Most experts in interreligious dialogue say that if relationships are to mature, they have to grow beyond the "tea and cookies" stage into the capacity to challenge one another. The problem is that issuing challenges tends to make people mad in a way that tea and cookies rarely do.
A clear example in Birmingham came with the summit's last panel, composed of three rabbis: Marc Ellis and Michael Kogan of the United States and Dan Cohn-Sherbok of England. Up to that point, most participants had used their five-minute speaking blocks to outline how pluralism could be accepted from within their traditions.
Ellis, however, flung down a gauntlet.
He denounced what …