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Imagine for a moment that you are in a huge hall with a very large oval table in the center of it with plush chairs all around.  You might think that this is a meeting of the G7 or a symposium on some weighty matter facing mankind.  You would not be far wrong.

Various well-known celebrities begin to enter the room and take their places at the table.  Representatives from all the major religions are there – Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, Confucianism, from the East and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, from the West (although nowadays pluralism has made such east-west distinctions obsolete to a degree).  Each one of them has an important place at the table with their attendants and advisers in close proximity.

Finally, a wave of security breaks through the main doors and a phalanx of advisors, philosophers and scientists come in followed by the representative of Secular Humanism.  He has been given the dubious honor of being the moderator of the assembly.

Outside are protestors with their placards promoting their particular take on the proceedings.  “Down with religion.”  “Religion is Evil. God is Good.”  “All you need is Love”  and, of course, “Tolerance is the Highest Religion.”  In the background, as you look out the window, you can see various groups under the trees standing in circles, holding hands.  Some of them are singing and some appear to be praying.

What is all this?

This is a special emergency meeting called by the United Nations to resolve the world’s religious differences and put an end to war and terrorism and intolerance.  Imagine that the world has deteriorated into endless bickering and there is a serious clash of orthodoxies with each side becoming more entrenched in their view of the world.  The differences are striking and conflictive.  Religious differences can no longer be contained, they are overflowing into politics and racial discrimination, and the world is no longer (or never was) safe or at peace.

Well, maybe you don’t have to “imagine” it.  It has the ring of reality to it as it stands.

In any event, this is a discussion that has taken place in various forms throughout the history of man.  The clash of orthodoxies is a constant reality and a very real threat.  Terrorism fuels hatred and religious and racial discrimination.  Immigration reform and the modern development of a worldwide pluralistic society are on the table for serious discussion.

Suffice it to say that a person’s view of the world, their interpretation of good and evil, their values, beliefs and needs will affect how the discussion will go.

It is to these questions that this group of people must now turn.


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Truth in Flip Flops by Bert A. Amsing
Excerpt from Tears of the Desert Warrior by Bert A. Amsing
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