Some of the most intense conflicts involve clashes between and within religions and faith traditions.
Rabbi Irwin Kula talks here about the internal conflicts within the various traditions, especially the conflict between “Traditionalists and Modernists,” and he points out the ways in which both sides bring important values to the conflict. Does it seem to you that we become so invested in the correctness of our own positions that we are blinded to the wisdom expressed by the people “on the other side”?
Each tradition — especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism — is torn by these internal conflicts. Often, the Traditionalists and the Modernists (which I understand to be the LIberals) fear the worst from each other. Too often, our worst expectations of the “other side” keep us from seeing God in those whom we consider our opponents. I speak from the point of view of a progressive — yes, a Liberal — and I have a hard time letting go of my fears about the most extreme positions of the Traditionalists. Yet, I am fairly sure the Traditionalists harbor the same fears about my own committed camp.
This is not a post asking anyone to abandon beliefs authentically held. But it is an appeal to honor the validity of the views of those across the table from us. (That’s assuming we are at the table at all!) I also speak from the position of someone whose tradition brings people of diverse views to a common table every Sunday. Week after week, we are challenged to break bread with people whose political and religious views may differ radically from our own. Millions of us address that dilemma by choosing to participate in homogeneous congregations where our own views are reaffirmed. This is easier than deliberately putting ourselves in positions where our most deeply held convictions might be challenged. By choosing a homogeneous community, It’s especially hard to allow diversity within our own home communities, isn’t it?
I mean, there’s diversity and then, well, there’s “diversity.” As I seek my own comfort level, I hope to be challenged, week after week, to expand my vision and notions of WHO deserves a place at “MY” table. To do this, I need a community which shares a commitment to this most difficult form of diversty, this most radical inclusiveness. Rabbi Kula points me in that direction, I think.
Many of the readers of this blog are firmly committed to finding common ground. I know this because of the many private emails I receive. Yet, because of fears of rejection, or concerns about being flamed, they are reluctant to enter into a common discussion. Until we can intentionally engage in that common discussion, without attacks or abuse, we remain isolated readers and atomized individuals withholding ourselves from community, or so it seems to me.
You may see this very differently. Your comments here are welcome, so long as they are respectful of a range of personal views. Please comment.