Many students and faculty members in the Washington Theological Consortium continue to pray and grieve for Paris as she begins to bury her dead, killed by militant jihadists. But we also renew our work in inter-religious dialogue that can face such atrocities.
Alongside calls for increased security and military action, we want to share our commitment to the power of interfaith solidarity at this time: first against all militant fundamentalism–from whatever religion, and second for the long, hard work of inter-religious dialogue that can face such atrocities as part of our own histories, and move beyond them toward a new future together.
This kind of Interfaith work requires going beyond tolerance toward a deeper dialogue about differences. There are enduring histories of misconception and hatred that Christians, Jews, and Muslims, for example, that we must face with one another in order to move forward. Deep dialogue helps each of us come to know our perceived “enemy” so well that admiration for the other’s faith and even friendship can emerge.
In short, one cannot learn to love one’s religious “enemy” through political correctness alone. One has to go head to head with that foe under peaceful rules of engagment: which include truth-telling, admission of wrongs, and the gradual reappraisal of each others’ faith.
God willing, in-depth dialogue can lead to the healing of memories over time, including the atrocities that we inflict on each other in the name of God. Such healing opens a new way of peaceful co-existence and a shared life together. Finding this way forward will be essential for the future of Paris, and for every sister city, town and nation that mourns for her this day.