Opinion: "Pluralism May Be the Future of Religion" by Ray Waddle

July 8, 2006

Source: The Tennessean


On July 8, 2006 The Tennessean published a column by their columnist Ray Waddle: "Earth is becoming a spiritually hyphenated place, says Rabbi Rami Shapiro of Murfreesboro. I know what he means. Lately I've run into local Unitarian-pagans, Episcopalian-skeptics, Christian-Sufis, Presbyterian-ecologists, Baptist-Democrats. At the blink of an e-mail, boundaries are blurring. Ideas are leaping over firewalls of religious routine. Hyphenation is Shapiro's way of talking about the future well-being of a pluralistic planet. Only empathy and hospitality across religions can keep us from destroying each other. 'The more religions I know, the more vocabulary I have for dealing with the human condition,' Shapiro says. 'In the future, I think we'll root our spirituality in our humanity, not our ethnicity. People will say, "I'm Jewish AND I find the teachings of Jesus compelling," or "I'm Christian and I find (Muslim mystic) Rumi's poetry amazing."' Entrepreneurial Shapiro is busy with his own hyphenated identity as author-poet-professor-blogger-explorer-of-world-religions, with Judaism as his base camp. Add this to the list: He walks six miles a morning as a form of meditative prayer. Since moving to Murfreesboro from Miami four years ago, the rabbi has shared his unusual interfaith enthusiasms with Middle Tennessee... 'It is not enough to be versed in only one religion,' Shapiro, 55, declares in his new book, 'The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness.' 'You are heir to the entire spectrum of human spirituality. ... No one religion has a monopoly on lovingkindness, and each has something to offer those who have made the choice for heaven.'"