Paths and pitfalls of interreligous understanding
The 2007 Salzburg Trilogue is the first Trilogue to take place in collaboration with the Salzburg Festival, whose motto this year is “The Nocturnal Side of Reason.” The opening event in this year’s Trilogue will be a panel discussion in the main university auditorium on August 12 at 4:00 p.m. on the topic “Reason is God’s scale on earth,” based on a quotation from the Islamic theologian and philosopher Mohammad al-Ghazzālī (1058-1111). Moderated by Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, participants - - who will include conductor Daniel Barenboim, Indian statesman and philosopher Dr. Karan Singh among others - - will discuss the human dimension of the conflict in the Middle East and the significance of faith, reason and secularization in the 21st century. On the August 13, a roundtable discussion will be held in the Residenz palace on the topic “Paths and pitfalls of interreligious understanding.”
Although many of the world’s religions emphasize ideas of justice, charity, love and peace, numerous attempts at engaging in interfaith dialogue and at achieving a global ethos have proven unfruitful. Public perceptions both in Europe and beyond are characterized instead by mutually exclusive claims to “knowing the truth” and by the limits of interreligious understanding. Reports on the global resurgence of religious faith, the increase in conflicts driven by power politics or territorial claims as a result of cultural zeal, and, above all, the perpetration of terrorist acts in the name of religion now predominate in the media. In the world of the 21st century, reason and belief are sliding increasingly out of balance. The need for a critical reexamination of the paths and pitfalls of interreligious understanding has therefore become all the more pressing. Questions to be addressed at the event include:
-- What are the key problems impacting interfaith understanding at the beginning of the 21st century?
-- Can reason and the experience that derives from the Enlightenment and secular life provide common ground for people of different beliefs, or are they necessarily an impediment keeping them apart?
-- Can possibilities for cross-religious cooperation be developed, or are hopes that tolerance and reconciliation might transcend religious boundaries simply unrealistic?
This year’s Salzburg Trilogue is dedicated to examining these issues. Bringing together representatives of monotheistic religions as well as adherents of Buddhism and Hinduism, it is designed to provide a venue allowing business, political and cultural leaders to engage with each other and identify forward-looking solutions. The impetus for this year’s topic is the appearance of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival, a group that, through its musical activities, offers a vision of peaceful coexistence among the world’s young people and of cultural bridges across ethnic, political and religious divides.
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