In a report about the NAIN Connect gathering in Detroit last August published at State of Formation, Ellie Anders describes a generational difference concerning how people speak about interreligious relationships. She sees it as a difference between “relativism” and “pluralism.” Of the former, she observes, “[o]ver and over again we heard phrases like ‘we all have the same God/gods’ or ‘the same God/gods loves us all.'” Such language has two drawbacks, from her perspective: it excludes those who do not identify themselves in relation to a “god,” such as “theist, humanist, and other non-deist friends,” and further,”it forces our conversations into the shallow end of the pool, conversations that have vast and deep potential for discovery.”
The younger generation, she observes, is more likely to use the language of “pluralism,” as used by Diane Eck and others on the Pluralism Project website. It is not just recognizing diversity, but engaging with it. It moves beyond tolerance to actively seeking to understand the other. Pluralism is the language “‘of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism.’”
What words would you use to describe the interfaith/interreligious/multifaith encounter? Do you agree with Ellie Anders? Join the conversation by adding a comment.
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This is the archive for the Bay Area Interfaith Connect, the former newsletter for the Interfaith Center at the Presidio .