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Regarding the Nov. 11 article “Ozawa lashes out with scathing remarks on Christianity“: Democratic Party of Japan secretary general Ichiro Ozawa’s public admiration for the “inclusiveness” of Buddhism provides a wonderful opportunity to open a series of dialogues in Japan among scholars of comparative religion and culture. Indeed Japan, as one of the great repositories of Buddhist philosophy and ethics, could, and should, lead the world in promoting just such dialogues.

Informed and mutually respectful dialogues about the great global religious and cultural traditions are vital if we are to avoid the late Samuel Huntington’s terrible prophecy of an imminent global “clash of civilizations.”

As one with affinities to the Christian tradition, I agree with Ozawa that institutionalized forms of Christianity are all too frequently exclusionary. There is plenty of evidence, too, that the institutionalizations of the other great religions are equally at fault. None live up to the ideals of unconditional love, compassion and peace advocated by all their founders alike.

Productive “civilization” dialogues may occur only if we all acknowledge the profound wisdom that each religion struggles to articulate in the face of modern humanity’s limited understandings of the unfathomable cosmos that we inhabit.

allan patience

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