the world. (A similar suggestions was made in 1893). It is hoped that the first such Parliament will be held in South Africa in 1999. An Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders will be convened in 1997. The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions also continues to promote the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic, which was issued at the 1993 Parliament.

    In 1995, the Peace Council held its first meeting at Windsor Castle, near London. Dr Daniel Gomez-Ibanez, who was Executive Director of the Chicago Parliament, took the initiative and is the Peace Council' s first Director. At the heart of the Peace Council is a simple idea: a forum where about 25 religious and spiritual individuals who are internationally known and respected and who want to work together to overcome centuries of misunderstanding, division and violence meet and agree to support each other's work for peace. Initially, in response to a call from Maha Ghosananda, the Council is supporting calls for a ban on land mines. The next meeting of the Council, at the invitation of Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, will be in Mexico in November 1996.
    Recently, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of United Nations' Charter in San Francisco has occasioned the proposal from Bishop Swing for a
United Religions Organization. The intention is to provide the world's religions with a permanent gathering place where, through daily prayer, dialogue and action, they may use their spiritual and moral resources for the good of all life on this earth. Other initiatives, such as Interfaith International could be mentioned as well as those, such as the Alliance of Religions for Conservation, which focus on a particular issue could be mentioned. Other existing bodies, such as WCRP, which held its Sixth Assembly in Italy in 1994, the World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils, which is planning an international conference in India in August of this year and the International Association for Religious Freedom, which will hold its 29th Congress in Korea, also this August.

What hope of success?

Is a new initiative, such as the United Religions Organization, needed and likely to be successful. I am sympathetic to the ideal, but I cannot avoid asking why previous attempts have been unsuccessful. Maybe we can avoid the mistakes of our predecessors, maybe this is the 'window of opportunity'. There are several reasons to think this is an opportune moment:
1. The dangers of religious extremism are now seen as an important item on the political agenda - it is not just a concern for religious professionals.

2. The collapse of communism has made the UN open to religious influence in an unprecedented way. Many people working in UN agencies now recognize that there is a spiritual and moral dimension to the great problems facing our world.

3. The interfaith movement has a new outward-looking concern. The l993 Chicago Parliament was shaped to address the critical issues of our day. Much earlier interfaith work had to be directed at removing ignorance and prejudice and at encouraging religions to rethink their attitude to each other.

4. A growing number of religious leaders recognize the importance of inter-religious understanding and cooperation, as well as the dangers of religious extremism and hostility.

    I am not clear whether we need a new organization, whether we should seek to develop an existing organization, most obviously WCRP, or find a means for all engaged in interfaith work to, on occasion, be able to speak together. The difficulty of a new organization is to see how it will make the break-through that other bodies have failed to achieve. It would need the initiative and energy of the leaders of several religions - not just their names on the notepaper. It would need, to my mind, also the active backing and involvement of political and economic leaders. It could not just be a 'religious' body. The problem of building on an existing organization is that it requires of that organization great flexibility and a willingness to treat others as equal partners. The difficulty of a co-operative structure of interfaith organizations is whether it can have the authority to make an impact. The International Interfaith Centre can become a useful place of information about interfaith work, but it has no mandate to speak for the interfaith movement. In Britain, the relief agencies do come together as a 'Disaster Committee' to present a joint appeal to the public when there is a disaster. Different organizations can work together for particular purposes, as some did to promote Sarva Dharma Sammelana. The experience of preparing for that conference in Bangalore suggested that there are many approaches to interfaith work. Organizations have their own particular emphasis. They may also have their own constituencies. I doubt whether those who take initiatives want to be subject to someone else's control. Often the founding figure of a group is a charismatic leader who inspires a number of followers. There are I think several concerns that plans for a United Religions Organization needs to address.

Concerns to address

Such an organization may be bureaucratic and seem too 'Western'. It should certainly be multi-centred, that is to say with major offices in each of the continents, so that control did not appear to rest with the West. There are also fears that some people might try to manipulate such a council for political purposes. There remains too the suspicion in some quarters that a World Council of Faiths might become an attempt to create one world religion. There are serious questions about who would constitute the leadership of a World Council of Faiths.

