The answer given to a question at a recent interfaith seminar:
What motivates, compels or fuels your commitment to interfaith dialogue?
Ever since the evolution of Palaeolithic , then Neanderthal humans, people have known in their guts there was an Other. Sometimes they dreamed up what she was like. Sometimes they said he/she had revealed the godself to them and it just needed someone to write it down. Karen Armstrong says humans have always been mythmakers. In the Palaeolithic period humans had felt a disturbing kinship with the animals they hunted and killed. The Greeks and Romans manufactured myths that seemed to describe the human condition. Always humans search for meaning.
Most of us here today belong to a religion which claims to have truths by which we may live. Some of them claim to have some historical basis. Some forms of them are exclusive, so that they want nothing to do with those who think differently. When I joined WIN, I just thought it would be an interesting experience. But after nine years, I have discovered that you have to first form good friendships and then you start to understand where people are coming from, what thrills them and what inspires them. You may even begin to learn what it feels like to stand in their shoes.
Even if I don’t stay a member of a denomination that in Sydney is exclusive, I want to continue to journey with those whose backgrounds and understanding of the Other is different from mine. People only trust you with their doubts when they sense you are their friend. I think it is the doubts that are important. The groups need to be small, and have enough diversity to prevent any one group dominating. We won’t invite you to join WIN. My group is full. But you are welcome to visit us, to see what we do and then go away and do the same thing. It is this dialogue, this deep sharing, this acknowledgment of our doubts and fears, across denominations, across cultures, across genders (although I am most comfortable in a women’s group) that I think will save us all from the violence and bloodshed that is characteristic of the present age.