In reading the last post as well as one of the comments, I guess I should clarify –
I am not interested in interfaith dialogue as an institutional concept and I don’t believe the Orthodox infrastructure or the Reform infrastructure really are either, except as posturing.
I personally am interested in learning about other faiths and their ideas and have spent lots of time doing that in various ways and with various people and think many other people are interested in doing that – it is not a function of sectarianism as much as personality and inquisitiveness and areas of interest. I like to think I’m not particularly close minded, but as one commenter suggested – I am utterly subjective in my approach to it and constantly measuring what I hear against what I believe – I’m not some objective blank canvas. To me, open-mindedness in any human being is understanding that and not conflating “belief” with “knowledge.”
I reject the idea of interfaith dialogue because I presume true dialogue in such matters implies an active interest in being changed in some way by what the “other” intends to communicate. Otherwise you are talking to hear yourself, not them.
I guess I believe it is possible to dialogue only in inverse proportion to how deeply you identify with your position and how deeply you define your “self” by your position. I care a great deal about politics and can dialogue about it all day long – but it is not who I “am.”
I do believe we should have other forms of dialogue – as Americans, as members of Western Civilization, etc. Those all are affinity groups which are powerful for me – I love America and am deeply pained by the decline of Western Civilization, but they are not the essential “me.”
Anyway – I am not at all arguing against the vital human element of connecting in serious empathetic communication – but I think that was how it was taken.