DOES DIALOGUE WORK? was the question for the Public Square conversation at Patheos.com last month. Writers were invited to respond to the following questions “What does interfaith dialogue accomplish? Does it have any measurable impact? Does it help reduce violence or solve any real-world problems?” Responses come from across the spectrum, often challenging what the writers perceive as a kind of “tea party conversation” (“old-fashioned kind, not political”), yet often pointing out the vital role that dialogue has in our pluralistic world.
A few thoughts from the contributors: “We’re in the middle of the process, so unless forecasters share their direct-line to All That Is, Goddess, God, gods, what have you, we’ll never be able say with certainty that the impact of what we’re doing will have any beneficial resolve. We can only make a guess, based upon our hope that the community building we’re focused on will indeed help to create a world where all people’s faiths and traditions are accepted — not just tolerated, but acknowledged as an authentic way of being.” (Drea Parker).
“Engaging with others who think differently and holding a genuine conversation with them is much harder than constructing a straw man and then promptly burning it. It is also much more rewarding and interesting than the way the secular mafia wants us to interact…” (Adrian Warnock)
“My conclusion is that, while interfaith dialogue does not really hurt, it doesn’t really do all that much either to the people who really need to have their minds opened. The ones who go to events are probably already tolerant and willing to learn. Or, they into these things with their own preconceived notions and set worldviews, and most aren’t looking for their minds to be changed. So I say, keep on talking. Hopefully, the end result will at least be mutual respect.” (Lynn Swayze Wilson)
What do you think? What impact has interfaith dialogue made on your own life or your community? We invite you to share your thoughts on the ICP Facebook page, or add a comment below.
This is the archive for the Bay Area Interfaith Connect, the former newsletter for the Interfaith Center at the Presidio .