“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
A friend posted a beautifully written essay yesterday (and which I am sharing with you today, at the end of my words), on what, at the time, I thought of as Ecumenical Unity. But I quickly realized that in seeking to somehow engender respect for all types of religious expressions, it is much more that an Ecumenical attempt. You see, the very word Ecumenical is generally thought of as the embodiment of the influence of an entire body of churches. But I was wrong in assuming that this meant all faiths, when, in fact, it refers to worldwide Christian unity or cooperation. And while I heartily agree that this is an imperative for all Christians to foster, one denomination with the other, especially Roman and Greek Catholicism and Protestantism, what we must seek is so much more! And as I struggled to find just the words I really wanted to use to describe the religious tolerance for all faiths, I discovered the “Religious Pluralism”. So, for those who don’t understand what “Religious Pluralism” means, here it is, in a nutshell:
- It means religious inclusivism: “… the worldview according to which one’s religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values exist in other religions.”
- It means religious tolerance: “… the condition of harmonious co-existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations.
- It means religious ecumenism. “… the promotion of some level of unity, co-operation, and improved understanding between different religions or different denominations within a single religion.
- It means religious diversity: “… the fact that in a given society there exist a multiplicity of religions together.”
We have long seen conflicts within religion. Those conflicts were glaringly apparent in the earliest Biblical texts which found cultures pitted one against the other, solely because their religious traditions dictated that one was more worthy that the other. And it remains little changed in the many millenia since. Were it not so, there would be no conflicts in the Middle East today. Come to think about it, there would likely be no conflicts……PERIOD! Which makes me think that it is probably more appropriate we alter the sentiment to “Cultural Pluralism”, instead.
Unfortunately, it seems as if we can not hope to change traditions that have been in existence in lands for thousands upon thousands of years, try as we might! We can not seem to somehow alter what is a literal view of those religious traditions that somehow keep the small word RESPECT outside of the mix. (And, by the way, thank you Aretha Franklin….every time I write that word, her song comes to mind!) The thing is that the core principles that define nearly all religions are identical. It is the way they are interpreted and applied, that are so different.
Why do we allow fundamentalism and the politics of culture, which ALWAYS seem to combine with the explosive force of a nuclear bomb, to rob us of embracing the gifts that allow our hearts and souls to align with our faith? And more importantly, why must we always walk on egg shells when we talk of religion? What must we do to foster the right of each one to align their hearts and souls with the almighty power (for me, the ALMIGHTY) that lends them the most comfort? Well, I can muse all I want, but I do not have the magic key which will unlock the answer to that and which will, somehow solve our DIVERSITY and change it into UNITY. Then I keep returning to the thought of little children and color blindness…..or faith blindness, if you will, which is the one thing that gives me a ray of hope!
Just as a dam can be undermined if a crack, but an inch long, forms, so can freedom of religion be undermined if we guarantee rights and privileges to one faith over another. But just as children play with everyone in a playground….happily….oblivious to the differences that adults would define them by, such as sex, race, or (yes, dare I say it?) faith, we do need to think outside the box in uniting cultures by embracing those principles we value so much, which offer choice. But until that day, sadly a long time coming, I fear, we can and will never know a time when the world is not at war. And I fear that it will be that inch long crack in the dam of our very humanity, that allows the victor’s spoils be handed over to Satan!
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.“
1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)
The WordPress post from my friend that prompted my message today!
…IN KEEPING WITH THE WORD….
Friar Jeffrie Wallace
If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you PEACE….
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” -2 Thessalonians 3:16
“The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” -Romans 15:33
If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you LOVE…
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:31
“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” – 1 John 3:11
If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you JOY….
“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” -1 Thessalonians 3:9
“Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” -1 Thessalonians 2:20
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” -Philemon 1:7
If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you BROTHERHOOD…
“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers,” -1 Timothy 5:1
“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.” -2 Thessalonians 3:1
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:28
If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you HAPPINESS….
“Yet, by doing good, he has given evidence of his existence. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and your lives with happiness.” -Acts 14:17
And finally…If you are Muslim, Hindi, Christian, Jew, Pagan, or “other”, I wish you THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” -Galatians 5:22-23
“for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” -Ephesians 5:9
We are ALL OF US, Brothers, and Sisters under the shelter of God’s good hand…let us live together in peace, love, and respect for each other…so that when we stand before His Throne AS INDIVIDUALS, we may NOT BE FOUND WANTING……
Peace be with you
शांति तुम साथ हो
السلام يكون معكم
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