Paradigmatic Boxes: Beyond “Tolerance”, “Diversity”, and “Pluralism” to “Interfaith Communion”
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
(aka Faruq ‘Abd al Haqq)
It seems that increasingly many people in America are stuck in paradigmatic boxes. It seems more than clear that for half a century Muslims have been among the worst offenders. This may be inevitable, because the history of religion in America demonstrates that the so-called “interfaith community” is always one level behind what it purports to be.
The most absurd box is known as “tolerance”, which means “I won’t kill you yet”. Occasionally one encounters reference to “diversity”, which means ““You’re here, damn it, and I can’t do much about it”. Rarely, if ever, is there any concept of individual “pluralism”, which means, “We welcome you because we each have so much to offer each other”.
On June 8th, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), under the new-generation leadership of its new Executive Director, Abubaker Shinqieti, with the support of the movement modeled by the revolutionary new leadership of Dr. Safi Kaskas in the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), is holding its regular monthly “round table” under the title “Beyond Dialogue to Interfaith Communion”.
This roundtable at the IIIT’s headquarters building in Herndon, Virginia, is moderated by Joseph Montville, a Washington insider with an impressive track record in conflict resolution, who together with the student of comparative legal systems, Dr. Robert D. Crane, has been one of the IIIT’s two “Senior Research Scholars”. The panelists are Rabbi Gerry Serotta and Imam Yahya Hendi, both from Clergy Beyond Borders, and John Fairfield of Eastern Menonnite University.
These breakers of paradigmatic boundaries invite participation in developing interfaith dialogue to its perhaps highest level, namely, “interfaith communion,” which means “to commune with each other’s religions - and any other religion - as an authentic, permanent, prized religious state of affairs embodying commitment to hospitable life together in a community without coercion, while expressing, struggling with, and learning from each other”.