Proceedings Of The First Annual Conference Towards A Global Congress Of World Religions - Edited by Warren Lewis - 1978
Warren Lewis: We have to live with the fact that today people will be coming and going. There's going to be something of an intellectual-spiritual smorgasbord, I think. People are leaving San Francisco, some have other meetings they want to attend. So some will be with us for a while and then they'll go away, and then they'll come back. If you are one of those people who has to go, we will simply adjust our agenda to accommodate you. David Kalupahana from the University of Hawaii would like to make a response to yesterday's activities, as would Richard Rubenstein, as would James Deotis Roberts. Peter Bilaniuk, who has to leave at about ten o'clock, has asked to say something too.
I would like to begin this morning's responses to yesterday's session with this comment: What we had to say to one another yesterday turned out to be fairly irenic, I thought. As a matter of fact, I was delighted at how things went yesterday. But I think that now the "convocation" is probably over and the "faculty meeting" is about to begin. Today is the day we roll up our sleeves, go to work on the ideas, and probably one another as well. Although yesterday was lovely and unitive, today need not programmatically be so. There will be criticism and critique and counterproposal, and certainly that will be welcome.
Since none of the named respondents is here yet, why don't we have someone else kick off. Let's start with Mary Carmen, because she said she has to leave.
Mary Carmen Rose: I myself in middle age have become a committed Christian and I expect to stay there. But all along, from the beginning, I've been encouraged by my looking at the world's great religions; my own Christianity is thoroughly illumined by what I know of Hinduism, Taoism, and all of them. I think that the differences must be maintained and can be understood. Each of the great ways of life has its roots in a particular view of reality, but we have something to learn from each other because our roots are in different places. I think that we have a criterion for judging the position from which we can best learn; it is the willingness to cultivate what Martin Buber calls the "I-Thou" relationship. One thing common among all the great world religions is what I call the classical view of inquiry. We've lost it in our day; we think of inquiry only in terms of the intellect; that's not the view of the traditional religions. Traditional religions ask for commitment of the entire self to doing the good works, the great work. Those of you interested in this must bring a commitment of the entire self. In the name of the world's great religions I tell you: If we do this, then the Tao will be with us!
Warren Lewis: "The Force be with you." (Laughter)
Paul Sharkey (Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of Southern Mississippi): I'm very nervous, due to the fact that I have to talk about something I don't know anything about, yet I feel very strongly about that thing. I'm perplexed by the proposal because I'm not sure what the telos is. I think we all, perhaps, feel a frustration which Whitehead, I believe, clarifies in Science in the Modern World, when he talks about the relationship between religion and science in the Western world as being one of conflict, the result of which has been that religion has taken the defensive. Religion seemed to have "lost" to science in the case of Galileo and others similar. One thing we're trying to say here is we would like to regain a respectability for religion, for being religious. It has pained m e a great deal at this [ICUS] conference that the sciences seem to be "respectable," that they are the "leaders". And yet, from so many eminent scientists at this conference there is a fear that science is losing some of its respectability in the world. If we lose respect for science, which I take very broadly to be epistemic and would include philosophy, and we lose respect for religion -- the two most influential and important of human endeavors -- then ultimately we lose respect for ourselves. The conflicts, I agree with Whitehead, are not a sign of decay, but of potentiality for growth. Through cooperation, rather than competition, among both the religions and the sciences, as well as between science and religion, we can achieve that growth.
I was brought up in Southern California; I come from what I call a cultureless culture, and I lament this aspect of American culture, which seems to be the culture of California. We lose our differences; the Jew doesn't want to be known as a Jew, the Italian doesn't want to be known as an Italian, etc. I have a great respect for the American blacks who would like to maintain some of their cultural heritage -- soul food, the African culture, this sort of thing. It's interesting to me that when we play, we seek out other cultures; we come to places like San Francisco, because it is a multi-cultured city; we don't go to Los Angeles, and even if we go to Los Angeles, we seek out multi-cultural things there: Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, and so forth. We respect cultures which have maintained their integrity.
I would like to suggest a new metaphor that came out of my experience at ICUS entertainments last night. Instead of yesterday's "stew," the kind of cooperation we find among certain sciences is what we want to achieve in religion, a symphony or, if you will, a brass band. It's not a uniformity; they're not all trumpet players. It's not in unison; they don't all play together, and each instrument, in fact, each part within the sections of those instruments, must be different and must do something different in order for the beauty of the composition, both of the band and of the piece they are playing, to be revealed. A symphony or a band is not a uniformity; it is not playing in unison, except occasionally, and it's not made up of only one kind of instrument. It's important to recall that the conductor is not a member of the band, except when he does become a member of the band, in which case we no longer have a conductor. It is cooperation that makes a symphony or a band, a cooperative effort of each part, not even each instrument. In the violin section, not everyone plays the first violin part. It's a cooperation of each part doing its own part, its own individual thing; and if each does not do his own part well, then the meta-result, the harmonia, for which each of the separate parts exists, will not be achieved. What kind of band would we have if there were no respect for the piccolo, simply because he is a piccolo, but rather the trumpet section was thought to be more important because it somehow or other has greater respectability in the hierarchy of the band, which is usually the case in bands? If we all thought we had to be trumpet players, and all play the same part, the same tune, in unison at the same time, I am sure I would not want to hear such a performance. We should not be talking about a conference on unity of religions, and I'm not even sure we ought to be holding a conference on the unity of science. Perhaps we ought to have a conference on the cooperation of the sciences, but not the unity of it, and to build mutual respect because of, rather than in spite of, our differences. Thereby we come closer to something each of us desires -- self-respect.
Petro B. T. Bilaniuk (Professor of Theology, Religious Studies, and Church History, St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada): First of all, ladies and gentlemen, let me put it bluntly. I'm a sincere Slav, that is, a Ukrainian, who doesn't hide his feelings and doesn't hide his thoughts. I was profoundly disturbed by what I heard here yesterday. It was such a terrible mess that I didn't know where the beginning was and where was the end. Let us start from the very beginning, namely from the topic, or the title, of this paper distributed to us, "Towards a Congress of the World Religions: Affirmations and a Tentative Plan. "I understand there can be a congress on the world religions, or there can be a congress of the believers; but some hypostatic Christianity is not going to march in or some Buddhism-in-abstraction or Hinduism-in-general. We have to correct our speaking; we cannot mix abstractions with concrete realities. Furthermore, ladies and gentlemen, in this paper, there is no attempt to define what religion is all about; and that's a basic thing. We have to know what we are talking about. Furthermore, yesterday there were speakers saying we have to invite religions but not churches. In that case, you would be excluding all the Eastern churches automatically, because they believe that their expression of religion is only through the churches, in the church, as members of the church, as members in particular of the mystical body of Christ.
Furthermore, when I heard some statements about dialogue with Marxists, I was profoundly disturbed; because people were saying that the Marxist critique of religion is a brilliant one. I lived in the Soviet Union; for your information I was born there, and I was an object of Soviet education, anti-religious education. Believe me, there is nothing brilliant about it. It is brutal, inhuman, and, at the same time, they're anti-intellectual. Therefore, if you wish right away to enter into dialogue with Marxists, you have to realize that you're entering into dialogue with deadly enemies of religion. Take a look at what happened in Albania. In 1968, after the Cultural Revolution which happened there, in imitation of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, all religion was prohibited. Possession of any religious object or religious book or expression of religion was made punishable by law. They proclaimed themselves the perfect atheistic state in the world. Try to discuss religion with them! What I'm driving at is this: as long as Marxists are in the minority somewhere, they're going to enter into dialogue by criticizing you; they're going to throw mud at you, and then you have to defend yourself. But when they're in the majority and already have government in their hands, you are their victim; you have nothing to say; there is no longer any dialogue but rather a monologue of the party towards you. If you disobey, you are either liquidated or thrown out on the garbage heap. So, let us be realistic about things! And let us name things by name. In Red China, they've never proclaimed officially that they are an atheistic state. They didn't make it a law. But they practice it. All religious expression or organized religion vanished. All churches and synagogues, etc., etc., were closed. There is nothing left officially. They didn't proclaim it as a law, but they enforce it as law. So again, we have to realize what we are saying. Garaudy, a very fine gentleman, a Communist and a Marxist, was too friendly in his dialogue to Christians; so the result was that the French Communist Party expelled him. And this will happen to those with whom you are going to speak, if they become too friendly; they will be expelled by the machinery.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to propose that we start with a very modest program. This congress proposal is overloaded. We are trying to do more than the United Nations, do more than the World Council of Churches, do more than anybody has done before. Therefore, I would propose that we convoke a congress of believers. We can specify then and restrict ourselves not to the social issues right away or some sort of very bombastic program. Instead, let us discuss what religion is, what is the nature of God, what are His operations in regard to creation, what is the divine self-revelation, how does it operate? What is the divine immanence and transcendence of God? Then, what is human being in world religion? That is, that he's religious by nature, the human being is religious by nature. Then as the last practical point, we have to explore religious freedom and freedom of worship and that's all. I wouldn't go beyond these three points. Because if you immerse yourself in dialogue with all the philosophical representatives of the contemporary world, without having created a common basis for those who will be the representatives of those different religions, you're doomed not only to failure, but destruction, in fact. They are going to find cracks in your position, and they will sit back and watch how you're fighting among yourselves. Thank you.
