I had asked my students to create their own rules of interreligious dialogue (IRD). They were allowed to research and borrow from others, but the end result and explanation should be their own. I was quite pleased with the results. Here are a few of the lists (minus the explanations):
1. Converse Despite the Differences
2. Converse with Knowledge of One’s Own Identity
3. Converse to Seek Understanding (of the other’s perspective)
4. Converse with Open Mind and Heart
5. Converse with Silence (focus on listening)
6. Converse to Strengthen One’s Faith
7. Converse to Build Relationship with the Other
8. Converse as an Act of Glorifying God
Don’t Lie (be sincere)
Involve the Church
Assume Not (what the other believes)
Learn and Grow (be open to change)
Observe Self-reflection (be open to challenge in the process)
Go with Respect (demonstrate courtesy)
Understand Your Own Belief
Equal Your Footing (demonstrate fairness and mutuality)
- Preparation and Prayer (God is part of the conversation)
- Demonstrate courtesy to the other
- Build confidence and trust in the conversation
- Draw the net slowly. Don’t just pull the conversation quickly to your own favorite topics.
- Exchange belief. Listen and Share
- Be respectful of individual differences
- Interpret one’s belies in a manner that would be understandable or “make sense” to the other
- Have a good conclusion. Highlight good and true points and show appreciation for them.
I will give just the above three lists. However, from others in the group were some good rules to remember as well. Here are some.
- Choose dress and behavior that will not offend or harm the relationship
- Start conversation with areas of commonality before addressing differences
- Bridge the language gap speaking to their language and language level.
- Demonstrate gratitude for their time and their sharing and listening
- Have a good introduction… words and behavior that help the person want to have a dialogue with you rather than want to leave.
- Have a limited time frame. Conversation should not be forced into a small timeslot… but there should be limits so it doesn’t just wander aimlessly.