In 2015 I felt a burning passion in my heart, my bones, my soul. I saw increasing divisions in our society. I saw the dehumanization of Muslims, Jews, Indigenous and so many more. I knew that we were on a path that leads to fear and violence. We are still on that path now. Many of us are holding our breath right now, not sure what to do, not sure if anything can make a difference.
We don’t have to live this way!
I have seen the power of relationships between people of diverse traditions and cultures. When people get to know each other and work together for the common good, everyone takes a deep breath. When people with deeply held beliefs treat each other with respect, we can relax around each other.
In the last eight years I have spoken in hundreds of Christian congregations about being in relationship with people of diverse wisdom traditions. I heard longing. But I also lots of fears:
Is it faithful to respect and learn from other traditions?
I realized many of Christians grew up in churches that, while being loving and meaning well, were infected with supremacy – the belief that the Christian church and tradition are not only best for us but make us better than others. I saw a complex series of ideas, attitudes, and biblical interpretation that make it hard for us to love, appreciate, and partner with people of other traditions.
As I worked with churches, I reflected on my own supremacy. I looked at the church of my childhood, the theology I read, the songs I sang, and the prayers I prayed and realized I had all the same questions and all the same fears.
I realized that I needed to help Christians step up to the intercultural and interfaith relationships we need.
I realized that Christians don’t have to choose either Jesus or our fellow human beings.
I wrote Go and Do Likewise: Following Jesus into our Common Humanity to help Christians work with people of all traditions. Just as PTU’s founders Father Treacy and Rabbi Levine before me, I needed to model how I could be committed to interfaith work as an expression of my own tradition: All in hope of more multi-faith relationships and work for the common good.
We are living in a time of profound divisions. But we can be a part of the healing that our world needs so badly. I hope that Go and Do Likewise will help Christians recognize that it is faithful to Jesus to work with people of all cultures and traditions to heal these divisions.