Religions View Religions: Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding

Religions View Religions: Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding

Religions View Religions: Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding

Religions View Religions: Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding

Synopsis

Because religion is so central to the lives and experience of the vast majority of people throughout the world, it figures very prominently in a variety of ways in interhuman relations. Unfortunately, 'religion' often appears to be one of the potent sources of mistrust, discord and strife between and among individuals, groups and cultures. What frequently lies at the root of such suspicion and dissension is general ignorance concerning the religious other, a lack of knowledge about his or her beliefs, aspirations and views of the good and morally honorable life. And even if people have some factual knowledge about other religions, they regularly display little understanding of them and their adherents. Learning both to know and understand people of other faiths and their religions is absolutely requisite to the realization of paradigms of coherent and intelligent 'convivance, ' that is, living together in sensible, peaceable and cooperative harmony. An effective agency for fostering such knowledge and understanding is the discipline of theology of religions, which examines how religions have and ought to view other religions. And it is particularly the practice of comparative theology of religions which bears the most promise in this regard. The present symposium consists of precisely this kind of comparative exercise and may be viewed as an important contribution to the development of a new project which endeavors to enlarge the horizon and broaden the focus and reflection of theology of religions as that has been gradually developed during the last few decades, a new enterprise, in other words, which seeks to universalize and mutualize theology-of-religions discourse. One of the important things this volume shows is that the views religions have of other religions differ from one another in very substantial ways, which is explained by the fact that they derive from diverging paradigms of faith, belief and ritual and specific cultural and social contexts. This textbook demonstrates how strongly different Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto and Confucian views are from those of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, which latter in turn also exhibit . . .

Excerpt

Jerald D. Gort

“Welcoming others is not merely good manners and a sign
of civility, but … is an expression of faith and an act of
worship of God.” (Michel: 68)

In his novel, At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, Alexander McCall Smith has the Master of a college at the University of Cambridge address a group of colleagues, students and guests as follows:

Dear guests … William de Courcey [the founder of the college]
was cruelly beheaded by those who could not understand that
it is quite permissible for rational men to differ on important
points of belief or doctrine.… There are amongst us still those
who would deny to others the right to hold a different under
standing of … fundamental issues.… Thus, if we look about us,
we see dogma still in conflict with rival dogma; we see people
of one culture or belief still at odds with their human
neighbours who are of a different culture or belief; and we see
many who are prepared to act upon this difference to the
extent of denying the humanity of those with whom they
differ.… Here, in this place of learning, let us remind our
selves of the possibility of combating, in whatever small way
we can, those divisions that come between man and man, be
tween woman and woman so … that each may find happiness
in his or her life, and in the lives of others. For what else is
there for us to hope for? What else, I ask you, what else?
(McCall Smith 2003: 56-57)

What else, indeed! In the present situation of tense intercultural and interreligious relations and even outright conflict, what else is there to hope for than the discovery and application of effective ways to heal these divisions which continue to tear at the fabric of . . .

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