University of Winchester

ABSTRACTS /Dr Brian Walker


The Diagenetic Paradigm: From inter-faith dialogue to creative action

Building upon personal experience of inter-faith dialogue in the UK, Europe and Africa, the paper is a practical-theological exploration of the dynamic that transforms the parallel inter-faith words, that Bassett calls pre-dialogue, into diallel social action. The dynamic is an ongoing cycle of understanding, sharing, reflection, transformation, discussion and action that creates hope and delivers social change, for the vulnerable, the oppressed, and those of faith involved in the six simple, and yet profound, steps of the diagenetic paradigm.
This paper contexts the century of inter-faith dialogue that culminated with Swidler and Mojzes offering a seven-stage model of ‘Deep-Dialogue’. This ranges from ‘radical encountering of difference’ to ‘personal and global transforming of life and behaviour’. What they fail to explain is why their practical theology has not become a significant reality.

During 2005, Race, Rao and Kenny, sensing a ‘sea change’, invited a dialogue on fresh models of ‘living positively with religious difference’. Initial responses included contributions from King, Yoshida, Hick, Pedersen and Walker. Walker’s ‘Diagenetic Paradigm’ became a focus of dialogue throughout the year, as an empirically based model inspired by the reality of inter-faith social action in the world’s poorest country, Sierra Leone.

This paper, however, continues the exploration of work for social justice, facilitated by Religions for Peace, the largest coalition of representatives from the world’s great faiths, working together for peace. With the continuing experience of over 50 national chapters, including some in the most troubled regions on earth: Iraq, Israel, Sudan, Rwanda, Congo… the discuss here considers emerging inter-faith movements in some of the ‘new’ European countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Finally, there will be opportunity for engagement on how this paradigm reaches beneath the model of ‘Deep-Dialogue’ to generate the metanoia necessary for inter-faith dialogue to become action for social change.

Biographical Statement

Dr. Brian Walker is Chair of Religions for Peace (UK). He is also an Executive Member of the World Congress of Faiths.

 

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