Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Christianity & Islam: Breathing space as well as exercising the intellect

"Oasis" suggests a spot where one can breathe easier and find refreshment. Oasis is also the name of a project,

an attempt to foster a global network of contacts among Christians and Muslims, attaching special importance to the voices and experiences of Christians who live in majority Muslim nations across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While Oasis sponsors academic conferences and a journal, it's also devoted to giving voice to real-life experiences of ordinary people, not just intellectual experts and the professional artisans of dialogue.
Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Venice, is this project's lead sponsor. Four other cardinals--not
identified with what one might consider "soft" positions on Catholic teaching or practice. That distinguishes Oasis from some other initiatives, which bring the avant-garde of different traditions into conversation, but not the mainstream. Among other things, Christian leaders who gravitate around Oasis are often willing to challenge Muslims on issues of reciprocity and religious freedom more forcefully than one sometimes finds in other inter-religious forums.
The above quotations are from last week's "All Things Catholic" by Mr. John L. Allen Jr.

Cardinal Scola is all for both the populist expression of religions buttressed with strong intellectual support. The 66-year-old Cardinal Scola also has the future of humanity in mind:
Where is the future for humanity? It is certainly not the dogmatic religion or the purist expression of religion, even in the United States. In the United States, there is a populist expression of religion exactly as we have it in Egypt, or in India, or in Pakistan. There's no difference sociologically or culturally between the discourse of the American televangelists and the discourse given through Al-Jazeera. If you respect that kind of faith and you want to promote this, it's a mistake. It's not working for the future, and it's not working for the young generation.
Read Mr. Allen's complete column to appreciate the Oasis Project better and even gain a breath of fresh air around the necessary Christian-Islamic dialogue still in its infancy.
Wiki-image of an oasis by Hendrik Dacquin aka loufi is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

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