Friday, January 28, 2011


A previous Trialogue event found us exploring the issue of extremism.  In our Christian-Jewish-Muslim conversations this topic has been called "the elephant in the room."  How do we face extremism in our own religious traditions (never minding, for the time being, identifying extremism in others' faiths)?

To that end, and to further the table discussion on this topic, I offered a series of questions for consideration.  In the light of the recent unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Yemen (the the implications of this unrest for the world); and in the light of the terrorist attacks on Chaldean Christians in the last months in Iraq and Coptic Christians Egypt, I think these questions are worth pondering even if not in dialogue with others.  And so I offer them for your reflection.

1.  Does my conviction with regard to my own beliefs sometimes lead to my intolerance of others' beliefs?
2.  Must mutually exclusive beliefs always lead to conflict?
3.  Can freedom and conviction be successfully juxtaposed in my life?
4.  Does my intolerance of others' views stem from my unconscious doubts about my own views?  Are doubts what lead me to be 'triumphalistic'?
5.  C. S. Lewis referred to a practice he called 'Bulverism,' whereby one makes statements like, "The reason you think like that is because you're a [X]" (fill in the blank with an insulting term).  Why do we resort to insults and name-calling?
6.  Is fear the basis for all intolerance?  If so, how can I overcome it in my own life?

I will only observe, in conclusion, that some of these issues have been 'burning issues' for Pope Benedict in his papacy, including most recently in his Message for the World Day of Peace (1 January 2011). 

1 comment:

  1. What a comprehensive and beautiful expression of faith by our Pope Benedict given on Jan. 1, 2011, The World Day of Peace. I quote only an excerpt which particularly impressed me: "Religious freedom, like every freedom, proceeds from the personal sphere and is achieved in relationship with others. Freedom without relationship is not full freedom. Relationship is a decisive component in religious freedom, which impels the community of believers to practise solidarity for the common good."
    Later he expresses: "Laws and institutions of a society cannot be shaped in such a way as to ignore the religious dimensions of its citizens or to prescind completely from it. As St. Thomas Aquinas would say 'Every truth, whoever utters it, comes from the Holy Spirit.'"
    For myself, it has been a process of acceptance, first within myself, of subduing waves of impatient impulses concerning differences of lifestyles and learning to listen, and second, in studying
    the lives of holy and principled human beings as guides for my continued spiritual growth. Peace follows.