[Buddha-l] Watery dharma

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue Dec 18 14:52:46 MST 2007

On Tuesday 18 December 2007 14:24, curt at cola.iges.org wrote:

> If Richard or anyone else believes they
> have some evidence of genuine religious tolerance among Christians earlier
> than this - please don't keep you candle under a bushel.

Exactly when tolerance became part of European culture is impossible to 
pinpoint. People were advocating it before the time of the American 
revolution. The idea met by approval in some quarters and was resisted in 
others. The Dutch and Poles and Transylvanians were usually pretty good at 
practicing tolerance, as were some Americans, but in every place where 
toleration too root, there was also some degree of backlash.

What difference does it make whether toleration has a long history in Europe? 
What is more important is that it has taken root pretty firmly in many parts 
of the world, although one can also find at least some xenophobia, hatred and 
intolerance almost anywhere one travels. (Does anyone see signs of hope that 
people of Korean ancestry born in Japan will be accepted as full Japanese 
citizens, or that Indonesians and Southeast Asians will be allowed to 
immigrate to Japan and become naturalized citizens?)

Within Christianity I see as positive signs that the Catholic church 
completely renounced triumphalism in the 1960 and that embracing 
multiculturalism and religious pluralism is now a part of the majority of 
mainline Protestant denominations. I see as negative signs that mainline 
Protestantism is rapidly losing ground and that the decisions of the Second 
Vatican Council are in constant danger of erosion, especially under the 
current pope and his predecessor.

What I see as the deeper issue is human xenophobia and exclusionism. It takes 
many forms. In some places it has been expressed as religious intolerance. In 
other places it has taken other forms. Nowhere is it necessary. Wherever fear 
of others occurs, it can be countered. It is less likely to be countered if 
one begins by rehearsing all the sins of the past and gets stuck there, as if 
the patterns of history define the essence of people of the present.

Richard P. Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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