Charles Malik (Professor of Philosophy, American University of Beirut): Mr. Chairman, my distinguished Greek Orthodox coreligionist, who has just spoken, stole many of my remarks from me. So, before others steal the remainder, I rise to put in my deposition. But I'm very grateful to him for the observations he made. The preliminary observation I would like to make is that as a practicing religious man myself, and not only a reflector on religion, as though it is something out there to be reflected on, I make the distinction between what I call "humanly speaking" and what is in the mind of God. Therefore, my judgments, for what they are worth, are all within the realm of what I call humanly speaking. Everything I say is humanly speaking. Humanly speaking, I feel myself critical of the orientation of your thinking about this matter. God has very strange ways of acting, as those of us who have studied His ways of acting in history know. I cannot be sure that He is not doing something absolutely extraordinary now through you, Mr. Chairman, and your ideas. But, humanly speaking, I feel there is much to be careful about and much to be criticized. And with the largeness of heart that you have, I know you will permit me to speak of a congress of world religions.
The first point I want to make is that you speak of a congress of world religions. Either you are serious or you are joking. If you are joking, we participate in the joke. It's a very interesting joke. But, my dear friend, who is going to call this congress? You? Supposing nobody comes? How can a congress of world religions be called except from the standpoint of one of these world religions. You've got to answer me. Do you place yourself outside all of them, and then, as it were, you extend an invitation to them? I don't know how that works. I haven't the slightest doubt, I assure you, and please believe me, of your sincerity, of your concern, or of the tremendous significance of the problem that you put to yourself, namely the relevance of world religions, taken together, to the present critical world situation. I have absolutely no quarrel with that sense of urgency and relevance on your part. But a congress of world religions, what does it mean? These are very responsible words: "Congress." "World Religion." Now, the distinction to be made here is, and you've got to clarify it yourself, is it going to be a conclave of religions for dialogue and exchange and mutual acquaintance? That's one thing. Or, is it something with a view to the creation of a new organization as a separate entity with a view to action? Which of the two do you have in mind? A congress, a conclave of religions for dialogue and exchange and acquaintance, or the creation of a new organization as a separate entity with a view to action? Two completely separate things. You say, we begin with the first and the Holy Spirit may lead us into the second, or not. Well, I know how these things begin, and I know how they develop, and I know how they end, one way or the other. But you've got to be very careful from the very beginning about what you want, and you should take responsibility for how everything develops. That was the first major point.
On the second major point, the previous speaker stole my fire. Yesterday, a gentleman whom I deeply respect, [Joseph Meeker], spoke about the distinction between churches and religions; and he got some applause. I did not applaud him. I did not participate in the applause, but it showed the atmosphere, you see. Once a man makes that distinction and the audience responds positively to it, you are facing a very serious problem. The distinction between religions and churches is a false distinction. The distinction between religious people and church people is a false distinction. The distinction between religiousness in general, uberhaupt, and religion in the concrete is a false distinction. And yet the gentleman got your applause, which reflects your point of view, your attitude, your abstracting into some kind of a man of religious nature. My dear friends, this distinction is a false distinction. Man, the individual, is already an abstraction. Each man belongs to twenty communities at the same time, and therefore each man has twenty attachments and loyalties at the same time. If you want to get the people together as mere individuals, with general religiousness about them, well, all power to you; certainly you will get them; they are floating around everywhere. But what is the effectiveness of that? Nothing, except a gradual building up of a new religion. This is not impossible. I'm talking humanly speaking. Everything is humanly speaking. If you want to catch a separate individual here and a separate individual there with this general "religiousness" about which I spoke, with no relation to the twenty different communities and attachments and identifications and loyalties which constitute him, well, all right, this is your choice. But then, you must reckon with ineffectiveness. You will be ineffective. On the other hand, you could go to the Pope of Rome, if you dare go to him, and invite him, and tell him, "I want a Cardinal to come to this Congress and I want him to represent the Catholic Church;" you could go to my own patriarch in Istanbul, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and ask him, "I want you to send me one of the other patriarchs to represent the Holy Orthodox Church in this Congress;" do the same thing to the Archbishop of Canterbury; and reckon with three or four hundred Protestant denominations, though there are about six or seven primary ones; go to the Lutherans, go to the Presbyterians, go to the others -- now, I'm sure you're not going to applaud me when I say these things, because you already gave the applause to the man who told you, "Don't go to churches." But I am putting before you this problem that you've got to face. What do you mean by a "Congress of World Religions?" If you do not mean what I am talking about, including the churches, but invite just individuals picked out from the streets of San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York, what effective result will you have? A Congress of World Religions? The first is easier -- individuals picked out here and there on the basis of their general religiousness, it would be very easy to do that, in fact, you can just go down the street a bit -- very powerful. I don't represent God here at all in what I am saying; certainly I don't represent my church in what I am saying. I'm talking rationally. I hope Professor Lewis will permit me to be rational. Thank you.
If you can bear with me, one more word. The last word is this: I call your attention to what I call the fallacy of the lowest common denominator. If you get people together in a congress of world religions, and tell them, "Please talk only about the things that do not differentiate you from others," that is "come down to the lowest common denominator among yourselves," that's one thing. But, humanly speaking, I predict that it will peter out within, at most, ten years. For that's not real existence. Real existence is precisely in the things that differentiate us from each other. If we were all exactly alike, we would not be many. But we are many. The manyness of us is due to the fact that we have different ideas, convictions, outlooks, faiths. Therefore you already introduce a restrictive principle if you aim at the lowest common denominator. If this is a real congress of world religions, you should go to the Muslims and get an official representative of Islam; you should go to Orthodox Judaism and ask them to send you an official representative of their own point of view to speak in their name. Now, I am saying these things to show you that you are probably, again humanly speaking, biting off more than you can chew. But if you ask me to come, if my church sends me representing it, or the representative of Judaism or of Islam or of Hinduism or of any other religion, or of the half-dozen major Protestant denominations, each of us has got to represent his point of view in full. As an Orthodox, I must -- if you really give me the opportunity -- talk to you about the church; about the saints; about the place of the Virgin Mary, which is so offensive to 95% of those in this room here; about the unity of tradition; about all kinds of things. These are offensive to you; but unfortunately, I didn't create the world. This is a world made up of offensive things; and yet, people live under the offense, within the offense, and for the offense. This is the most serious project; God help you with it. I have no idea how the design of God is to come out with this project of yours. I'm absolutely sure of your sincerity and the depth of your concern. But I wanted to point out these three fundamental things.
Warren Lewis: Thank you very much, sir. In the next 15 or 20 minutes, we will hear from the three people who were mentioned earlier: Dr. Kalupahana, Dr. Roberts, and Dr. Rubenstein. After we hear from them, I want to say something very briefly about the nature of our proposal. And then we'll break for a cup of coffee. When we come back from coffee, I would like for us to spend a few minutes actually brainstorming. After we have reported to one another what we came up with in our brainstorming activity, then the time for direct critique of what the other people are saying will come, and as we work on one another's ideas, and amend them, and polish them, we will move towards the goal of the morning. The goal is not the issuance of a statement, an invitation or creed, or even a general consensus, but something different. We're working at a personal level today more importantly than at any other level. These "cracks," as Peter Bilaniuk calls them, are wide and deep; and the job is enormous. We have, "humanly speaking," bitten off more than we can chew. We know that. That is why we're looking for a few extra sets of teeth to help us gnaw away on it. What we're after today is your solidarity; not necessarily your consensus, but your solidarity. Now, let's call on David Kalupahana, who is the Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Hawaii.
