Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Tonight the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Mobile is hosting Fr Dennis McManus for a presentation on the state of dialogue especially between Jews and Catholics. Later, on 7 April, our Trialogue (Christians, Jews & Muslims) will be hosting an event with the title “The Sacred Call to Justice.” But for some, the real question is “Why bother?”

It’s a fair question on some levels. It presumes there should be an empirical outcome—one that can be measured and evaluated—to all activity, and if there is none, or if the measurement is minimal, then the activity is deemed worthless.

Their conclusion is that dialogue is exactly such a pointless activity because it produces nothing tangible and beneficial. But is this the case?

Without dialogue I can never get to know another human being as a person. They will remain objects but never subjects. With dialogue we can engage one another, look into each other’s eyes (and, perhaps, also our hearts) and come to understand. When understanding is in fact mutual, it is far easier to be tolerant of differences can that enrich instead of enrage.

There are no doubt some who are fanatically opposed to dialogue. These are typically seen to be Islamist extremists these days, though in fact they scarcely have a corner on the market of intolerance—Jews and Christians, too, are quite capable of these attitudes. But just as some Jews and Christians and Muslims are closed-minded to all perspectives but their own, many, many more are open to coming together for the purpose of respect, recognition of our mutual dignity, and eagerness to learn.

“Hands that reach will touch” is the motto of the Mobile Christian-Jewish Dialogue. It might be expanded: eyes that open will see, ears that listen will hear… To quote Hamlet, surely this is “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”


  1. How would one read the Gospels from a Jewish perspective?

  2. To see Judaism in its 1st c. context: when Jesus and the Pharisees debated, it reveals the status of issues like Sabbath, healing, peace, love, inclusion, forgiveness...

    It's the illustration of the Judaism of the 1st century AD/CE.