Guidelines for Inter-Religious Dialogue
Practical suggestions for successful interfaith dialogue
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In recent decades more and more people have realised that in our globalised world, cultural and religious plurality is here to stay. This plurality can enrich us all. But suspicion and fear of other cultures and religions is still actively present among us. Tolerating difference needs inner strength and fundamental goodwill. This goodwill must include the readiness to respect other people and their concerns and take them seriously. The Inter-Religious Think-Tank responsible for these Guidelines is a group of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women, who have all been active for years in the field of interfaith dialogue. The Guidelines are aimed at helping people who are just starting out to plan interfaith projects and events. But they are also aimed at people who have been engaged in interfaith dialogue for some time, and may have experienced every now and again that they have done or said something dysfunctional – they are aware that they have “dropped a brick”, but do not quite understand what happened. Examples taken from the praxis of dialogue situations will show where stumbling blocks are liable to be found, and how we can avoid them. One special feature of these Guidelines is that it has been written by Jewish, Christian and Muslim women working together.
- 1.1 Who wants inter-religious dialogue, and why?
- 1.2 Who is in conversation with whom?
- 1.3 What is the conversation about?
- 1.4 What is the purpose of inter-religious dialogue?
- 1.5 Political conflict as a subtext
- 1.6 Diversity and differences within religious communities
- 1.7 Anxieties, and memories of insult and injury
- 2.1 If a dialogue is to go well it will depend on the dialogical attitudes of the participants
- 2.2 Radical respect for your opposite number is fundamental
- 2.3 Be aware of structural asymmetry, and take measures to counteract it
- 2.4 Give up thinking you have the power to make or use unilateral definitions. Respect other peoples’ interpretation of what they think and do
- 2.5 Remember, we are all learners, and learning all the time
- 2.6 Seeing things from a different perspective takes practiceo2.6 Seeing things from a different perspective takes practice
- 2.7 Learn to see ourselves as others see us
- 2.8 Make your own basic assumptions clear, and suspend judgement on what others may say
- 2.9 Respond to problems and disruptions in discussion as soon as they occur
- 2.10 Speak from the heart!
- 2.11 Remember, each language is different!
- 2.12 Slow down!
- 2.13 Recognise what you have in common, and acknowledge where you differ
- 2.14 Be fair! Compare like with like
- 2.15 Plan interfaith events in an interfaith way!
- 2.16 Exercise care and sensitivity in the organisation of interfaith celebrations
- 1. What is the starting-point?
- 2. Organisational questions / framework
- 3. Questions of content
- 4. Conclusions and evaluation