September 2011 Theme

Deepening Interfaith Dialogue
Until religions make peace, the nations will be at war.
Until religions are in dialogue, they will not be at peace.
– Hans Küng

From different countries and different religions – in this case meeting at a United Religions Initiative gathering in India, dialogue offers deeper understanding and new friendships. Photo: Jim Strong for URI

Thousands of articles this month, reflecting on the 9/11 tragedy ten years ago, sound a clarion call for deeper dialogue among people of faith and practice, regardless of tradition. The crying need for all of us to meet ‘the other’ with openness rather than fear, respect rather than suspicion, has never been clearer. Deepening interfaith dialogue will be an ongoing subtext at The Interfaith Observer, but in this launch issue it is front and center. The dialogue that transforms strangers into friends can more resemble an art form than a simple solution. Jim Wiggins’ ‘keynote’ essay reviews a new book unpacking what is required, particularly from Christians, in generating serious interreligious dialogue. In a companion interview, Joshua Stanton talks with one of the book’s authors and editors, John Cobb, a pioneer in process theology and interfaith relations.

Keynote Review  & Interview
Getting to know you… a lot better by Jim Wiggins
Review of The Dialogue Comes of Age: Christian Encounters with Other Traditions (2011), John Cobb & Ward McAfee, Eds.
A Conversation with John Cobb by Joshua Stanton

The next five pieces introduce skill-sets that help tap the treasures of this arena, starting with Kay Lindahl’s reminder that quality listening helps generate quality dialogue. Patrice Brodeur’s short chart has inspired whole courses in doing a better dialogical job. Tom Bonacci, a Catholic priest, JW Windland, a mythologist, and Don Frew, a Wiccan, all have seasoned suggestions for the quest.


Reflective essays follow by Nathan Samwini, Rami Shapiro, and Andrew Kille suggesting that ‘interfaith dialogue’ is not just a tool for peace and human survival but a source of deep, unexpected satisfactions and friendship, as well. A short video clip of Professor Diana Eck sums up the case.

A Holistic Approach
A ‘Dialogue of Life’ Approach to Interfaith Peace in West Africa
by Nathan Samwini

Deeper Engagement
Taking the Frightening Next Step in Interfaith Dialogue by Rami Shapiro

A Ramadan Reflection
From Hatred to Healing by Andrew Kille

The Task Ahead
An Interview with Diana Eck