Meeting points for Abraham's children
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Beyond the Dysfunctional Family-Jews, Christians and Muslims in Dialogue with Muslims in Dialogue with Each Other and With Britain, edited by Tony Bayfield, Alan Race and Ataullah Siddiqui, The Manor House Abrahamic Dialogue Group, £12:99
The product of a group who met over many years, this book is remarkable for the appreciative openness its members achieved with each other. Dialogue is always a journey, beginning with suspicion of the other accompanied by a desire to defend the obvious rightness of one’s own position. If it works, there is meeting and engagement, re-imaging of one’s own tradition and of the other.
Closeness and real understanding emerge only if there is honesty, transparency and effort. Predicated on the belief that relationships between the Abrahamic traditions do not have to remain “trapped in dsyfunctionality”, the group met to share their thoughts away from identity politics, hoping to move beyond toleration into a shared acceptance of one another.
A critical friendship emerges as the contributors listen deeply and respond thoughtfully. It begins with a representative from each faith discussing how they feel as a religious person in Britain today, then sets up a dialogue between two faiths with the other faith member “eavesdropping”.
The third section addresses important theological and philosophical issues, including the role of scripture, modernity and, most poignantly, violence, followed by self-critical reflection and finally a platform towards building a shared future.