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Interfaith Inform: July 13, 2021
Kaufman Interfaith Institute


Interfaith Insight
Doug Kindschi
Director, Kaufman Interfaith Institute
Picking favorites from the last seven and a half years 
 In the past seven and a half years the Grand Rapids Press has published each Thursday in its Religion section the column Interfaith Insights. That represents nearly 400 columns plus other special articles and features to which we have contributed. Because of staff reductions and financial constraints at The Press, this week’s Insight will be the last one published in this format. We will, however, continue to write columns that you may read at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute website or delivered by mail. 
For this last column in the Press, I’m sharing some of my favorite quotes from previous installments. I trust this will serve as a brief summary of those individuals and resources that have inspired my own insights these past years.
Jonathan Sacks: “Don’t think we can confine God into our categories. God is bigger than religion.”
Krister Stendahl: “In the eyes of God, we are all minorities. That’s a rude awakening for many Christians, who have never come to grips with the pluralism of the world.”
David Brooks: “To be religious, as I understand it, is to perceive reality through a sacred lens, to feel that there are spiritual realities in physical, imminent things.”  
Elliot Cosgrove: “The great strength of a quest-driven faith is that it permits me to affirm my own beliefs, even as they develop, all the while respecting the integrity of another person’s path.”
Pope Francis “We do not have to make a distinction between believers and nonbelievers; let’s go to the root: humanity. Before God, we are all his children.”
Krister Stendahl: “Three rules for interfaith understanding:
1.  When trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
2.  Don’t compare your best to their worst.
3.  Leave room for holy envy.”
Barbara Brown Taylor: “Could my faith be improved by the faith of others? … My envy of other traditions turned into holy envy, offering me the chance to be born again within my own tradition.”
Avishai Margalit: “Can Judaism, Christianity and Islam be pluralistic? The question is not whether they can tolerate one another, but whether they can accept the idea that the other religions have intrinsic value. … They will not only refrain from persecuting the others but will also encourage the flourishing of their way of life.”
Dick Rhem: “Good religion does not divide, but unites; good religion does not denigrate, but affirms; good religion enables us to transform all that would divide us.”
Eboo Patel: “It’s a potluck dinner versus the melting pot. The melting pot says we’re going to eliminate distinctiveness, but a potluck says we should bring something to the big, open table that welcomes different contributions from communities, and that’s the way the nation feasts.”
Amy-Jill Levine: “Conversations across religions need not, and should not, end with all the participants proclaiming an ultimate unity of belief. Such an exercise only waters down both traditions into a bland universalism that, in an attempt to be inoffensive, winds up offending everyone.”
Richard Mouw: “God is God, and we are not, which means that we fall far short of omniscience. … This means that what might at first glance appear to be our radical disagreement with a certain point of view might, upon humble reflection, require a confession of sin … It requires a spirit of theological humility.”
Nancy Fuchs Kreimer: “We are not God, so we don’t know how God most wants to be worshipped. We have a better idea how people want to be treated. We are not commanded to love our religions. We are commanded to love our neighbors.”
Billy Graham: (when asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people), “Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won’t. ... I don’t want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”
Martin Luther King Jr.: “This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a big house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together – black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslim and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.”
John Lewis: “In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house — not just the house of black and white, but … the house of America. We can move ahead, we can move forward, we can create a multiracial community, a truly democratic society. I think we’re on our way there. … We have to be hopeful. Never give up, never give in, keep moving on.”
Nelson Mandela: (pointing towards Robben Island, where he spent over 25 years in prison), "I would still be there if it were not for the Christians, the Jews, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Baha'is, the Quakers, those from indigenous African religions and those of no religion at all, working together in the struggle against apartheid."
Donniel Hartman: “The human religious desire to live in relationship with God often distracts religious believers from their traditions’ core moral truths. Religious believers must hold their traditions accountable by the highest independent moral standards. Decency toward one’s neighbor must always take precedence over acts of religious devotion and ethical piety must trump ritual piety.”
Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”
John F. Kennedy: “This nation … will not be fully free until all its citizens are free. … While we rejoice over the liberation of the ancient Israelites, we remember that many others are still not free. … We give voice to those around the world and within our community who are excluded, oppressed, or enslaved.  We are all part of one human family, all connected, and all responsible for one another.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel: “In a free society some are guilty, but all are responsible.”  
Jonathan Sacks: “What will be the shape of a post-COVID-19 world? Will we use this unparalleled moment to reevaluate our priorities, or will we strive to get back as quickly as possible to business as usual?  Will we have changed or merely endured? Will the pandemic turn out to have been a transformation of history or merely an interruption of it?”
Jim Wallis: “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change.”
Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
I will continue my reading and sharing insights as we go forward and thank the readers who have joined us either through the Grand Rapids Press or from our weekly online Interfaith Inform newsletter.  I trust you will continue.

These weekly Insights are published in the Grand Rapids Press'  Religion section every Thursday.

For an archive of previous articles,
click here.