11. Finding the Right Questions about Religious Diversity: What Buddhist Could Contribute to Discussions of Religious Diversity
Rita Gross [+]
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
This chapter argues that all current theologies of religion share the presupposition that differences among religions are a problem, even a mistake, and that unity or agreement would be preferable to difference and religious diversity. But theologians of religion need to start at the other end of the puzzle, conceding from the get-go that religious diversity is here to stay, is inevitable, normal, natural, and, therefore, not the major problem or issue. The important questions are not about them, the others who are different from us, but about us. Why do we dislike diversity so much? Why does it make us so uncomfortable? Why does difference so frequently elicit the response of ranking the different options hierarchically? And, most important of all, how can we cure our own discomfort with diversity? The chapter also suggests that we need to practice the spiritual disciplines that help us overcome our egocentric preferences for a world in which everyone else would be just like us and can, instead, live comfortable in a world that accommodates vast differences.