David Kalupahana (Chairman of the Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii): Would you mind if I take a couple of minutes to deviate from the discussion and dispel some misunderstandings that I find concerning our friends from the Unification Theological Seminary. The idea for this conference was mentioned to me at the last ICUS Conference in Washington by my friend, Warren. I must say I was very enthusiastic about it at that time; since then we have had long discussions with the Unification Theological Seminary, and Warren came to Hawaii to discuss the possibilities. But the rumor that I've heard in the last couple of days is the idea that Hawaii is opposed to any such conference. I must categorically say that that's not true. Ours is a State University, founded by the taxpayers there; and we have hundreds of religious sects; I myself am very new to the place. So when the proposal came that such a conference might be held in Hawaii, I talked to our faculty and discovered that long before I came to Hawaii, one of the religious organizations in Hawaii wanted to sponsor a conference in association with the Department of Philosophy. At that time, however, the Department, having considered all the possibilities, refused the suggestion, because they felt it would be offensive to the other religious denominations. They want to be as neutral as possible. But that doesn't mean that they are opposed to the idea of having conferences; and, in fact, as you know, Hawaii was one of the first places to start the dialogue between the East and West, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Professor Charles Moore. There are some in my department, as in the religious studies program at Hawaii, who are opposed to it. But there are lots of people who are very enthusiastic about the conference. So I want to assure the members of the Unification Theological Seminary that, in principle, we are not opposed to it. We are faced with some practical problems, however.
Coming back to the area of discussion, I can only speak from the point of view of a student in Buddhist philosophy. I don't know much about the other religious traditions. I know a little about Western philosophy, but that's about all. But we have the same problems in Buddhism as everyone here is describing. I have been to most of the countries where Buddhism is and I myself come from a very conservative Theravada country. Buddhism represents one of the most pluralistic religions in the world. We have very extreme forms, leaving aside the original message of the Buddha. (I don't want to talk about it right now, because every time I say something about it, lots of people start shouting at me). In the country from which I come, which is predominantly Theravada, we have a very strong belief that salvation could come only through one's own effort. No grace from outside could help us to attain freedom or happiness. Now, as some of you know, the other extreme of the pole is to be found in places like Japan, where you have what is called "Pure Land" form of Buddhism. There, the efficacy of individual effort is completely denied, as I understand it, and reliance entirely upon the grace of the Buddha Amitabh is recognized. So you have two extremes within the same Buddhist tradition. And then, metaphysically, we have all kinds of wills. The Theravadans, on the one hand, accept a very realistic point of view with regard to nature and the world; and on the other hand, we have the extreme form of idealism, which is found in the Mahayana traditions; then there are what I may call very naturalistic traditions in Buddhist philosophy and, as well, opposite schools which recognize the extreme forms of transcendence. So we have all these different points of view, not only with regard to theory, but also with regard to practices. But still we all call ourselves Buddhists. What is it that makes all of us Buddhists? One purpose of this conference would be to probe into these questions and find out what kind of unity there is.
I have found there is some kind of fear attached to the search for unity, but I think that should not be the case. We are not surrendering our differences when we talk about unity. We want to find out what aspects can be compared. This is what we're doing at the University of Hawaii, Philosophy Department. People who are teaching Eastern philosophy at the University of Hawaii are not trying to convert the students of Western philosophy to Asian philosophy, nor do the Western philosophy teachers try to convert the Asian philosophy students to Western philosophy. But we are trying to see the points of similarity and points of difference as both important. I assume this is the primary aim of the Unification Theological Seminary when they started this idea. So I must say, as a Buddhist, I'm not opposed to this search for unity. We are of diverse opinions, but that doesn't mean, as Mr. Paul Sharkey pointed out, that we cannot have respect for one another. So what could really come out of the conference is, in the end, to see the similarities, in spite of the differences, so that each one of us could respect the other's point of view without being dogmatic.
I would like to refer to a "parliament of religions" which already exists there, right now, in my own country. It is not a conference. Millions of dollars are not spent on it. It is a place where all of the people of all religions get together; and when they get together, they express certain sentiments which would be very interesting for us to examine at some stage in our discussions. It is one of the most beautiful peaks in the country, and if you look at a map of Sri Lanka, you'll find the name given to it by the Britishers when they were there. It is called Adam's Peak. Now, every religionist in Ceylon refers somehow to Adam's Peak. We have almost all religions, and the people belong to all the different religions. We are predominantly a Buddhist country. We have Muslims, we have Christians of all denominations, and we have Hindus. Every year, during certain seasons, people from all these religions, pious devotees from all these religions, climb up this mountain. The Buddhists believe that the Buddha came and left his footprint there as he was leaving. I don't know much about Christian theology, but Christians consider it sacred because it is related to Adam. I don't know what that means, but it is called Adam's Peak. The Hindus think that one of their gods came and resided there for some time. And the Muslim people believe that Muhammad visited that place after leaving his footprint at Mecca; he also came to Sri Lanka and left his footprint there. There's a huge footprint carved in the rock; and all the religions go there and pay their respects to that footprint. Now, that's parliamentary religions in practice. But what I'm sure you want to do is to find out why these people are doing that, what is the basis of that belief. Is there anything common there? And I would like to say that this kind of conference, if organized properly, would also have, not only the other religions, but even divergent Buddhist traditions to see, to understand each other, and find a common ground of agreement. As far as I can see, in spite of all these differences among the Buddhists philosophically over what the dogma is, when it comes to selflessness and altruism, we are all one. So, I would like again to quote Paul Sharkey's comments: what you would want to find out is how we can respect each other and have self-respect in spite of our differences. I sincerely hope that it's going to be a success. Thank you.
Warren Lewis: Thank you. David told me about Adam's Peak when I was in Hawaii visiting and had dinner in his home. The religion of the "fictive footprint" is an appealing one, don't you agree, Lonnie? When David told me the story before, he emphasized that during the climb, nobody asks you in which theological system you are ascending and descending the mountain. Rather, they ask you if any of your kinfolk or friends fell off, either on the way up or on the way down; because it is a rather tortuous path, they care for one another. If there are people there who have to carry canes as they go, more able-bodied folk help them without asking whether they're going there to visit Adam or a Hindu god or the Buddha or Muhammad. I think I shall become a devotee of the Religion of the Fictive Footprint; it's the new religion of the future. Now let's hear from James Deotis Roberts.
James Deotis Roberts: Warren asked me to speak directly to the question of what would be the contribution of the African religions to such a meeting. I think that would be a very important matter to discuss. I have been part of several world religions sessions. I've worked with the Temple of Understanding, which has met in several parts of the world in a project similar to this one. I never tire of reminding leadership that there are hundreds of millions of people in Africa who for thousands of years have had a deep spirituality. We cannot ignore African-Americans; because in the last decade and a half, we have been searching for our own roots very seriously in all fields of scholarship, including theology and phenomenology of religion. We have discovered, as Joseph Washington did when he stumbled on this in the early 60's in his book Black Religion, that Will Herberg's book on Protestant-Christian-Jew does not include the religious experience of Black Americans. Joseph Washington wrote a book to point out that omission. Even though his conclusions were not accepted by his colleagues and were severely criticized, we have had to deal with his discovery ever since. In the late '60's, we became very serious about this in the so-called Black Revolution; and recently Haley's Roots has certainly made the search for peoplehood and personhood to overcome the identity crisis on the part of Afro-Americans a popular concern. Now, what this means from an academic-religious point of view is that we have been in serious conversation with the African and, more recently, West-Indian scholars of African descent. We have also published in the journal which I edit at Howard, the Journal of Religious Thought, some of the findings of those discussions on religion between peoples of African descent.
