Interreligious Hospitiality

The other night I came across an interesting article by Fr. Pierre-François de Béthune entitled, "Interreligious Dialogue and Sacred Hospitality". Here is an extract: 

The author, a Benedictine monk with decades of experience in interfaith dialogue, argues here that dialogue is necessary but not sufficient for mutual understanding between religions. Even when unclouded by an overbearing wish to convert and persuade, dialogue is still limited to verbal exchanges, which do not necessarily require an existential engagement. Hospitality offers a model for much deeper understanding. It requires trust and welcome, and Hallows a context for participation in the activities of another faith. Fr. de Béthune examines very similar traditions of hospitality in several religious and cultural traditions, all of which identify the act of welcoming a stranger with the act of welcoming the presence of God. In particular, he draws attention to several Biblical instances, in both Testaments, of instructions to welcome strangers and to seek welcome from strangers—instructions which "have not been followed very faithfully." He concludes with a description of what he has learned about his own faith from the practice of Buddhist meditation.

What do you think? Without dismissing the need for dialogue, or indeed evangelism, I think there is much truth to this. In my experience some of the deeper understanding of other religions has come through the simple act of welcoming others into my home and being welcomed into the home of others.

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