Rules of Order

The purpose of this site is to discuss various topics relating to the history and theology of early Christianity, as well as early Christianity’s intersection and interaction with Judaism.The intent of this site is to be a place where people of different religious traditions and backgrounds can discuss these matters together.

This site probably has something of a Jewish character, which is natural. I’m something of a Jewish character. Nevertheless, all are welcome here.

There is a major question to consider: how do we conduct interfaith dialog? One of my favorite writers, Amy-Jill Levine, said once that we should not sacrifice the particularities of our individual traditions on the altar of interfaith sensitivity. By this I understand that we should come to interfaith dialog as we are, and express our thoughts and feelings as clearly as we can.

But the goals of interfaith dialog are not necessarily the same as when we discuss religion with people who share our faith tradition. On this site, our primary goal is mutual understanding: the effort to communicate our own traditions, faith and understanding, and to “get” the traditions, faith and understanding of the other person (not necessarily in that order!).

In future posts, I plan to explore the question of interfaith dialog. For the moment, here are three rules governing how to leave comments on this site:

1.  Be nice. Be polite. Be respectful.

2.  No proselytizing.

3.  Follow Krister Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding:

  • If you want to understand another religion, ask its adherents, not its enemies.
  • Don’t compare your best to their worst.
  • Leave room for “holy envy” — that is, room for discovering some aspect of another religion that you admire, while at the same time accepting that this aspect belongs not to you but to a separate faith community.

One final thought. These rules strike me as universal in content and oddly Jewish in form: the first and third rules each contain three rules, and the second rule refers to commentary (in the form of a hyperlink). I think this bodes well.