I would like to say that I have discovered certain things in the area of epistemology, as well as the phenomenology of religions, which have certainly enriched my own understanding of religion. I had done work in Asian religions prior to this and have found many similarities between what I've discovered in African religions and what I discovered in the Asian religions, but which I did not find in my studies in classical Western religion and philosophy. I have broadened my experience and have discovered Africa. It has yielded enriching, fulfilling additions to other discoveries in the study of religions. The way of thinking which seems to be developing out of Africa is "soulful" thinking. Just as Black experience and culture is soul culture, Black religion is soul religion, and Black thinking, as Basil Davis from Trinidad says, is soulful thought. What this means is that we think with our whole being. There is no dichotomy between thought and life. It's a thought that participates, that comes out of one's involvement in one's living world. I had earlier discovered something like this in Pascal and his "reasons of the heart." I didn't know at that time why I was so moved by my study of Pascal, until I began to look into the African background of Black thought and experience. I realize a tremendous affinity between what I discovered in Pascalian thought, the thought of William James and some others who have a more perceptive or psychological approach, to thought. Then I look at Howard Thurman (who, by the way, is retired here in San Francisco),a great Black poet and mystic philosopher for many years. He has written a good deal of mysticism and religiosity out of the Black experience. I realized why I was so fascinated with my Black colleague, senior colleague, Howard Thurman. There was something in my own experience and the experience of my people in terms of their spirituality and whole heritage that somehow have me an affinity and real rapport with that Pascalian and Jamesian tradition in Western thought, and in Eastern thought, and now, of course, in the African component. I would call this holistic thinking; and it's not alien to Biblical thought, especially the Old Testament perspectives. There is a rich convergence here of religiosity and spirituality which is now being discovered, and I think the African contribution is very profound.
There was a meeting between the Black artists and African intellectuals in Paris. Some have prescribed some meeting there as developing this concept of "negritude" in West Africa, especially in French-speaking countries of West Africa, as a way of giving a kind of handle to an African way of thinking which has its own contribution to make to epistemology, philosophy, religious thought, and so forth. Some of you know about John Mbiti's work on time as a creative way of developing out of the African religions and philosophies a philosophical perspective and world view. The resources need to be mined. Any getting together now between philosophers and theologians should include the creative contribution of some of the great thinkers who are now emerging in Africa, people such as Idowu, and Mbiti, and many others; Luke, out of Sierra Leone and many others from different parts of Africa. Then, of course, there's an independent church movement which has a great deal to say about blending Christianity with the traditional religious experiences of tribal Africans. The last note I wanted to sound is about the extended family, the African way to communalism, socialism, Ujima, familyhood. This concept gives us the sense of togetherness which we lost because of what slavery did to us by taking babies from their mothers' breasts and separating husbands from wives and splitting the family; then the further blow to the family in the northward movement of Blacks from the rural South to the urban North, and finally all the tragedy we have experienced in the urban ghetto situation. We want to understand religion in a way that can bring the family, the primary institution, together to develop a strong sense of equalhood and to develop the quality of life. Religion is at the center of this, and as we look at the African religious experience, we find some rich material there that can be used. I think all religions can be enriched by African religion because of the holistic understanding of religion not as a one-hour, once-per-week reaffirmation of faith. It penetrates the whole of life, the whole community, the social and political order. This explains why Black ministers are instinctively involved in social-justice questions without raising the issue whether or not politics and religion mix. Our people are suffering, and our religion is such that it just forces us to gather up all of this and speak to the whole person and all of life.
Warren Lewis: Thank you, Dr. Roberts. I especially liked the very last thing you said. Those last 15 or 20 seconds really got it for me. You can talk about how hard the job is, but when you look at Black ministers, who have had to unify politics and religion, because if they didn't they would get lynched, then you know when the fires underneath you are hot enough, you can do it. The fire may not be the Holy Spirit every time; it may be the fire of persecution, but maybe there's no difference between those two fires at all. Just because a job is hard doesn't mean it can't be done.
The other thing you've reminded me to speak about, Dr. Roberts, is conferences. I love to go to a good conference; I love to hear a good paper read. But when I go to a situation where I can meet the person who reads the paper, that's a better situation. For example, when I travelled to Hawaii, I visited the Kalupahana home, played with the children, met David's wife, had supper with the family. You know, the Ceylonese are barbaric people; they eat with their hands! I had a marvelous time! Here was all this wonderful curry, and you dig into it with these four fingers instead of a spoon. You dip it up and use your thumb as a pusher. The secret to Ceylonese good manners is not to get grease above the palm, which is hard for a Westerner. In the midst of all that, we talked about Jesus and Buddha, while we shoveled Mrs. Kalupahana's delicious food into our gullets. That's different from listening to and criticizing a paper.
David and I have become friends and colleagues, and we are beginning to share at certain levels at which one cannot share if the personal bond has not been bound. Should anyone ever say anything ugly about Ceylonese Buddhists, they'll have me to contend with, if you understand what I'm getting at. David and I double-handedly can now hold the world together at that point. I would like to meet some of these Black people from Africa Dr. Roberts is talking about. How do they eat? Do they eat with their hands, too? And what do they eat? And whom or what would they talk about while I talk about Jesus? I'm talking about the unification of persons, not religions, and of my coming together with the living, representation of everything that stands behind that person on earth and in heaven. That's not something we do at the A. A. R., or at least it isn't very often done at conferences of that nature, where something else is the order of the day. The next person to speak is Richard Rubenstein.
Richard Rubenstein (Professor of Religion, Florida State University): I have encouraged Professor Lewis to initiate this project and to assemble people to discuss its viability and feasibility. That said, I will now turn to some questions that I have in my mind. I find on page 2 of this statement: "The world's religions can provide leadership for the new age." It follows that "international influence is now being exercised by the political and industrial segments of our society." Then this paragraph follows: "If world religions do not offer the required leadership, the inevitably resulting void is liable to be filled by militarists or reductionist materialism." As I reflected on the question of who will offer the required leadership and under what circumstances, it comes down to a question of who are the value-defining elites in our society. I think that by a conference or by a series of conferences, it is not possible to supplant a dominant value-defining elite with another value-defining elite. Value-defining elites gather power, even without their knowing it, until they come to a point at which their dominance overthrows the established order. I'm thinking just now of the conflict between the Puritan intellectuals at Cambridge University, who could not become a dominant value-defining elite in England and use the language of religion to assert their challenge to the established, value-defining elite. They succeeded, however, on the American Continent. That kind of thing was brewing; it wasn't the result of a conference, nor was it the result of some realization that power was slipping from one group. It worked its way silently until it had a real chance to express itself in a material and social context. The rise of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century is similar. These things happened when there was a congruence of intellectual and artistic, spiritual and material factors. Now, as this paper suggests, in the late-20th century, it's clear that the value-defining elite is the technocratic, administrative elite in business and politics. In the United States, it's perfectly clear that the technocratic, administrative elite is both business and politics. The shifting from one sphere to the other goes on quite comfortably and there's no problem within the arrangement.
Now, if that's the case, why, then, did I urge upon Professor Lewis that he and his colleagues work on this project? I would like to suggest that there is a power which religious elites do possess: it is the power to communicate symbols and to transform symbols. While this may be a modest power, it is a power; it is a power that ought not to be neglected. It is a power which I think has been amplified by the media. I'm not a Southerner, but I have become fascinated with the Deep South. For those who don't know it, I live 80 miles from Plains, Georgia, and I am aware of what has been called the "third Great Awakening" taking place in the United States. I refer to the tremendous rise of evangelical Christianity. Although I was identified in the middle sixties as one of the leaders of the "Death-of-God," I can say in defense of myself that I never said that religion was about to collapse. I questioned the credibility of certain formulations of the concept of God, although I certainly never questioned the credibility of the existence of God. It is because people misunderstood what my colleagues and I were saying in the mid-60's that they come to me now and ask, "If God is dead, why is it that we've got this third great awakening going in the United States?" Whether this or that concept of God is alive or dead, religion and religious expression is very much alive. The media, of course, focuses on this liveliness. I think what you're really talking about is either one or a series of media events. I'm conscious of the fact that this is a media event. I have spoken to representatives of television and the press at least a dozen times this week since I've come here in my capacity as a chairman of one of the ICUS sections. And, you know, to bring together 500 people from all over the world is a matter of public note; it is certainly no silent occurrence. What makes this a media event is the fact that the media pays attention to us. Similarly, when the Unification Church used the occasion of a lecture I gave on the Unification Church to begin their mission in Tallahassee and the local paper gave it an eight-column banner headline, all the way across the first page, what they did was to transform a rather ordinary and pedestrian lecture, which neither endorsed nor condemned the Unification Church, into a media event. That I wasn't hostile was, in itself, sensational to them. They transformed that very ordinary occasion into an event which involved everybody in Tallahassee. And then what happened is that Jim Fleming, resourcefully using our public access channel, which must be supplied by cable TV to the citizenry, is conducting an effective Unificationist mission that way. I would urge you not to underestimate the power of media events. The Sadat-Begin encounter was, and is, a media event; and it's perfectly obvious that it is a transformative media event. Look at what is happening politically right now, simply because these two men were seen together by hundreds of millions of people. We mustn't think in a linear fashion. When Nixon came back from China after being with Chou En-lai and Mao-tse Tung, everybody said, well, nothing's happened; there was no agreement. That's the old way of looking at things. Similarly, they said, nothing happened with Sadat and Begin, that there was no agreement. Again, that's the old way of looking at things. Media transforms at the same time that they report. I think that if we stage this media event, some significant things will happen.
