domingo, 5 de abril de 2009


Few days ago, I attended a conference on Dialog among Religions, organized by the UNESCO Center of Catalonia ( and held in Barcelona. With all those speeches still fresh in my mind, I will try to explain some ideas and images that captured my attention. At this time, I am not able to produce my own ideas about dialog among religions. Maybe with some more time…

Mr. Jean François Mayer, Director of the Swiss Institute Religioscope (, dedicated his presentation to an image which captures what a nice space of dialog is: the praying spaces found at airports. It seems to me a beautiful image of tolerance and understanding based on sharing a common ground of spirituality. Maybe some of you have paid attention to them… They are small spaces constituting churches, synagogues and mosques at the same time. If you happen to go there, you will find Christians, Muslims, Jews and other religious communities praying together. Each one is praying following his/her cult, all respecting the others, all sharing a moment of peace and spirituality. This proves that different religions can coexist in peace and good neighborhood.

At this point, my first question arrives: Why some religious people/organizations/leaders insist in fostering confrontation among faiths? (Is it to preserve their power?) Do the different “churches” put the necessary energy (through praying, talking and giving direct advice) in giving a clear message of brotherhood and “no exclusion” of other religions? Obviously they do not.

The Swiss presenter made a bright point on what Tolerance is: the analysis of other religions through the schemes (points of view) of the religion type you look at, instead of through your own schemes. My point of view: things take another sense when you succeed (it always requires an effort to do so) to see them from a different point of view this does not imply to take another sense when you succeed. Try to apply this to an ordinary conversation, a business negotiation, a conflict with wife/husband, etc… and you will immediately see how you advance, you evolve in the process of understanding and reaching a better consensus. If you apply this to the way you look towards the “church” appearing in front of your eyes, you will soon start understanding and loving it.

Mr Xavier Melloni, Professor of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Barcelona, a young priest from the Company of Jesus (“Jesuit”) opened a bright, clear and well modeled chat. It was excellent. Profound but easy to understand, and pleasant to hear.

If you are not familiar with the Company of Jesus, I can say that they are always very well educated (2 Phds, most of them hold 2 PhD’s), with a sharp thinking, and quite progressive ideas. Nevertheless, they always show them (the ideas) in a way that they seem not to challenge anything (but in their deep meaning, they challenge lots of things).

Going back to Mr. Xavier Melloni… As an introduction, he spoke about the two forces that religions do have inside of them, and that they are forces pulling towards opposed sides. This two forces are: on one side the identity, roots and sense of community, and on the opposed side the process to transcend, to empty unnecessary loads… that is to say… to remove, release, give away many things in order to be able to grow high as a human and a member of the Universe, son of God, etc.

This two confronted forces bring us to a necessary paradox (here comes the part I liked most): the need to conduct a still, slow and healthy process to ease the absolutisms, to soften the most tight and strong ideas that religions do hold and do pretend.

Hereinbefore is the way he expressed the idea. Hereinafter are my own ideas: “things” are not as much as “they” have told us.

Each of you will now immediately wonder what do I mean when I say “things” and when I say “they”. By “things” I mean all that stuff that we have been taught as ideas that we must believe because they are true. By “they” I mean the people we respected that, since we were kids, have taught us stories, concepts, ideas and have insisted us that they were true and that we had to believe them the way they taught us.

Mr Melloni furnished us with some other “new” ideas. I am still trying to see their deepness, and to see how far could I get by riding these ideas and letting my mind to travel further…

He spoke about a new paradigm… the Dialog (among religions)… the difficult art of dialog. Throwing some healthy theory to the audience, he explained Dialog as a continuing process of alienation of oneself:

* Ecstasy – you get out of yourself
* Alteration – you change
* Emtasy (?) – you go back to yourself

This process allows and facilitates the advance …it is like going up in the a stairs: you get your foot out of its place, you make it advance and, finally, you put it again in its (new) place…

In other words if you do not change your position you will never go progress. But changing your position requires an effort and (probably) a risk.

Now, try to apply the previous ideas to understand another religion (yes… that religion/church that you dislike and that you think it has so bad points…). Moreover, try to apply these to the points of view of your wife/husband, to your client/supplier’s ones, to your kids/parents’, etc…

Reaching the end of his speech, he spoke about a quite abstract concept: the “multi-form transcendent “stuff” that each religion configures (explains) in a different way”… Smart.. isn’t it? It is a surprising idea coming from a priest.

But, to my surprise, this idea captures 100% of my thoughts about religions (mine, the one of my education, but also about other religions I know and I love, and that I learned later on in my life).
To finish, Mr Melloni threw the last (challenging) idea. To do it softly, he exposed that as a question (not as a statement):

Is dialog among religions going towards a superior synthesis?

Just take this question and try to think what was Mr. Melloni suggesting. In my opinion, such a smart and clever guy was showing us only a tiny part of a big issue laying behind the question. We could see the power of new ideas about religions. It is your own job to guess what…

To add my own crazy ideas:

Is globalization reaching the (closed) sphere of religions??

Does this suggest anything to you? Did you ever think about globalization and religions?