Friday, February 08, 2013

Interfaith and Religious Difference: A Dialogue About Dialogue

My latest essay at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos is now online. It is titled "Interfaith and Religious Difference: A Dialogue About Dialogue." The point of departure for the piece is a 2007 episode of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on the interfaith work of Eboo Patel and his Interfaith Youth Core. In my essay I interact with his discussion of a space between the public and private dimensions of faith in his approach among students involved in interfaith. From the essay:
Third, I would argue that this is one of the weaknesses of interfaith approaches, and that an important dimension is missing that would strengthen his worthwhile interfaith activities among America's youth. There are many interfaith organizations and approaches to bringing adherents of various religious traditions together. Many come from the more progressive end of the spectrum, and they advocate a downplaying or ignoring of contradictory and competing religious truth claims. As Stephen Prothero has noted in his book God is Not One, this way of working toward the resolution of religious conflict can be a huge problem:
"The Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century popularized the ideal of religious tolerance, and we are all doubtless better for it. But the idea of religious unity is wishful thinking nonetheless, and it has not made the world a safer place. In fact, this naive theological groupthink -- call it Godthink -- has made the world more dangerous."  
Instead of this form of interfaith I suggest religious diplomacy as the better way forward. The essay can be read here.

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