Importance of Interreligious Dialogue and Negotiation

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Interreligious Dialogue is people from different backgrounds having meaningful and respectful conversations. Regardless of where anyone is from there is a way they can get along irrespective of their religious background. Interreligious dialogue helps people to gain more knowledge about different experiences and perspectives. It helps one to understand a person’s religion, language, community, and culture. In gaining more knowledge and trying to better communicate and talk with each other, different groups and cultures are able to better understand the challenges and types of oppression in this world.

In class, we learned that all theology is contextual theology. While one’s religion is contextualized by one’s experiences and culture, common ground can still be found. People who seek to live a good life, regardless of religious tradition or lack thereof are unified in their mutual striving for the universal good. Every religion is unique in its own way, shaped by the unique context in which it develops. Most religions share a spiritual belief in a supernatural power that establishes ethical norms. One’s religion shapes their thoughts about our society, view of life and way of interacting with others. The ethical codes or ideas put forth by a religion impact how its followers live in the world. Moreover, different individuals and religions view God differently. How one conceptualizes the divine is exemplified in their worship and self- understanding.

Although it is clear that religions differ greatly, the people who practice religion are still part of the same human family. No matter how we worship our God(s) our structure of our ethical precepts, we remain universally human. Worshipping different ways should not affect people from having a meaningful conversation. This allows for interreligious dialogue. According to the Pew research center 7% of the population is Atheist and 16% of the world's population did not identify from any religious background. There are many types of religions in this world. A few of the most practiced religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. (Cooperman, 1-2 ). Even though there are many types of religions, there are also many types of non- religious people. The unifying principle of believing in any religion does not make them a single, unified community. What people believe in as ultimate good can serve as a guide on how to live a good life.

Our contextual environment has a big impact on how we see things and how our culture shapes our minds. The ability to name oneself is essential to liberation theology. In order for interreligious dialogue to be respectful and meaningful, the right for religious communities to use their own nomenclature must be safeguarded. One example of nomenclature leading to interreligious dialogue is the use of term Mujerista in Mujerista theology.

According to Mujerista Theology, Latinas started to use the term Mujerista to refer to themselves as a unified group living in the United States. Their similar lived experiences such as sexism, economic oppression, and ethnic prejudice affected them on a daily basis. Thus in coming together as a unified whole, Mujerista were able to self- identify and form a community.

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Use of the term Mujerista theology helps the community to explain their faith and the role of their struggle for liberation. (Diaz, 60-61). Although cultural differences have the tendency to isolate they can also be the reason to unify. The shared experiences of people living in a specific context help them to bond. According to Sr., Anne Falola shared experiences shape the mind and the way people think. Shared experience also included shared challenges. These challenges help to develop a different understanding of beliefs in religion. Being able to communicate shared experiences opens the door to dialogue.

There are many ways to understand Dialogue. Two ways understand dialogues are the divine way and theologically. Interreligious dialogue is a pathway to have a true conversation with God, as it helps one accept others differences with respect to one's freedom. Dialogue also plays as an important tool for liberation, as it helps one to gain their rights but independent of their religious belief (Falola,18-50). In my own life, I saw firsthand how experience affects my understanding of the Divine. The religious experience in the United States differs drastically from where I grew up. I was brought up in Qatar, a predominantly Muslim country. When I moved to the United States, it was very different religiously and culturally. Grappling with these differences made me understand dialogue about the Divine on a first-hand level.

The Christian understanding and goal of Dialogue are not to limit us from each other’s community. The goal of churches is to build a community together and respect each other's values and understand each other's experiences. Dialogue helps different communities come together with a similar goal in the presence of love and respect. This will invite a deeper understanding of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Dialogues will help understand the gospel with main gospel significance of humanity. It also develops an understanding of God when we share our experiences. It develops the spiritual experience and the ability to understand the presence of God in others. This is because “dialogue as spirituality is rooted in the way God relates to us, God who created us but also engages with each one of us in a unique relationship. The Christian understanding of dialogue is founded on the Trinitarian communion which overflows to humanity and the entire creation.” (Falola, 35-39)

Because interreligious dialogue is rooted in God’s universal relationship to creation, the experiences of all people deserve the dignity of dialogue. If someone does not believe in any religion they can still live in different communities respectfully. People who practice religion have an obligation to act out of God’s universal respect for God’s people and treat all as equal. According to a National Geographic writer, all the happiest places in this world have wholesomeness and harmony because they allow for freedom (Ferro,5-10). The best way to express love is by respect and acceptance of choice, because freedom, specifically religious freedom, foster the health of a community.

Just as freedom of religion needs to be upheld, so does freedom of culture. Culture plays an important role in how individuals identify. It is the combination of the practice of certain belief and way of life. Identities are different for each individual. “Silence is the language of God, all else is a poor translation,” Sufi mystic Rumi once said. (Jenkin) Language is the way we express ourselves it is a cultural context. Every human is different but can share similar values. A child's behavior as they grow depends on the practices taught them on a daily basis. Our culture and society shape our mind in a way through which we can make judgments about others and ourselves. Language is the way we express it. Culture has a big impact on an individual, whether negative or positive, with culture comes our language.

The way our mind is shaped and we express our identities in language. Languages help us understand each other's culture and perceptions. Sometimes minor actions or behavior can affect people so much. If everyone compromises and tries to understand each other that will help to live together. Culture and language are determined by history. Intercultural dialogue helps people all around the world to connect. Language is a way to express one's thoughts. Language and culture help us to convey our message to others. when we learn to accept we learn about perception. People see what they want to see but they do not see what you see (Dawn).

I speak five different languages and in four dialects. I feel sad in Bangla. I feel happy and motivated in English. I feel angry in Hindi and so on. People judge by what they see and hear. For instance, when I moved here and went to any store in the city and spoke proper English and did not wear the headscarf people treated me as they do to tourists, but if I speak one Bengali or Hindi word they gave some kind of discounts, feel different emotions in different languages. Expressing emotions in different languages. Interreligious dialogue helps people to gain more knowledge about different experiences and perspectives. It helps one to understand a person religion, language, community, and culture. In gaining more knowledge and trying to better communicate and talk with each other, different groups and cultures are able to better understand the challenges and oppression in this world. Being able to express emotions in different languages give one the ability to accept other cultural differences. These differences built one stronger to deal with real-life experiences. The changes will bring more positivity and connectedness in society. It will help people from olden times and future generation have broader mindsets. The ultimate goal of religious dialogue is bringing peace in the world. This is help people be more accepting of other religious people and one will be judged according to one's individual values and not based on what religion or culture one is from.

In conclusion, no matter what religion or what culture we are from, our universal humanity binds us together. Nothing can stop diverse communities from intermixing. Each community or group has its own struggles and problems. Staying together can help everyone built a better place to live in. Interreligious dialogue helps foster a mutual appreciation for different cultures, religions, and languages. This mutuality helps everyone promote equality and helps built openness in the mind of people from any country and religious background. It also helps to promote liberation from discrimination and oppression by building a bridge to connect different communities and bring them into a harmonious relationship. Interreligious dialogue helps people to gain more knowledge about different experiences and perspectives. It helps one to understand a person’s religion, language, community, and culture. In gaining more knowledge and trying to better communicate and talk with each other, different groups and cultures are liberated from the oppression in this world.

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