In a time when the world is inundated with daily reports of political, social, cultural, ethnic and religious conflict, as well as war and devastation resulting from human actions, and in a time when many of the world’s conflicts are directly or indirectly blamed on people adhering to different religions, it may seem surprising that representatives of those same religions reach out to each other with the aim of improving the situation.
However, this is exactly what is happening. Over the decades, interfaith dialogue has grown and an increasing number of activities and meetings are taking place at local, national and international levels. This is not to say that people engaged in interfaith dialogue are particularly pious or gifted with remarkable skills. It is also not a given that they produce extraordinary results. The point is that respectful encounters between people who are not strangers to, or overly unnerved by, cultural and religious difference, and who build their understanding and analysis on solid knowledge of historic and current world affairs, have the potential to identify problems and suggest paths to peaceful solutions.
An obvious and important factor behind this kind of knowledge search and concern for worldly affairs is the fact that it is not only undertaken by academic scholars, but also by people of faith. This warrants for common grounds in terms of shared ethical and moral values, which to a wide extent are shared by people all over the world, among other reasons, because they often derive precisely from religions praising such values. Consequently, one of the messages of interfaith dialogue is that we generally have a lot in common. We have more in common than what divides us. Assembling willingness to emphasize commonalities rather than divergences, however, does not necessarily come naturally to everyone, but, with practice, it may become second nature.
This blog about interfaith and intercultural dialogue aims to document initiatives that encourage openness, cooperation, and conviviality, in order to share and learn from those efforts. Such constructive approaches need to be heard and recognized, to remind of us our humanist nature, to revive our compassion for each other, and to strengthen our ability to find positive solutions together.
The blog is run by Stine Hoxbroe, an academic who has worked at international level with religious leaders and organizations, as dialogue coordinator for Danish-Arab Interfaith Dialogue 2013-16 under the Danish-Arab Partnership Program (DAPP), as member of the Contact Group for Muslims and Christians under the National Council of Churches in Denmark 2008-16, as member of the steering committee of the Christian-Muslim Communication Forum 2009-12, as general manager of the Muslim Council of Denmark 2008 -2010, and as communications advisor and producer of documentary films about topics related to interfaith and intercultural dialogue.