Dialogue

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Typology

Joshua Stanton:

Three types of dialogue (used in interreligious dialogue):

"Getting a group of religiously diverse young (or older) people together to build a house or clean a park will provoke spontaneous dialogue and be more effective in improving inter-religious relations than any formal dialogue setting. Conversations about religion take place one-on-one and often provide a way to ask questions that might be considered inappropriate or offensive in a large group. Cooperative dialogue strategies have been implemented around the world and appear to be gaining momentum, as people of all ages may prefer to learn about each other through concrete actions that benefit people of all traditions.

Coupled dialogue similarly emphasizes action, at least in name, as the ultimate goal. However, it uses dialogue as a tool to guide and enable joint action. Coupled dialogue is frequently found in areas plagued by religious or ethnic conflict. The Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel and Auburn Theological Seminary, for example, run the Face to Face/Faith to Faith program for Israeli and Palestinian youth in Jerusalem. The trauma of day-to-day events in the region can be so intense that carefully facilitated dialogue is often a prerequisite for joint service projects of any kind. Community service in turn provides tangible proof that people of different backgrounds can work together towards a shared goal – even in the midst of the broader conflict. However, dialogue provides the essential starting point for productive interchanges.

The third kind of dialogue is substantively different from the other two in both its aims and methodology. The goal of intellectual dialogue is to better understand the dynamics taking place between religious communities, in all of their complexities. It frequently involves case studies – such as that of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria – and analyzes them from multiple perspectives. What religious texts are used to justify violence or promote peace? Is there an element of ethnic tension (or camaraderie) that the religious tensions are masking? What kinds of religious leaders tend to become peacemakers, and which tend to become warmongers? More often than not, such dialogue does not even take place in person, but on paper, at conferences, and in presentations. Many practitioners of intellectual dialogue are scholars, and many more still are aspiring scholars." (http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2010/01/02/avoiding-meaningless-dialogue/)