Personal Musings on Dialogue and Religious Communities
Blogs fill a need in our lives for expression. Sometimes when you’ve said all you want to say, you feel at peace, and in many ways a natural chapter comes to a natural resolution in one’s life.
It’s been about a year and a half since posting at Summa Theologica. The four years or so blogging on merits of interfaith dialogue has been quite rewarding. I was pleased to interact with several wonderful individuals devoted to increasing mutual religious understanding. I knew there were Evangelicals who were not excited about interfaith dialogue approaches to Mormonism. However, I experienced some unexpected moments when I interacted with Latter-day Saints who also did not seem to find the goals of interfaith dialogue particularly appealing. I tried, along with other Evangelicals, to make the case for interfaith dialogue, knowing that it would not appeal to everyone. However, any failures at communication were overshadowed by the new friendships and associations I made, and continue to make.
Part of interfaith dialogue is becoming a student of other religious traditions. One must get to know those who live in other faith communities, learn their history and culture. Part of interfaith dialogue is also becoming a student of one’s own religious community.
As a Latter-day Saint in conversation with Evangelicals or Catholics or those of other faiths, I’m looked upon as one who can explain why I believe what I believe, and why my community does what it does. The question is simple. The answers, surprisingly, are not always so simple. Often this takes me back to my own religious tradition, or it orients me towards other faiths.
One of the great things, I believe, about interfaith conversations is that it gives us an opportunity to return back to our religious community with new questions, with new eyes, with a new frame of mind. The last couple of years I’ve spent much more time focusing on movements and schools of thought within Mormonism. I’ve been fortunate to make friends with more scholars of religious history and culture, and impressive graduate students in religious studies, who I have no doubt will write a whole new generation of amazing books.
Even though its been a while since I’ve posted anything here, I still continue to be inspired by traditions other than my own, and still ponder my conversations and associations with those from other religious traditions. We are not only in dialogue with those outside our religious tradition, we are in dialogue with those within our traditions, and we are also in dialogue with ourselves, and in dialogue with God.