I was sent once a small 'dictionary' of religious leaders. In the introduction, it was said that no one who qualified would have thought of himself or herself as a religious leader. Humility should be the quality of a truly religious person. In some religions there are clearly designated leaders - the most obvious example being the Pope and Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. Other religions, especially Hinduism, are not structured in this way. Is religious leadership determined by the office held or the spiritual authority of a person? - sometimes the two coincide. In planning any major interfaith conference, the question of whom to invite is a major concern. Usually it is clear that participants speak for themselves, but will what they say be recognized and owned by other members of their faith community? I cannot think of any religion that one would describe as a ' united religion' . Indeed, what communities do you recognize as religious? This was a problem at the Chicago Parliament, where the presence of some new religious movements caused the Orthodox Churches to leave the Parliament. There are splinter groups which the main religious community refuse to recognize. For example, Muslims do not accept the claims of members of the Ahmadiyya movement to be Muslims. These are only some of the complexities. Yet if the voice of the religions is to be heard the need for an effective mechanism remains. There are those who picture quite a small body of spiritual leaders who would be listened to because of their personal authority and the wisdom of what they say. Others look for a big representative body which would have authority because it spoke for a large number of religious people. Some bodies, which I prefer to call multifaith rather than interfaith organizations, focus on a particular issue, such as the environment or the victims of torture. At times, there is the suspicion that religions are being enlisted to serve a predetermined cause. Yet Homer Jack's cautionary note that a holistic body may become diffuse needs to be remembered. The variety of initiatives now being proposed is evidence of the growing awareness of the need for religious people together to contribute to efforts to meet the great crises facing the world. Many at the United Nations now recognize that issues such as population-control, the environment and world poverty have a spiritual and moral dimension. They require a wider consciousness and determination if they are to be tackled. Their solution may involve important changes in life style. Religious leaders may not be able to propose detailed solutions but they can help create an international conscience that demands effective political action.

This leads to my final consideration: How effective are religions in promoting peace and justice? It has been a persistent hope in the interfaith movement that people of faith should be able to act for reconciliation in situations of conflict. This has in fact proved very difficult. Those engaged in hostilities are reluctant to listen to outside voices. Sometimes religious difference is one of the causes of conflict and those involved will expect their co-religionists to identify with them. This is why an interfaith appeal from outside or a visiting interfaith delegation may be helpful. In some situations, religious people of different traditions may already be working for reconciliation, but be rejected by others in their own community. In such cases the main service those outside can offer may be to assure those who work for reconciliation that they are not forgotten. People of faith can help to shape public opinion and so to influence political decisions. Politicians are reluctant to admit their debt to others, but sufficient public demand will result in action. This has been seen in increased overt concern by governments on environmental issues, although there is a suspicion that sometimes the purpose of international conferences seems to be how to evade action and, on returning home, how to avoid acting on resolutions that have been passed. This is why sustained pressure from the religious communities is required and why there needs to be an effective instrument for this. There is a danger that religions will be used by politicians for their purposes rather than that they will influence politicians. Religious influence is often weakened by religious disagreement. There is a need for people of different faiths to meet together and to discuss in detail the complex moral and ethical issues that face our world with those with expertise in the particular concerns. It is easier to agree on the need to end poverty than on the methods of birth control that may be necessary to achieve this. If people of faith are to speak together on vital issues, then there has to be more on-going and detailed work. There has to be an understanding of the religious, philosophical, historical and cultural backgrounds which shape the approaches of different faith communities as well as adequate expertise on the issue discussed.

    It is said of the United Religions Organization that 'the prime purpose for uniting the world's religions into a global organization is to eliminate violence in the name of religion, race or ethnicity'. An organization that makes this its primary task will have plenty of work to do. I hope any new organization will have a distinct focus, whilst recognizing that its long term objectives will only be achieved if it works closely with many other related bodies. Until religions clearly renounce violence, their creative contribution to building a new world order will be ignored. To many people today, religion is a threat rather than a promise and the public perception of religion as a cause of division and hostility is a disincentive to faith. If a United Religions Organization can purge the religions of what distorts and corrupts their witness, it can unblock the channels through which the healing wisdom of the great spiritual traditions will flow into our world.                                                                    

Notes:

1. From an anonymous author in Nation, 15.4.1943, but a similar idea was voiced by Victor Hugo in Histoire d'un Crime, written 1851-2, but not published until 1877, part 5, section 10.

2. A fuller account and references are to be found in my forthcoming A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths, Oneworld Publications l996.

3. See my Pilgrimage of Hope, SCM Press 1992, especially Part VII.

4. Homer A Jack, WCRP: A History , 1993, pp. 396-403.



3. A United Faith Communities Organisation (UFCO)

Lucien Cosijns


The 20th century has been a turbulent period in the history of our world with many changes in the way of life especially in in Western countries. This century will be remembered because of remarkable growth in the world unity by the creation of at least ten international organizations in the political, financial and commercial sectors, towards the end of the century the creation of the European Union, and the changing of a mentality of confrontation into a mentality of collaboration with the word “dialogue” becoming most commonly and universally used in all sectors of public life. (see in my website my texts World Forum of the Faith Communities and Global Changes in the Faith Communities)

    The Catholic Church went through an upheaval of substantial changes which started with a new more scientifically based Bible interpretation in the 40ties, followed by the Second Vatican Council in 1962~1965 with as consequences the conversion in the liturgical language from Latin to the vernacular languages and the declaration of respect for other religions and cultures. In the same period people in the western world changed from a centuries long stable belief in church authorities into an acceptance of the individual personal conscience and knowledge as a basis for one’s behavior, and with as a by-product a growing disobeying of former precepts and prohibitions and a lesser belief in dogmas. These are revolutionary changes which have had their influences on other Christian and even non-Christian religions.

    Our world went also through two brutal world wars with 80 million war victims and all kinds of other conflicts in an age still of confrontation rather than of collaboration and dialogue.


