Friday, November 7, 2008
From the Guardian in London. Reflections on interfaith dialogue and living in community.
While some engage in dialogue to the point of self-sacrifice it is worth noting that dialogue is not the exclusive preserve of the church or other faith communities. Nor is it to be limited to high-level relations and negotiations. In recent years, university departments have called together representatives of different faith communities to work on shared analyses of their texts, to which the Cambridge University "Common Word" project pays eloquent testimony. Identifying what separates and is difficult in a tradition's texts is as significant as recognising shared scriptures.
But essentially, the most crucial dialogue is the daily interaction of community living. Across the world more and more people are living in cities, some of them of more than a million inhabitants. And it is in our cities that all faith communities are predominately present. In my own inner-city neighbourhood of Leeds West, we have Anglican churches, Catholic parishes, Methodist chapels (John Wesley personally visited our neighbourhood on his journeys), new Pentecostal churches, Baptist chapels, Sikh gurdwaras, Hindu temples, a community of Buddhists, Muslim mosques as well as the presence of some Jews. In other words, it is truly multifaith.