Gala: Inner Faith in Interfaith

September 26, 2008

Author: Lori Van Ingen

Source: Lancaster Online

As about 100 people of many different ethnicities and religions sat at circular tables to eat Turkish food at Millersville University on Thursday night, keynote speaker Leonard Swidler couldn't have been happier.

Swidler, professor of Catholic thought and inter-religious dialogue at Temple University, said he was appreciative of the work of Red Rose Intercultural & Educational Foundation and its interfaith banquet. "I wish I would have brought the Fulbright Scholars (at Temple) to Millersville instead of New York City," he said.

When Swidler began "dialoguing" with Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars in 1978, he could find only 10 or 12 Muslim scholars in the world who were able and willing to engage in talks.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Out of that tragedy, good came, Swidler said. Now there are not just 10 Muslims around the world willing to dialogue, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, he said. "This type of gathering would have been impossible 15 years ago and maybe even 10 years ago," Swidler said.

Dialogue, Swidler said, is not just conversation or an exchange of a little information.

"Dialogue is fundamentally a whole new way of thinking," he said. "Our whole being, the whole universe fundamentally is dialogue. There is necessary dialogue between matter and energy. ... If we are not in dialogue, we are out of sync with the universe."

See also: Interfaith