The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893

The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893

The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893

The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893

Synopsis

Nothing like the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions had been seen in the history of the world, and nothing like it was to be seen for again for many years: a gathering of representatives of numerous world religions for an exchange of views. It was a turning point in American life, presaging the multiculturalism of a century later. This volume contains a selection of 60 representative and revealing addresses given to the Parliament, with authoritative introductions and notes. The addresses include contributions by Protestant mainstream ministers, African-Americans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and representatives of other Asian religions. Also included are various "points of contact and contention," in which religious leaders attempted to analyze or reach out to their counterparts in other traditions.

Excerpt

In September of 1893, the World's Parliament of Religions convened in Chicago, drawing together the widest spectrum of speakers and participants ever assembled from the religious traditions of the world. Unfortunately, when the hefty two volumes of Parliament proceedings were published that year, they promptly disappeared into the stacks of university libraries. the publication of this new volume, compiled and edited by Richard Seager for the centenary of the Parliament in 1993, makes a selection of Parliament speeches readily accessible for the first time.

The speeches of those delegates a century ago give us an opportunity to reflect both on how different is the fast-paced world of the 1990s and yet how persistent are the issues of interreligious relations. the understanding and interpretation of religious diversity, with all its cultural concomitants, is even more the pressing issue of our times than it was one hundred years ago. Many Western countries, including the United States and Canada, are in the midst of a new identity crisis stimulated by the recognition of a new multicultural and multireligious reality. All over the world, the politics of religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial identity has led to a new period of turbulence.

The tide of this volume, The Dawn of Religious Pluralism, captures the vision of the Parliament, and yet we must be somewhat cautious in acquiescing to its claims. Mere diversity or plurality is not pluralism. Pluralism is an attempt to come to terms with plurality in a positive way. It is an interpretation of diversity, not simply its manifestation. in this sense, 1893 could not be called the dawn. the civilization of India, for example, has had long experience with the plurality of religious traditions and the task of creating a complex culture from its perennial parliament of religions.

When the delegates assembled in Chicago in the rainbow array of . . .

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