Tools for Interfaith Dialogue

This week, many people in our area were privileged to hear from Dr. Yehezkel Landau, Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations at Hartford Seminary and an experienced peacemaker and interfaith trainer. He met with the Interfaith Religious Leaders Dialogue group sponsored by the Silicon Valley Conference for Christians and Jews (SVCCJ), students at Santa Clara University and San Jose State University, Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos and Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos.

Yesterday, he addressed the “Difficult Dialogues” group at SJSU, a program sponsored by the Ford Foundation that includes students and community members in dialogues about the difficult issues in our communities and our world. Speaking specifically to the challenges of dialogue between the Abrahamic traditions– Judaism, Christianity, and Islam– Landau emphasized that we need more than just intellectual, linear, logical approaches to interfaith relations. We need a “tool kit” that includes multiple resources:

  1. Cognitive resources: finding ways to help people transform their attitudes, perceptions, and ideologies when they are injurious to others;
  2. Symbolic or aesthetic resources: enabling the transformation of our self-images and our images of others;
  3. Emotional resources: honestly identifying and learning how to change the feelings that drive our relationships, moving from fear to trust, from anger to acceptance (and even forgiveness), from grief to compassion;
  4. Spiritual resources: discovering that inclusive point in our experience of the sacred that is bigger than our own religious traditions, finding those shared values of life, relationship, concern for the human family that are at the root of our traditions.
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