The separation of church and state is extremely important to any of us who holds to the original traditions of our nation. . . . To change these traditions . . . would be harmful to our whole attitude of tolerance in the religious area. If we look at situations which have arisen in the past in Europe and other world areas, I think we will see the reason why it is wise to hold to our early traditions.
I think traditions change and modify with each generation. With new members joining the family, their customs and traditions have to be respected and combined with the exiting traditions. And the children that follow are part of that new evolving tradition and, as they grow, will have input that will, in turn, continue to evolve that tradition.
The marriage tie becomes possessed of a history and takes to itself traditions. This history and these traditions form a great fund, to which changing conditions and growing imagination constantly add. And the traditions, more especially, bear heavily upon the individual, overmastering his natural expression of the love instinct and forcing him to an artificial expression of that love instinct. He loves, not as his savage forbears loved, but as his group loves.
Many of the traditional approaches to interfaith dialogue have assumed that it can be successful only if agreements are reached about amorphous concepts and themes that various traditions may have in common. These approaches have also assumed that participants have to "weaken" or "compromise" elements of their own faith... this is not necessarily constructive for engaging in interfaith understanding and dialogue. It is only when participants have a deep understanding of their own religious traditions and are willing to learn and recognize the richness of other religious traditions that constructive cooperation can take place between groups from different faiths. (by Cilliers, Ch. 3, p. 57-58)
David R. Smock
Pastoral theology and care helps people look deeper at the intersection between their inherited religious traditions and their current life situations. From this vantage point, religious traditions can be reinterpreted in a manner that assists healing, corrects distortions, and expands vision.
The central objective in decolonising the African mind is to overthrow the authority which alien traditions exercise over the African. This demands the dismantling of white supremacist beliefs, and the structures which uphold them, in every area of African life. It must be stressed, however, that decolonisation does not mean ignorance of foreign traditions; it simply means denial of their authority and withdrawal of allegiance from them.
We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the earth's functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide, but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted with biocide, the killing of the life systems of the earth, and geocide, the devastation of the earth itself.
Fear is so fundamental to the human condition that all the great spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on our lives. With different words, they all proclaim the same core message: "Be not afraid." Though the traditions vary widely in the ways they propose to take us beyond fear, all hold out the same hope: we can escape fear's paralysis and enter a state of grace where encounters with otherness will not threaten us but will enrich our work and our lives.
Parker J. Palmer
Religion is important for humanity, but it should evolve with humanity. The first priority is to establish and develop the principle of pluralism in all religious traditions. If we, the religious leaders, cultivate a sincere pluralistic attitude, then everything will be more simple. It is good that most religious leaders are at least beginning to recognize other traditions, even though they may not approve of them. The next step is to accept that the idea of propagating religion is outdated. It no longer suits the times.
In this postcolonial context, my contention is that interreligious engagement is enhanced by renewed attention to the particularity of religious traditions. From a European (Anglican) standpoint, a revised particularist theology of religions is proposed as an appropriate Christian theology for our time that respects the integrity of Christianity and of other religious traditions. This particularist approach concerns Christian terms of engagement with other religious traditions, as these may be understood in Christian theological terms. Having regard to questions raised in the opening paragraph above, centred in trinitarian thinking, as capable of hospitality to the liberative and interreligious concerns of post-colonial, Asian and feminist theologies; respectful interreligious engagement and the pursuit of gender justice amid increasing global diversity need not require repudiation of orthodox trinitarian thought and its liturgical expressions.
The creation story unfurling within the scientific enterprise provides the fundamental context, the fundamental arena of meaning, for all the peoples of the Earth. For the first time in human history, we can agree on the basic story of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, minerals, life forms, and human cultures. This story does not diminish the spiritual traditions of the classical or tribal periods of human history. Rather, the story provides the proper setting for the teachings of all traditions, showing the true magnitude of their central truths.
Religion, which was obviously created to give meaning and purpose to people, has become part of the oppression. This is true in both Eastern and Western religious traditions. The Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad were all revolutionaries who critiqued and attempted to dismantle the corrupt societal traditions of their time. Yet their teachings, like most things in human society, have been distorted and co-opted by the confused and power-hungry patriarchal tradition. What were wonce the creation myths of ancient cultures, have become doctrines of oppression. More blood has been spilled and more people oppressed in the name of religion than for any other reason in history.
Many native cultures believe that the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the 'four-chambered heart,' the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health, is described as being full, open, clear, and strong. These traditions feel that it is important to check the condition of the four-chambered heart daily, asking: 'Am I full-hearted, open-hearted, clear-hearted, and strong-hearted?'
Dialogue with Catholics and other nonevangelical Christians offered some correction to the Church Growth movement's fixation on cultural accommodation and baptism rates. However - save for those few who converted - evangelicals attracted to other Christian traditions have made those traditions their own. They assemble do-it-yourself liturgies from a hodgepodge of monastic prayers and mystics' visions. They lionize medieval dissenters - Celtic monks, or renegade Franciscans - but don't understand their broader Catholic context. Without quite realizing what they have done, evangelicals often use these ancient teachings and practices to confirm, rather than challenge, their own assumptions. History becomes a sidekick to one's twenty-first-century journey with Jesus.