Annorlunda men angelägen. Religionsdialogens roll i strävan efter fred, förståelse och försoning


  • Ruth Illman


In this article, the author analyses the theme of inter-religious dialogue, i.e. the striving towards relationships based on understanding, respect and equality between religions, on the basis of an ecumenical peace appeal signed by several Finnish church leaders. The appeal states that religion can be used for promoting peace and reconciliation, and that a religious conviction can make way for understanding and respect between persons of different faiths. To analyse these statements, theoretical guidance is sought in the dialogue philosophy of Martin Buber, hermeneutic theory and some current perspectives from moral philosophy. Emphasis is put on the importance of otherness: without an other regarded with respect and humility as an equal partner, a Thou who can remain other but still be close, the dialogue turns into a monologue. Understanding does not require sameness: neither party is required to give up their own identity in order for a «fusion of horizons» to occur. Thus, differences are seen as possibilities rather than obstacles. The dialogue efforts based on religious conviction is seen as filling a function of its own in the global peace movement, e.g. by contributing with a language that facilitates a way of talking about the uniqueness of every individual. Lastly, ethical issues such as individual responsibility are discussed in connection to the strong emphasis on concrete actions put forward in the appeal. Discerning the humanity in the persons we meet is, in the words of Wittgenstein, thus seen as a cornerstone of inter-religious dialogue.