Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does Peace Lie in the Texts, or in the Interpretation and Application?

One thing that has become clear to me, as we - committed Christians, Muslims and Jews - discuss our sacred texts about various issues (like love of neighbor, the poor, violence including terrorism, and others), at the Building Hope Conference, is that our problem does not lie in our sacred texts, but in the interpretation and application of those texts.

To put it very simply, you can interpret and apply the texts - in any of our traditions - in a way that leads to and supports good relations and peace with others, or the opposite.

To give one example, which I keep coming back to, it is one thing to have a text that says "love your neighbor as yourself"; it is another to decide what that means and who it applies to (Jesus threw a wrench in the works by applying the verse to the despised Samaritans, who the Jews of his day would never have thought of as their neighbors). And that's one of the "easy" or "nice" verses.

One of the things which encourages me about this conference is, the participants are deeply religious / committed, AND broad-minded, open-hearted, eager to live out their faith in good relations with those of other faiths (or none). That is encouraging.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow: we're talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. :-)

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