I’ve been thinking lately about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s speech at the Fano ecumenical church conference and his insistence that ecumenism could help stave off the war he saw coming. As it turns out, Bonhoeffer was right about the war. Even if the ecumenical efforts of the Christians could could not keep a predominantly Christian Western Europe from waging all-out war on each other for a second time in a half century, I think Bonhoeffer was right about ecumenism as well. Their efforts were an example of what it means to be faithful in the face of war.
So how can we get Christians, Muslims, and Jews to stop killing one another, and what role can faith leaders play in order to increase our chances for peace? I think the Ecumenical Council at Fano is a good example of the kind of dialogue that needs to happen. However, this time it will be much more difficult because the conversation must take place not among Christians, but between Christians, Muslims, and Jews – the three major monotheistic, and Abrahamic religions.
That’s a tougher sell.
Nevertheless, I think conversation among the religious leaders of these three groups needs to become more commonplace. I have zero friends among the clergy of those other Abrahamic religions. This is because I have not pursued friendship. It’s my own fault. I’m not saying we need to start a movement or hold a conference, we simply need to start a friendship. Just get to know each other. Learn to understand one another better.
No doubt church leaders on all sides of this will risk much for this dialogue to take place. Sharp criticism from their own fellowship, congregations, mosques, and synagogues should be expected. Any move toward ecumenical dialogue will draw fire. I think this makes Bonhoeffer’s remarks at the Fano conference even more powerful in our day:
“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture, and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to mistrust, and this mistrust in turn brings forth war. To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying down the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ecumenical Conference at Fano, 1934.
Ecumenical dialogue may not be a popular thing, but the alternative is the above Colbert / Carell option. Hilarious as it is this still doesn’t provide a solution. And silly as it is, can we at least admit to ourselves that this video is much closer to reality than any of us would like?
Nevertheless, it is our Friday Funny – because if we can’t always do the right thing (and we can’t, you know…), than we can at least laugh at ourselves while we try to get it together! I really wish I would have taken the time to watch The Daily Show a little bit more from 1999 to 2005 when these two guys were correspondents at the same time.