Dialogue With Interfaith Friends (Formerly Dialogue with Interfaith Leaders)


The Dialogue In Conversation

The Dialogue With Interfaith Friends is designed to assist us in developing practical educational programs for interfaith understanding on the grassroots level. We are designing educational opportunities for interested people who gather in private homes, worship sites and community centers to enhance their appreciation of the religious heritage of humankind. Your very kind participation in this conversation blesses our efforts to contribute to world peace through religious understanding and peacemaking.

Strategy for Development of The Interfaith Peace Project

I stand firmly within my own faith tradition. I seek what is transcendent in my own tradition. I claim the traditions of others as my own based on our common humanity. I envision the religious “other” as my spiritual/faith companion in the pursuit of life’s meaning and purpose.

The Approach

Participants in the Interfaith Dialogue journey upon a road whose destination is the journey itself. Religions as such do not meet one another. Persons meet. Participants are not representing a faith tradition as an ambassador of good will  They are meeting one another in the depth of thir mind, heart, soul, and person. Every person is a unique expression of faith, piety, devotion, or ethical philosophy. Religious systems are abstractions born out of the real experiences of actual persons. Somewhere in our past, we emerged from a community of believers for whom the symbols, stories, myths, rites, and culture of that particular religion created a system of meaning. Even if one were to share the “objective” teaching of a given tradition, they would do so autobiographically. There is no way to speak without engaging the spiritual and psychological “muscles” opening one’s heart. Two hearts meet creating a sacred space called trust invigorated by courage and forged by deep personal respect for one another.

The spiritual/faith traditions of any particular people testify to the wisdom and strength of that people as they consider the complex dimensions of life.

Our project claims the religious traditions of any particular community as part of the collective wisdom of worldwide human community. This claim is respectful in nature recognizing the sacredness of each tradition. The “claiming” is done with utmost respect and reverence. There is no attempt at harmonization, reduction, or syncretism. Each tradition is upheld with esteem and gratitude.

Our project recognizes that each tradition is a gift given to the whole of humanity. In fact, our commonality is found in our common experience of what it means to be a human being. We do not have the same understandings as human beings but we do have the same experiences as human beings. All of us cope with birth, life, illness, hurts and sorrows, anxiety, joys and visions, aging and wisdom, death and hope. The spiritual traditions are often blamed for being a source of conflict when, in fact, they provide the wisdom and peacemaking justice by which conflict can be resolved.

Principles For Dialogue

  1. Dialogue with others is a matter of mutual blessing for all participants. The discussion in itself must be “prayerful”, not simply framed by prayers.
  2. Participants in the dialogical conversation treasure the opportunity to learn from one another.
  3. Honesty about issues must consider the well-being, emotions, and dignity of all participants.
  4. Listening must be active. We hear what is said with focused attention on who is speaking. We let go of the temptation to defend or offend.
  5. Forgiveness and healing must be the order of the day.
  6. Participants summarize by revealing what they have heard realizing that something else may have been said or meant. This affords the opportunity for participants to clarify and explain their various positions.
  7. Gratitude, graciousness, good humor, honesty, and openness are the virtues of any dialogue in which dissenting parties forge justice and peace through mutual understanding.

Questions Directing Our Conversation

  1. What are the core beliefs and principles of your tradition?
  2. How is your faith tradition practiced by individuals and community? We are interested in the worship expressions and social outreach both within and outside your particular community of faith.
  3. How would you introduce your faith tradition to people of other faith traditions?
  4. What are the sacred scriptures or writing of your community?
  5. What books would you recommend be collected in our interfaith library?
  6. How does your community practice and understand interfaith relations with people of other faiths?
  7. May we bring small groups or individuals to meet you and your community? What celebrations or times of the year would be most convenient for you?