Conflict and Conciliation: Faith and Politics in an Age of Global Dissonance pages:151-171
This article consists of four sections, beginning with an exploration of the relation between religion and violence. Based on recent empirical research in the domain of psychology of religion, the author argues that there is no necessary link between religious identity on the one hand and violence on the other hand, but that the decisive factor is whether one believes in a literal or a symbolic way. The second section turns towards the hermeneutical anthropology of Paul Ricoeur who develops a narrative understanding of religious identity, based on a dialectic tension between identity and otherness. These thoughts on hermeneutics and narrativity provide the necessary foundation to reflect on the possible contribution of interreligious dialogue to the process of conflict resolution and peace building. Thus, section three criticises the tendency within certain interreligious organisations to focus on interreligious commonalities. This strategy is based on an oversimplified understanding of the relation between religion and violence, which does not tally with the empirical findings. The fourth section proposes an alternative model of interreligious dialogue in which narratives and imagination play a crucial role. The danger of dogmatism and fanaticism can be avoided when the dialogue partners are open for the stories of the religious other. Moreover, narratives posses an evocative (maybe even provocative) power, which compels to action and change. The future of interreligious dialogue lies in the addressing of these traditions specific narratives. The concluding section develops practical application of the narrative approach to interreligious dialogue.