Thursday, February 12, 2009

Religious Peace

Usually when i am studying in the library I'll browse the books and pick out something that catches my eye. Today i picked out the book Global Responsibility by Hans Kung, and in it the topical sections are entitled as follows:

A) No Survival without a World Ethic
B) No World Peace without Religious Peace
C) No Religious Peace without Religious Dialogue

I focused my attention on C) No Religious Peace without Religious Dialogue because of its importance in my own life right now. I am extremely concerned with persons who find it necessary, or even more meagerly, their duty to "trash" other religions/religious expressions based on cultural presuppositions and ignorance afforded by limited Western thought. In other words, to remain in one's own culture and context without any openness to another is short-sighted and destructive. No matter the religious conviction, there is still room to speak peace with one another and in fact it is necessary. Too long has the world been a place of self-righteous theology which seeks to moralize individuals at any cost. It seems as if this disease of exclusion disguised as love continues to be held in high favor among religious groups as well as other stances, be it politics, education, etc.

There needs to be an awakening among us all that seeks peace between religions through personal reformation. Personal reformation means that instead of finding perceived faults in the other that spur contrast between us, we look within ourselves and ask God to help us acknowledge the bits and pieces in our own hearts and minds that are at enmity with the other; the bits and pieces that cause "duty" and "responsibility" to outweigh peace and love. Once we find these locations of exclusion we must pray that the Holy Spirit change us from within and give us the grace to allow peace to be amidst conversation and perspective as we create trusting relationships that would have otherwise sparked conflict, e.g., war. This is not a call for pluralism or absolutism, it is a call for peace.

Hans Kung writes:
(c) the ecumenical horizon
The aim can only be a critical or self-critical differentiation which measures any religion critically by its own origin and by a humane ethic, without claiming it for itself. We do not arrive at peace through syncretism but through reform of ourselves; we arrive at renewal through harmony, and at self-criticism through toleration. So what is being fought for here is a theology of peace which finds the way to peace not by bracketing off the question of truth but by incorporating it and responding to it, and which above all discloses and helps to work out those conflicts and points of unrest in the world of which the religions themselves are the cause. (GR)

I understand the complexity of this but we must also understand the concreteness of it. Specifically, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three most prominent "prophetic religions" which are based upon truth, justice, and salvation; all three are based on the Abrahamic origin and have a future hope. For this religious peace to transpire it must come from all sides at all times. We must move beyond the common opinion of "this won't work" thus replacing it with a simple "this will work". Optimism is what sparks progressive development whereas pessimism poisons the efforts of love and justice. It is not 'giving in' to the other, rather it is 'opening up' to the other which is the right thing to do.

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