Intervital dialogues

Most humans, perhaps even all, are looking for the meaning of their lives in the world, especially in situations of crisis and transition. Sometimes their cultural, for example religious heritage is helpful, sometimes not. If not, they reject the defaults of their matrix, adapt to it reluctantly or begin to work on the transformation of their matrix. There is hardly anybody who lives exactly according to the written doctrines of his or her respective tradition. Women, more than others, have to provide their own answers as there’s no progress to be made with the patriarchal prejudices of nearly all traditional religions and worldviews. To enable post-patriarchal orientations, conversations between humans of different origins are necessary and inspiring. Instead of referring to these conversations with the traditional labels „intercultural” or „interreligious,” we prefer the term „intervital” dialogues because it does not start with the „higher spheres” of dogmatic systems but with questions that arise in daily life (Latin vita means „life”). The current interreligious or intercultural dialogues, by contrast, are mostly conceived as „expert talks” and rarely touch actual questions of meaning.

Intervital dialogues are experimental dialogues which create post-patriarchal meaning, based on real questions of how to understand and shape life. In intervital dialogues it is not the demarcation of closed doctrinal systems that is at stake. Rather, new ideas are developed, traditions are questioned as to how far they are able to shape, liberate, and transform daily lives: Which fragments and pieces of official doctrinal systems are able to help people live through concrete situations? How can I breathe new life into the wisdom of my ancestors without excluding my current neighbours? Which words and gestures match our needs and experiences? Should we create new ones?

Many interreligious dialogues led by women today reflect this intervital, ultimately peace-driven interest: their starting points are the relationships and common experiences in communities of learning and talking. The engine of these conversations is the wish to positively shape common life and to question to what extent one’s own respective religion and spirituality is helpful or not. The practice of intervital dialogues is a practice of transcendence, of dissolving established religious or cultural limitations—for example in trans-religious spirituality or the experience that difference and equality can coexist.

Experts of traditional „resources of meaning,”—for example theologians or cultural scholars—can play an important role in intervital dialogues, albeit not as „representatives” but as midwives, skillfully and deftly accompanying the birth of post-patriarchal meaning.

Kune Biezeveld, Anne-Claire Mulder (eds.), Towards a Different Transcendence. Feminist Findings on Subjectivity, Religion and Values, Bern 2001

Verena Naegeli, Josée Ngalula, Ina Praetorius, Brigitte Rabarijaona (eds.), There is Something We Long For – Nous avons un désir, Kinshasa 2015

Ina Praetorius, Religion: Respect for One An Other, in: Feminist Theology 32(3)/2015, 254-268

Anne-Claire Mulder, An Ethics of the In-Between: Condition of Possibility of Being and Living Together, In: Pamela Sue Anderson (ed), New Topics in Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Contestations and Transcendence Incarnated, Dordrecht, New York, London, 2010, p. 297-318.

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