Called to Be Neighbors and Witnesses: Guidelines for Interreligious Relationships
“Even though Jews, Christians and Muslims share the same covenant, in many of our cities and towns we continue to live as strangers to each other. A positive foundation from which to connect with persons in other faith communities is recognition of some of the gifts they bring to the human community. For instance, through Judaism, Christians can connect to the covenantal faithfulness of God; Islam illustrates the joy of life lived in obedience to God’s will; the spiritualities of indigenous peoples encourage a deep reverence for God’s natural creation; Buddhism offers contemplative ways to connect to the divine; and Hinduism in its varieties brings the gift of tolerance. Engaging in dialogue with positive expectation offers the possibility of sharing mutually beneficial spiritual gifts as well as overcoming past hostilities.”
This is a short paragraph from a document I found on the United Methodist Church website. One of the most important aspects of interreligious dialoue is the need to affirm the gifts others do bring to the human community.
I’ve been thinking about a whole new way of being open to the other. The abundance of grace and beauty that is yet to be affirmed. And it doesn’t contradict the integrity of one belief system. Because the belief itself is characterised by openness, diversity, infinite horizons, multiple possibilities. As much as there is good to affirm in the lives of others, other cultures, other faiths, other perspectives, there is the not so good that needs to be recognised in our own identities. Living life with a certain openness, engaged with others, respecting the value and importance of difference, is one way to guard against superiority. The division between good and evil runs not between us and them, but through us. Every human heart is broken and beautiful. Every expression of faith, by definition, requires another voice, perspective. We depend upon others for our sense of being in this world. Our very unique spiritualities are shaped by countless others, whether we choose to recognise them or not. We are, together, beautiful.