It will require, where possible, cooperation of established leadership. I heartily concur with Doctor Malik, and I say this as a person who is truly persona non grata with the established leadership of my own religious community. Nevertheless, I would urge that we do everything possible to involve such leadership. I would also say that I'm doubtful that we are going to get it in any of the communities. But I think that if you can't get it, then you use what you have. If you can't have a world congress of representatives of established religions, then you have a world congress of representatives who come out of the established traditions and who speak on their own behalf.
Finally, I want to play the part of a college professor for a moment and object to one proposition which I think is specious, the notion that the purpose of religion is to make a better world. Yesterday we heard from one of America's most distinguished sociologists of religion as he, following Max Weber, discussed one of the characteristics of what he calls the historical religions and early modern religions: world rejection. One of the results of the phenomenon of world rejection is heightened sense of self. The reason why I object to the facile observation that the purpose of religion is to make a better world is that if we become platitudinists already, at this stage of the game, we're going to viscerate what we can do. Of all the platitudes I know, the one that can most easily be contested is the "purpose of religion is to make a better world." Now harken to me: I'm not saying that the purpose of religion is to make a worse world or that the purpose of religion is to legitimate established hierarchies of power which make for exploitation and misery. But I would urge you to be careful about the use of platitudes. In this connection, one last comment which comes out of my experience dealing with the press this weekend. One of the questions asked by a practical TV reporter was: "Did your sessions live up to your expectations?" I could tell this young woman expected me to gush. I said that some did, but some of them were so awful, I wanted to shriek. If we be precise and accurate about who we are and what we are doing, if we remain modest enough in our claims, we will get much further than if we become platitudinous and gushy either in our claims or in our aspirations. I urge us to go forward. It may very well be that there is a messianic element in the Unification Church, as there is in Christianity and Judaism, and we in this particular context may be part of a larger messianic plan. But we are at neither the heart nor the center of the fulfillment of this plan as yet. So I would urge modesty and an awareness of what we have going for us and what we do not have going for us. Thank you very much.
Warren Lewis: It would be platitudinous to say how much I agree with what Richard has said. Instead, I propose time for a coffee break.
[After a short intermission]
Let me say that you are treating our proposal in just the way I hoped you would. You have taken it seriously, but you realize that we don't take it seriously. By that I mean we're ready to toss it aside, if that seems to be the best thing to do. Nobody's ego is at stake, nobody's theology is on the line. It is a tool to bring about this conversation. We can sharpen it, break it, or trade with it for another, any time. I thank you for that and I want this kind of give and take to continue. If there is something of value here, we'll smelt it a bit and see what's left when we're through. Next, we're going to divide ourselves up into three groups and do some brainstorming. Brainstorming requires a very particular technique. During a brainstorming session you make whatever suggestions you please, but it has to be stated positively. This style of activity has demonstrated its effectiveness in terms of getting the creative juices flowing, because when you are not afraid somebody's going to shoot you down, then you feel free to bring out your most stupid idea, which, in the long run, of course, may prove to be the best idea offered. Before we brainstorm, Lonnie Kliever has synthesized a few heuristic questions he wants to ask to stimulate you during the brainstorming session.
Lonnie Kliever: I'd like to bring us back to the symbolic level before we go into our brainstorming groups. We area group in need of a metaphor for the unity we seek in this kind of congress. I appeal to you to return to the symbolic level to reconsider the metaphor. Metaphors and symbols, as Paul Ricoeur told us, are not escapes or covers of problems which should be seriously and rigorously debated and engaged in all their toughness. On the other side of the issue, he has taught us that symbols are food for thought. So before we go to our tables, I would give you food for thought. In fact, we have been given some "food" and that's what we have been arguing about, but without an agreement on the metaphor of the unity we seek. It's a pure accident that Ricoeur's notion of "food for thought" nicely coincides with my preference for Warren Lewis's metaphor of the stew, rather than Paul's suggested alternative of the symphony. This is the metaphor I want to underline again, not only because I'm a fellow Texan, and have an appreciation for stews more than symphonies, despite my long and arduous cultural treks out of West Texas. What's involved in a symphony, of course, are different instruments playing different parts, not all at the same time, blended harmoniously, beautifully, providentially, into a magnificent "feast" of sound. But that doesn't happen unless somebody has already written the score, and somebody already knows what part his is to play, and somebody is forceful and inspiring enough as a conductor to get all of these trumpets and cellos and bass fiddles and kettle drums together. Apart from that, what you have is the fascinating pre-symphonic warm-up, which is anything but a symphony. The pre-symphonic cacophony, when we each play our instrument with a virtuoso limbering up of our mouths or exercise of our fingers or arms, precedes the exercise to follow.
In our present situation, precisely what we lack is a score, what we lack is a director, unless we're prepared to absolutize the Great Conductor in the Sky, and the score that He has in mind to communicate in some way, apart from our effort, to us. I don't mean to be impious, or to poke fun, but simply to state what I see in the metaphor of the symphony. The stew metaphor seems more appropriate because it says, among other things, that the unity we seek and might achieve, is, in some sense, an accident -- an accident of what we put into it and how that gets together. No two stews are ever the same. What you put into it, how you stir it together, and what disastrous or serendipitous mistakes you make in mixing it up determine the unity, the product, the outcome, the eating of the thing. It's further worth noting that every stew was cooked for the first time once upon a time, without anyone's knowing what it was going to taste like ahead of time, without understanding how all of it was going to come together, and indeed, without knowing -- until you tried it -- whether it was worth attempting. The proof of every pudding is in the eating; if we judge ahead of time that this pudding is not worth cooking, we will be spared both the surprise of pleasure and the regret of disappointment in ever tasting what might have been. I would urge us, then, to stay with our West Texas prophet's metaphor of the stew, and recognize it for what it is: dangerous, promising, and uncooked; an unreciped, unrehearsed stew. Charles Lamb discovered how to roast a pig by burning his house down. (Laughter) We may burn down a few houses too, but in so doing, we may find that we don't have to do that every time subsequently and henceforth when we get together. What we need are some stewards to gather the ingredients, chefs to decide the proportions of how much of what goes in, and a pot big enough to contain the ingredients and keep them from boiling over. What we need is a recipe of an agenda which will cause us to interact with one another with the honesty and the abrasiveness that we've already seen happen this morning. We'll generate enough heat to cook something, maybe enough heat to enlighten something. For these reasons I propose that we go to our discussion groups thinking about a stew rather than humming a symphony.
Paul Sharkey: Perhaps I don't mean a symphony; but a stew, to me, is not alive; a musical happening is.
There is something common among musicians; it is a knowledge, perhaps of various degrees, but a knowledge and devotion to music. When we're talking about religion, we're talking in some sense about knowledge, and certainly about devotion.
One form of music that has risen in American culture is a form where there is no conductor, there is no score. We call it jazz. It's one of the things I have found out about by living in the South and recently moving to New Orleans. I think we don't really disagree. But I would like to focus on the living, the knowledge, and devotion with which both the musician and also the religious individual are involved.
Warren Lewis: I appreciate what you said, Paul. I do feel a little more comfortable with the idea of a jam session myself than with a pre-orchestrated symphony. I think that's what Lonnie's getting at. You know, Professor Kliever, I don't disagree with you, although you may have given me a touch of heartburn, a bit of indigestion! Now let's count off for the brainstorming groups.
Archie Bahm: I have something I'd like to say.
Warren Lewis: I'd rather you wait until after we've brainstormed. The discussion can continue then.
Archie Bahm: I have only a short comment, and besides, I have to leave.
Warren Lewis: If you have to leave, then say it. The first rule is, if you have to leave, you get to talk before you go.
Archie Bahm: The unity symbol, which is fundamental to our whole program and the Unification Seminary, I suggest, is both desirable and obsolete. Rather, we live interdependently; interdependence is the symbol. We need not a Unification Theological Seminary, but an Interdependence Theological Seminary; neither a lamb stew nor a symphony. The personality is something alive, something organic, one person comprises many parts, many functions, many potentialities, many values, peoples, knowledges, skills and efforts, all functioning together. This is the kind of unity we need, an organic personal unity where you have the whole and the parts living together; not just a stew, but interdependence is what I suggest. If I burn your heart, I'm sorry; I love you, but that's what I must say for now.
