08 May 2013

Staying in the conversation: Religious differences

I was pleased to find that Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has a Canadian website that is complementary to but different from the very good US based site.

Check out stayintheconversation.org/rzimcanada for articles, discussions and information about whether Christianity is a crutch, if Jesus rose from the dead, whether Christian faith is reasonable at all, or not.

I'll recommend the site at an event on campus today where we will have a Muslim scholar and a Christian scholar each respond to a set of questions so the audience can compare the similarities and differences side-by-side, so to speak. Of course, each of the scholars will not only represent their faiths, but also their own affiliations within that faith tradition, and their own personal understandings and perspectives. Generalities are generally wrong, so it's good to break it down and realise that even within the major groupings there is much diversity and much room for conversation and respect of difference.

Engaging, not combative.
Conversations about differences help us understand where the other person is coming from. Seeking common ground and an understanding of difference can be interesting and enriching. Such conversations create community.

In our multi-cultural global economies, we need community based on more than ethnicity and religion. Cities across Europe, North America and around the Pacific have Sikhs living next to Buddhists who work with Muslims and play soccer with Christians. We do business with people from other continents, other language groups and world views. It takes a bit of effort sometimes to understand without assuming.

If we can lessen the ignorance, we can lessen the fear.
Sometimes that fear is a fear of offending. That's a kind and generous apprehension out of respect for the other person. But if that fear is an obstacle to relationship, it's still a divisive and alienating factor.

A malignant fear, on the other hand, breeds all kinds of social ills. Such fear resides in every religion, but is not usually taught as the ideal of any religion.

So, staying in the conversation is important.
Being respectfully curious is important.
Respecting difference while seeking common ground is important.

Sharing this big globe is a necessity; doing it well is our choice.


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