In our current 21st century, our world is still faced with the problems of an escalating gap between rich and poor, the poverty of 20% of the world population, the globalization process as a way of no return with however its negative side-effects, the millions of refugees in refugee camps or on the run from local conflicts, and worldwide the migration flood from the poorer to the richer nations. The world’s political, financial, and industrial leaders acknowledge that something needs to be done. Most of them, however, reluctantly follow the war on terrorism policy of the US, but neglect to follow the insistent appeal of among many others, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, to pay more attention to correcting the roots which are at the origin of terrorists actions.

    The faith communities, in cooperation with the non-governmental organizations, could speed up the process of dialogue by carrying out the necessary role of pressing and pushing political leaders to arrive at a more efficient collaboration to convert the war on terrorism into a global effort to do something about the harm done to the growing number of refugees and about many of the socio-economic structures which are at the origin of the trend of violence and of most of the problems which our world is still facing today.

    The interest in and the attendance at the meetings of the Interfaith Dialogue Movement in almost all countries have expanded in recent years in such a way that it can be called a world global movement.


The time is getting ripe for the idea of the creation of a global forum of the faith communities (religions as well as other traditions and humanist convictions). In step with the growth of worldwide globalization in the political, commercial and financial world, this project should become an issue of primary importance and could become THE historical event of the 21st century, by the creation of a United Faith Communities Organization (UFCO). From the 228 world countries in 2006, 192 nations have united in the UNO without having to change their identities. Why could this not become a reality for the world of faith communities?

    Many organizations involved in interreligious dialogue have thought it useful if not necessary to have an affiliation with the UNO. In 2004, there were some 130 organizations and ngo’s (non-government organization), 36 of Europe, 50 of the US, 20 0f Asia & the Middle East, 18 of Africa, 3 of Latin America and the Caribbean, and 4 of Oceania, which have an affiliated relationship with the United Nations. One may wonder if it is the right way for religions and religious organizations to link themselves so closely to the political world, and whether such an affiliation does not run the risk of becoming too closely bound to the political world. The history of the past centuries has shown that religions had better avoid whatever close links with the political world, which has lead to our present separation of church and state in most democratic nations. This is another reason why a United Faith Communities Organization (UFCO) should remain outside the UNO as a separate independent organization. As an acceptable discussion party to the UNO, and with the support of their billions of adherents, UFCO should be the way to come to a constructive and creative collaboration with the political world towards more effective ways to improve the problems of our world.

    In recent years we have seen the creation of councils of religious leaders such as the World Council of Religious Leaders, created in 2001 after the Millennium World Peace Summit in New York, the European Council of Religious Leaders created by the World Conference of Religions for Peace in 2002 and the Board of World Religious Leaders supported by the Eliyah Interfaith Institute of Israel in 2003. These three organizations may be proud of an impressive member list of religious personalities belonging to the main religions of the world and should become the step stones towards the creation of a United Faith Communities Organization as a ‘combined force’ of the faith communities of the world.

    A next step could be the selection of a limited group of religious leaders from the members of these 3 above-mentioned councils, joined by personalities from humanist and other convictions, to form the first nucleus of a qualified representative United Faith Communities Organization.

   

Finally a quotation from Leonard Swidler in his Toward a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic (his website http://www.jsri.ro/old/html%20version/index/no_7/leonardswidler-articol.htm):

“At the same time the world has been slowly, painfully emerging from the millennia-long Age of Monologue into the Age of Dialogue. As noted above, until beginning a century or so ago, each religion, and then ideology--each culture--tended to be very certain that it alone had the complete "explanation of the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly." Then through the series of revolutions in understanding, which began in the West but ultimately spread more and more throughout the whole world, the limitedness of all statements about the meaning of things began to dawn on isolated thinkers, and then increasingly on the middle and even grass-roots levels of humankind: The epistemological revolutions of historicism, pragmatism, sociology of knowledge, language analysis, hermeneutics, and finally dialogue.

Now that it is more and more understood that the Muslim, Christian, secularist, Buddhist, etc. perception of the meaning of things is necessarily limited, the Muslim, Christian, secularist, etc. increasingly feels not only no longer driven to replace, or at least dominate, all other religions, ideologies, cultures, but even drawn to enter into dialogue with them, so as to expand, deepen, enrich each of their necessarily limited perceptions of the meaning of things. Thus, often with squinting, blurry eyes, humankind is emerging from the relative darkness of the "Age of Monologue" into the dawning "Age of Dialogue"--dialogue understood as a conversation with someone who differs from us primarily so we can learn, because of course since we now growingly realize that our understanding of the meaning of reality is necessarily limited, we might learn more about reality's meaning through someone else's perception of it.”

*   *   *   *

Compiled in 2008 by


Lucien F. Cosijns, Binnensteenweg 240/A26, 2530 Boechout, Belgium
Tel. +32 3 455.6880    lfc.cosijns@gmail.com
 www.interfaithdialoguebasics.be


Heading Symbols

Buddhism, Baha'i, Indigenous Traditions, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, 

Jainism, Judaism, Shintō, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Sikhism.

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