Warren Lewis: I'm glad you persevered, Prof. Bahm. Thank you. Now, we'll count off, starting here. One, two, three...
On the last page of the proposal, you will find a series of questions. Please disregard the first two questions: "Do we agree?" and "Do we think?" We've all been talking about both questions already. What you have to say on the following questions will reflect what you agree to or disagree about, and what you think. Please attack the next questions. How might a global congress or global stew or global symphony or global interdependence seminary best be orchestrated, cooked or concocted? How could it be cosponsored, and who ought the co-sponsors to be? How do we enlist the support and cooperation of the religions, academic institutions, and other bodies of cultural and religious interest around the world? How do we structure such an encounter? Who m do we ask next to do what? Are you willing to work with us? The heart of your contribution in this brainstorming session beats with the pulse of your own statement to yourself: "If this were my job, this is how I would go about doing it."
(An interlude follows as groups meet to brainstorm, approximately twenty minutes.)
Warren Lewis: Now we'll have a report from the first group.
Perry Cordill (Student, Unification Theological Seminary): The first question is, "How might a global congress be organized?" Some of the ideas were as follows: one is to request support from such organizations as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, or the National Council of Churches, etc., etc. Also, Dr. Rubenstein's idea of a religious elite is good -- to bring individuals of importance from different religions together through communication through our organization. We recognize a problem of how to reach people from Eastern religions. We've been talking about Western religions, but how are we to reach those from the East? Some suggest writing to several universities in the East. Also, there's a group called the International Association of Religious Freedom, which was organized after the 1893 conference of world religions.
Also, we suggest finding religious leaders who are willing to sponsor this; person-to-person communication with those individuals whom people know, who are willing to come to something like this...Excuse me Dr. Pyun, what did you mean?
Hae-Soo Pyun (Adjunct Professor of Oriental Philosophy, Unification Theological Seminary): I suggested we work through foreign embassies in Washington, D.C.
Perry Cordill: Thank you, Dr. Pyun.
How would a congress be co-sponsored? One suggestion is that action for developing the co-sponsorship may evolve as we search out individuals. We'll be learning and growing as we go. But the purpose is in the search itself; in other words, some kind of religious unity is reached in people coming together to find a practical, viable way to unite. Just the fact that people from Eastern and Western religions would be involved in developing a final purpose of that conference would be heading in the right direction. Finally, we suggest that a committee would be formed which would work with a combination of consensus and votes, used together as we develop the actions we are to take and what organization is to be developed. Thus we would have people working viably and practically together.
Lonnie Kliever: One important suggestion that came out was to pursue the notion of a steering committee, rather than cosponsorship: a steering committee made up of people representing all the parties of interest to the congress, but not to develop a cosponsorship of institutions and bodies as such. There are all kinds of political ends and vested interests that we're going to run into. Furthermore, it seems good to fund the steering committee independently rather than directly and officially, keeping it free from institutions, whether academic or ecclesiastical, and other groups, whether political or religious.
Perry Cordill: On how to contact various religions, one suggestion was to ask them. So communication is of the essence here. We must find address lists, so that we can mail out to as many people as possible, developing a tremendous mailing system. Also, we want to get in touch with faculties of seminaries and colleges, especially professors of comparative religion, to try to interest them first, and then, let them interest their colleagues in this kind of project. One address list could be developed from the Association of American Professors.
Next, how to structure such a meeting: The idea was advanced that perhaps representatives who are official spokespersons of a particular institutionalized religion might be even more viable than getting the top person of that religion. Official people have to take the stance which represents the kind of orthodoxy of their particular faith; they may not have so much ability to have give and take freely. Perhaps it is a good idea to work with secondary-echelon people of the religions, and then, through them, interesting the top people. Also, we were thinking of the urgency beyond just getting together and talking about religion and what's different in your religion and my religion, that we transcend that to some humanitarian goals, such as the urgency of the global situation, to evoke from the religions how the world is to survive.
Dr. Kliever further explored Dr. Rubenstein's idea about the place of religion in a technological world addressing itself to subjects such as world hunger, political forms, humanitarian efforts, disease, and ecosystems. We suggest to develop this conference on ways by which religion can answer the questions of the problems of the world.
Tom Walsh (Student, Unification Theological Seminary): Our discussion began with Dr. Malik, who reiterated some comments he made yesterday. He wanted to know if we are serious about this proposal or if this is a joke. Then he made a distinction between a "congress of the world religions" and a "world religious conference," saying he wasn't so positive about having anything to do with the latter. Next he suggested that we spend six months inquiring into the existing world religions to see if they're interested in participating in some way. We should not send letters to them, he said, but delegations. People don't respond to letters as well as they respond to people. He mentioned approximately 15 world religions. He said we need to go to the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and heads of ecumenically-oriented groups, such as the World Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Church, the Southern Baptist Church, the Methodists, and the chief of rabbis of the world. We would also want to send our delegation to the leaders in Iraq, to leaders of Buddhism and Hinduism, and to well-disposed Marxists. Dr. Bahm suggested further that we look into Theravada Buddhism and Jainism to complete the list. Dr. Boslooper mentioned the World Congress of Faiths in England, and Dr. Bahm named the World Fellowship of Faith and some other groups which have already initiated such plans. He mentioned Sri Aurobindo and the inter-religious city, Pondicherry, India. Then, Dr. Young Oon Kim urged Dr. Bahm to answer as to why previous efforts were ineffective. We agreed that this issue is an important one to think about. Then, Dr. William S. Minor reiterated that we should not alienate ourselves from efforts that are already being made, such as the American Academy of Religion. His final point was that he is impressed with some of the students at the Unification Seminary. He suggested that, perhaps at the next conference, there be a committee to say what's going on at the Seminary. Finally, Dr. Boslooper asked how we might relate to the other groups and how we could initiate some kind of rapport with them. Dr. Minor suggested that people like Mr. Warder and Mr. Wojcik act as delegates to the other conferences, for example the American Academy of Religion, which is meeting right here in San Francisco just after Christmas. Then Mrs. Stewart, dean of the Seminary, asked for suggestions as to who might co-sponsor the Congress; Dr. Minor volunteered to look into that.
Warren Lewis: Number three.
Paul Sharkey: The first issue raised was where to hold such a meeting. The East-West Center was suggested; someone else said it might not be a particularly appropriate place to hold a meeting on world religions, due to the Center's own particular concerns. Who would be involved in the conference was the next question. Being a philosopher, I was wondering how we would go about deciding whom, before we raise the meta-question of how we would decide who would decide who should be involved. The suggestion was made that we contact people in seminaries, people like Krister Stendahl, dean of the Divinity School at Harvard, who, whether or not they might participate themselves, would be particularly valuable in terms of their knowledge of religion and insight in selecting those individuals who would best participate and be sponsors.
The issue of sponsorship then arose. It was suggested that academic institutions which are state-supported could not be reasonably expected to be sponsors for what, to most of us, seemed obvious political, practical reasons. However, given the fact that the Unification Seminary has taken on this very admirable project, it was suggested that perhaps we should look to other theological seminaries which would bring a kind of respectability. Seminaries and universities -- not the Pope, or the Cardinals, or the Bishop of Canterbury -- are places where, as I see it, religion is made. I'm a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and I know that Catholicism is made there, not Rome. Eventually, it ends up in Rome. The heresy of the theological seminaries becomes the orthodoxy of the religion eventually; so, I think that we could look to these sorts of institutions who would be more willing to participate. Because of their own respectability within their traditions, they might be able to convince the Popes, the Bishops of Canterbury, and so forth, of the usefulness of this sort of thing.
We also raised an issue whether the conference should be devoted entirely or primarily to issues of theology; but I strongly suggest, just as we have enjoyed the unifying experience of last night's entertainment at this ICUS conference, that we include some kind of worship, or appreciation of the ways that each other worship. There are theological, philosophical, and emotional problems with such a thing, of course; so it was suggested that, at least, we could include the cultural, aesthetic dimension, the music, the ritual, the paraphernalia that go along with the religions. Whether or not one adopts the theology of another religion, one can't help but be impressed, as I was, by the Buddhist ceremonies I saw when I visited Thailand, or the celebration of a Mass. Not that we need to celebrate the liturgies, but we do want to share with each other the rich cultural and aesthetic aspects that go along with our religions.
