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« Death of an Atheist | Main | Radio Show Sunday »

April 30, 2010


This is much more respectful of religious traditions than the psedo-synthesizing tendencies of modern liberalism and people like Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and the rest. This synthesizing tendency is almost always due to a monistic metaphysic that really ends up taking all the different religions and forcing them into an alien worldview (talk about imperialism!). I am looking forward to this reading this book, especially to see what worldview Stephen Prothero is coming from.

Milton J. Bennett presents the 6 levels of Intercultural Sensitivity (Denial, Defense, Minimization, Acceptance, Adaptation, Integration) and the 3rd level (still in the 1st half, Denial section) is Minimization of Differences. These supposesed champions of diversity only celebrate diversity when they have successfully removed (denied) any true differences from their cultural calculus. This is why it is a false diversity.

On my way to an MA in Religion and Culture -- in Comp. Religion at the University of Washington, I went to the Parliament of the World Religions in 1993. Funny thing: the Buddhists really objected to the constant, "We believe in the same God" talk." This is a form of religious imperialism where you don't ask for permission to speak for someone else but just assume you are so enlightened that you just know you speak for them, even when you have no clue as to who they really are or what they believe. True Pluralism in my mind is an acknowledgement of difference and accepting that these differences not only cannot be iron out, but should not be. It's okay that we disagree. And we don't have to kill each other over such disagreement either. We can talk and share but keep our boundaries. Now, that is a true enlightened belief in Diversity.

Love this article.

At the invocation for the commencement ceremony at my (nominally) Catholic law school, a priest, rabbi, and Muslim cleric together prayed "for the day when Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham join hands and welcome their children into the kingdom of heaven." I ducked for fear of fire from heaven. :-)

At the end of the prayer, they said, "And all God's children said..." While the crowd responded "amen," I said aloud, "No."

Sometimes an attempt to respect each religion turns out to be disrespect for each.

In the first chapter of Jonah, when the wind arose, each on board the ship was expected to pray to his god. This could either be 1) a meta-religion, or 2) a secular perspective of the role that religions were to play in their adherents' lives. "Faith in the unity of relgions" appears to be of version 1) while "inter-religious civility" appears to be of version 2). God's authority runs through secular lines as well as through his Church and the rules do not have to be the same for both.

Orthodox, institutional religions are quite different, but their mystics have much in common. A quote from the chapter "Mystic Viewpoints" in my e-book at on comparative mysticism:

Ritual and Symbols. The inner meanings of the scriptures, the spiritual teachings of the prophets and those personal searchings which can lead to divine union were often given lesser importance than outward rituals, symbolism and ceremony in many institutional religions. Observances, reading scriptures, prescribed acts, and following orthodox beliefs cannot replace your personal dedication, contemplation, activities, and direct experience. Preaching is too seldom teaching. For true mystics, every day is a holy day. Divine revelation is here and now, not limited to their sacred scriptures.

Conflicts in Conventional Religion. "What’s in a Word?" outlined some primary differences between religions and within each faith. The many divisions in large religions disagreed, sometimes bitterly. The succession of authority, interpretations of scriptures, doctrines, organization, terminology, and other disputes have often caused resentment. The customs, worship, practices, and behavior within the mainstream of religions frequently conflicted. Many leaders of any religion had only united when confronted by someone outside their faith, or by agnostics or atheists. Few mystics have believed divine oneness is exclusive to their religion or is restricted to any people.

Note: This is just a consensus to indicate some differences between the approaches of mystics and that of their institutional religion. These statements do not represent all schools of mysticism or every division of faith. Whether mystical experiences vary in their cultural context, or are similar for all true mystics, is less important than that they transform each one’s sense of being to a transpersonal outlook on all life.


I believe the author of this article has brought up some really good points, and I think they should be noted.

However, I think the response of Ron is right on.

Religions differ greatly, but the direct experience that can be gained through practicing them is the same.

Schuon (spelling?) did a great job explaining this in his book "The Transcendent Unity of Religions."

His point is that the problem with saying that all religions are one, is that most people do that at the wrong level. At the base level, if we were to compare the religious texts, they would be completely different.

But if we ourselves have had any sense of mystic realization, we will see that the differences do not matter.

It is on this point that I have to disagree with the author of the article.

There is only one mountain. One side might be icy and require an ice axe, and another might require a knife to clear a path. But their destination is the same. The point at the top of the mountain is where the differences between personal God/impersonal God, many gods/ one God, or God/no-God do not matter.

But of course, since I am explaining it, all I am really doing right now is creating my own religion, my own dogma in this instant. Or, if you will, creating my own path up the mountain. It would be a mistake to assume that all the other paths should just climb up mine (the path of ALL ONE) and the world will be saved.

And, with that, I agree. But our religious tolerance needs to also extend to those mystics who aim for the top of the mountain.

I think differences are important. People need to celebrate their differences just as we need to celebrate our religious differences.

But, just as we all share the gift of awareness funnelled through my social background, personality, etc, our religions also share the same gift of prophecy, channeled through its social climate.

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