The question was asked, what shall we call ourselves? Should we use the words "global religions?" What connotation is there in the plural use of "religions?" Should we stress, rather, the human spirit, using a Dickensian phrase such as "men of good will?" This would express the idea that the Congress may not be composed simply of individuals who identify themselves as religious, but also people who are of good will, who would be in spirit with this sort of enterprise, even though they do not identify themselves with any organized, institutionalized religion. I rather suspect that a lot of us feel religious but are not comfortable to express it in the context of existing religions. We just tough it out in the religion that we belong to, always unsatisfied. We need to include representatives of this kind as well as the church hierarchy; we have to have the leading edge at the theological, educational level. We also need to have not only people who identify themselves with specific religions, but people who are one in spirit with us but would not know how to categorize themselves. With respect to regional meetings, we want to hold a regional meeting in the Islamic world. Too little has been said about Islam and by Muslims yesterday and today. When we think in terms of religion, East and West, we tend to think of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West and the great traditions of the East: Buddhism, Hinduism, and so forth. But there is in Africa a wealth of localized religions, which are not global, but very proud to be what they are; and there is Islam, which has not received its proper recognition among us. I invite anyone from my committee to make any additional comments.
Warren Lewis: Now we are entering into the last 30 minutes of this meeting, the hardest part of all. Now, we make 30-second comments. React, respond, disagree -- anything goes. Say anything you want to say. I was a preacher for a good number of years and in a good number of churches. One of the most painful experiences of running a church is when you leave church after a good Sunday, thinking that everything has gone along swimmingly, only to return for Wednesday-night prayer meeting to discover that old Brother and Sister So-and-So have been mad as hops since Sunday. They just didn't tell you. So, I hope if anyone here is "mad," they'll say so.
Hank Thompson (Lecturer, Unification Theological Seminary): Your 30 seconds are up, Warren! (Laughter)
Warren Lewis: You got it, Hank. Archie, you're next.
Archie Bahm: Just one suggestion. It takes money to run a world congress. My suggestion is this: with all the petro-dollars in Muslim countries right now, it should be obvious that they would be included among the co-sponsors.
Morton Kaplan (Professor of Political Science and Chairman of Committee on International Religions, University of Chicago): I want to emphasize what Professor Rubenstein said about humility, because there has been a minor theme throughout the conference that disturbs me. I do think that good will, human spirit, call it what you will, infuses decent behavior and just solutions to problems. But you would think the churches ought to have saved the Jews during the Second World War. That's one example. Let's look at the World Council of Churches, let's look at the fundamentalist groupings in the U.S., let's look at what the clergy did during the Vietnam War; even where there is an immediate injustice of that scope, as in much of Latin America, where some of the priests are going around with Communists, they're responding to something real; but in their naivete, they will simply help to bring about a tyranny. I'm very alarmed by religious persons who, as religious persons, turn to practical problems. I would like us to stay away from that sort of thing.
Martin Choate (Director, Berkeley Area Interfaith Affairs Committee): I'm afraid I feel the exact opposite. One thing we do not need is another talky-talky convention. This is what the A. A. R. and the S. S. S. R. do. This was the death, really, of the ecumenical movement: the World Council of Churches tried to establish Christian unity; they got together, they talked about doctrinal differences and doctrinal similarities, and eventually it just got all bogged down. Dr. Bellah emphasized so strongly the affirmation we have on page two of this proposal and the idea that either we ought to provide leadership for the new age or somebody else will. It seems to me that the whole Congress should be oriented towards this. It's good to talk about our differences and similarities, it's good to share culturally and worshipfully; we should do all of this. But I think the purpose of the Congress and the thing that it should be oriented around are questions such as these (and these I've extrapolated out of the statement of principles that we've got here): What are the real material and spiritual problems of modern, civilized man? What do we have yet to learn that will help us come to terms with man's problems, that a religious tradition other than our own could teach us? What can we do individually or in our own religious groups, and what can we do together as a Congress of religions? I'm Martin Choate, president of Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, which is kind of a microcosm of this proposal, because it is a group that includes representatives from all the major world's religious traditions.
Kurt Johnson (Biologist, City University of New York; Committee member "National Council of Church and Social Action"): This is a practical remark. We've done two conferences on the Church and social action at Fordham and Georgetown. The group is predominantly Black. I just want to note here that our consciousness is predominantly White and somewhat Asian. I want to say that if we're going to have a conference or council that is successful in reaching Black-conscious religions, we'll have to do our homework and make special efforts. They will not come in by gravity, because there's a problem here that is economic and social. If we make a special effort, we'll get their participation; but I just want to make that very clear. I know it's true.
Hank Thompson: We don't need to exclude organized religions, and we don't need to exclude individual participation. We can have both or all. We don't want to exclude any people. A global concern is, by definition, inclusive. We can't compel an organized group to participate but we can certainly make it clear that they are welcome, in whatever form they wish, to participate. They can send an official representative or simply an unofficial kind of observer. We don't need to put down organized religion as being useless or out-of-date or anything like this. And, on the other hand, we can also extend our invitation as widely as possible in terms of the human spirit or the religious concern, whether a person does or does not belong to a specific, organized group.
Paul Sharkey: I'd like to support what Professor Thompson has just said. I've been working in my own little way in what is Catholic mission territory, Mississippi. They're discovering there that when the church hierarchy does find out what the laity has to say, they learn a great deal about the religion. I think it's absolutely essential that we have both kinds of people present. And I suspect it has been the case, at least in our experience there, that the hierarchy will learn something from the people who claim to belong to the traditions.
Warren Lewis: Historically speaking, that's what conciliarism finally got to before it was given the papal coup de grace.
Bill McClellan (Student, Unification Theological Seminary): I'd like to suggest that we don't need to choose between the practical orientation and the theological or theoretical orientation. Our subgroups could take off in their chosen direction but check in with each other and say, "How you doing' over there? Is it working, or isn't it?" In this way, different kinds of minds and orientations could learn from one another.
Warren Lewis: Lonnie Kliever and then Constantine Tsirpanlis, but first Therese.
Therese Stewart (Academic Dean, Unification Theological Seminary): I am interested in the brief interchange between Professor Kaplan and Mr. Choate. I wonder if we could ask Dr. Kaplan to comment just a little bit further. If he thinks we should not get into certain kinds of practical problems, what might he then see as the possible role or function of the group?
Morton Kaplan: I think there are a lot of things in our current society which are counterproductive on which we might be able to agree and maybe even learn something. For instance, the way children are educated in the school has a great deal to do with much of the bad we find happening in society. For instance, about 15 years ago, when little kids were throwing gasoline bottles at drunken derelicts in New York, the mother's response was, "What will my neighbors think?" not, "What did my kid do that was wrong?" Or, "Why, of course, my kid shouldn't have done it; but, after all, haven't we always told them that we ought to get rid of bums; why are the police bearing down so hard on us? I would rather go about the problems indirectly. I think that most religious people, except those who are really working deeply in it, don't understand most of these problems. Many use social activities to substitute for religion. I think the real difficulty is how to infuse the religious attitude into society, to get rid of the false individualism according to which we are atomized and separated from each other. This is the long-range aspect of a solution that religions genuinely can contribute, because it's really far more germane to their nature and to the abilities of the people who go into the priesthood.
Warren Lewis: Thank you, Dr. Kaplan. Lonnie and then Constantine.
Lonnie Kliever: The statement is a working document, as you've indicated. I would hope that at least four statements would be reworded or eliminated. Let me simply mention them without extended comment. On page one, I don't know why co-existence can't be the goal of this kind of congress, particularly if we understand co-existence as involving finding ways through consensus and compromise to living with our variety of conflicts, short of war. I'm amazed, and I've shared this with my friend Warren, that at the bottom of the page, no mention is made of the role that the religions have played and do play in fracturing the human family. There must be some acknowledgment in redress of that. On page two, there are some of us who are reductionists and materialists of a kind, but who are also religious and concerned about extending the human community of discourse and cooperation. We also feel very uncomfortable in the presence of militarists. I would rather see that statement reworded to talk about the political and economic forces unifying the world in a technological civilization and then raise the question, what does religion have to contribute, and what form it might take. Finally, on page five, I get uneasy when I read about sharing information on the techniques of propaganda against common ideological enemies, because I suspect I'm one of the enemies! (Laughter)
Warren Lewis: Excellent. Constantine, Stillson Judah, and then Dr. Minor.
Constantine Tsirpanlis: I am Professor of Church History, Orthodox Theology, and ecumenical Christianity at the Unification Seminary. I am remembering right now the initial remark of Archbishop Germanos, when the World Council of Churches opened its first Session in 1910. At that time, all the people were thoroughly divided and deeply pessimistic about the purpose and the results of the World Council of Churches' ecumenical movement. They almost left the 1910 meeting with the conviction that no other meeting would take place after 1910. But we see today that the World Council of Churches or the ecumenical movement is so flourishing that, to a certain extent, it is also decaying and going down. The remark was, at that time, by Archbishop Germanos, the Archbishop of Thyatira in England of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and he said, "One great thing which cannot be forgotten by those who study ecumenical Christianity and the World Council of Churches is, although mind may divide us, heart unites us." The ecumenical brotherhood which has decayed is not a new thing. It is the Stoic concept of universal brotherhood. I was disappointed by this discussion; no one pointed out the failure of the historic concept of universal brotherhood. Why did it fail? Because the universal brotherhood of Stoicism was based solely and only on reason. It was not based on heart. Now, I think that what we need desperately in our days and in our time is perhaps a reconciliation and harmony of reason and heart. Up to this point in time, I cannot see any movement which achieved this harmony and reconciliation between reason and heart, or reason and faith. Religion is not an abstract idea. It is a personal involvement and conviction. But religion is not something which must be in a museum, which is exactly the contemporary situation. It is a museum piece, a museum relic! What we need is to apply religion to socio-political, as well as to economic, contemporary needs and situations. From my point of view, this harmony and the reconciliation between reason and heart will be a distinguishing characteristic of this global forum for world religions. Perhaps I am mistaken. I'm not dogmatic, but this is my deepest conviction, and I share this conviction with several representatives at this conference. I was so happy that several representatives, at least, felt the same need and the same deep nostalgia for this reconciliation and harmonious cooperation between reason and heart.
Warren Lewis: I recognize Stilson, then Dr. Minor, and then... Archie, if you're leaving to go get a hamburger, we'll have food here...But of course! Archie's leaving to catch a plane, not a hamburger. Goodbye!
Stillson Judah (Professor of Religious History, Graduate Theological Union): I am very much impressed with this whole idea, and also with the ideas that Dr. Bellah expressed yesterday. I agree with the particular stress which Mr. Choate placed on the need for a congress of religions which is not going to duplicate the type of things being done by other, different associations. Actually, I hope it will be an application of religion to the great and important problems of the world. I study and work with the youth-religions of America; one of the reasons why we have these youth-religions in America is that the Christian churches themselves -- of which I also am a member -- are not doing the job that the youth of America are doing or are trying to do. I see people in the Hare Krishna movement now trying to unite all the youth of America, to establish what they feel are the new-age ideals for America -- a new religious consciousness, a new way of looking at things; they are trying to solve some of the problems in the world. I see the same thing also in the case of the Unification Church; right here in this area, they are solving the food problem in this particular area, distributing 30 tons of food a week. This is important; there isn't a single traditional church in this area doing this job. I think that practical application of religion is very important. This must come, then, not from delegates of the churches, but must come from religiously-committed people in all the various religions, including all of the so-called cults.
William Minor (Director, Foundation for Creative Philosophy, Carbondale, Illinois): I would just like to reinforce what Dr. Kaplan has said about attitude. An attitude, as we well know, is a predisposition to action. It triggers action. And unless we have the religious attitude, we don't get the kind of action which is really basic to religious living. The action comes out where we find the religious attitude. I find the attitude in these young people whom I have met here in this conference. They have it; and if we can get the freshness of their spirit in the religious attitude that's genuine, that triggers action, then, I think we need not worry about consequences.
Warren Lewis: Thank you, Dr. Minor. Two more, after that.
Michael Herbers (Student, Unification Theological Seminary): I would like to bring it back to religion again. We've oftentimes been speaking in philosophical terms; but I am thinking that, since we are going to approach other religions, we ought to consider the touchstones, the basic things, of reaching out to other religions. I have studied the Faith and Order Movement and the Life and Works struggle of the last 60 years. We obviously have a long way to go both in terms of doctrinal unity (if that were our course) and in practical cooperation; but I am thinking of certain basic points, such as the affirmation that there is a God, that God does exist (for the West anyway) and at least the affirmation (in the East) that there is some deeper aspect to man than just a material, chemical, physical being, call it the recognition or striving for "ultimate meaning" or "value" perhaps. Secondly, if we accept the notion that God (or ultimate ground of meaning, etc.) does in fact exist, not just as a useful, ethical point of view, the next thing is to allow that all the world's religions are in fact legitimate and so inspired by God; or, we can say each religion has at its origin and continues in its core -- in its gut -- a real religious (spiritual) experience. It's not just Christianity, but all religions are inspired according to the need. Thirdly, the idea of progressive revelation: that revelation did not stop 4000 years ago with Moses, or 2500 years ago with Buddha, or 2000 years ago with Jesus, or 400 years ago with Luther and Calvin. I think if we have basic points like these, then we can recognize that all religions have legitimacy and can begin to come together without bickering and doctrinal rankling. This also opens up the idea that indeed today we do need a fresh look, and not just tradition. The point about leadership on page two is vital. We ourselves have to begin to project a certain attitude -- as Dr. Minor just said -- a certain moral responsibility, if we're to talk about religious action. Perhaps points similar to these three can be a basis to tap the legitimacy of each religion's motivation to offer such cooperative leadership for our troubled world. Thank you.
Nathan Ballou: My name is Nathan Ballou. I'm out of my field, but I would just like to make a brief remark. It seems to me a focus of such an activity needs to be what the ideals are of people over the earth: what they hope, what they want out of life, what their relationships with humanity are, and with their God. Therefore, the question of ideals is central. Secondly, there is the question whether or not the objectives, the movement, the conference are to be all-inclusive? Toward this purpose, as I mentioned in our own particular [ICUS] session, I think that we need to consider the human spirit, rather than restricting it more to religion. This means, I emphasize, not that we are excluding religion. Religion is a part, a major, important, extremely important part; but the human spirit is something that people can respond to over the earth, whether or not they are affiliated with a religion. We need to proceed in such a way as to capture the popular imagination by what we are doing, so that there is real body and substance and motion toward what might be accomplished.
Warren Lewis: I'll add another thirty seconds worth, and bring this part to an end. I'm out of my role as moderator, just adding my 30 seconds' worth. We absolutely have to make clear from beginning to end that the religionists are as evil as the technologists, that the atheists are as holy as the theists, that the Marxists are as welcome as the shamans. This is a human enterprise in the name of reality perceived religiously, whatever the sociological and psychological forms are into which you pour that religiosity. I want nobody to say who else is to be there or not be there. I want people to be there because they feel they have a right to be there. The credentials are in the people who come, not in the hosts who do the inviting.
This is the end of the 30-second session. I'm in my role as moderator again. Lunch is now to be served; everyone in this room is welcome to eat. There are many kinds of unity and unification, and the one we all know about is the one where we sit together at the same table and eat. That's the one I enjoy best. There's another kind of unity -- the kind where you sweat together; and we've certainly attained that today. When you work hard on a common project, even on different sides of it, and from different perspectives, sometimes carrying different weight, even though one person may have the lighter end and another person the heavier end, still you're together because you have sweat together. My father taught me that on our Texas ranch. Now, I wish I could come forth with something uplifting and inspirational to say at the end, because that's what a preacher is supposed to do; but, for the life of me, I cannot. Let me just stay practical then. Looks like the ball is in our court, at Unification Seminary, in terms of the nuts and bolts of the thing. We will prepare a transcript of the proceedings, we will edit it somewhat, for the sake of keeping it manageable in terms of the length. If you want a copy, I hope you've signed your name and given us your address. I reassure you that your name will not be used in any kind of legitimating, political way as a result of your participation in this conference, although we do intend to send you a list of the names of the participants. I'm not sure what the next step is, myself, and certainly not sure what the next giant step needs to be. The next baby step is to make sure that everyone among ourselves knows what we did here. We have documents we can work on, and we can continue to communicate with one another. Certainly, among the next steps are that we act upon the concrete proposals made here by you; and I think that is what Unification Seminary will do. But, of course, we have to talk it over with the Reverend Moon first. What can I do but thank you and say, let's eat.