Editorial In Asia and elsewhere, tensions are growing today between different religious communities: rise of radicalist/fundamentalist movements; increasing violence, armed conflicts and terrorism that are allegedly religiously inspired; controversial legislations and their enforcement targeting certain religions; persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities, etc. These signs and cause of tension, which have become a part of the day-to-day reality in our societies, particularly in Asia, cast shadow on the history as well as the hope for harmonious coexistence of religions.Thus the significance of interreligious dialogue has widely been recognized, and its practice zealously promoted, even beyond academic world. However, its scope, mode, goals and even the very definition have not always been clear, and have at times been the object of controversy themselves. For example, it has been pointed out that interreligious dialogue does not only include formal discussions about differences and similarities in religious dogma. It also includes various kinds of communication and cooperation between people from different religious communities.  Thus, a dialogue of practices may, for instance, struggle to find ways for different religious communities to address common social problems.Theologians and scholars of religion today are therefore challenged not only to respond to the unfolding situation, but also to keep examining the ways in which they frame, analyze, envision and practice interreligious dialogue.The present issue thus intends to critically consider approaches and/or modes of the interreligious dialogue, so as to anchor theories and practice of dialogue on firmer and more relevant ground.The Viewpoints article in this issue, gThe Monastic Expression of Interreligious Dialogue,h by William Skudlarek, OSB explains the nature and history of dialogue involving contemplatives of different religious traditions. Skudlarek does so with a specific focus on the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, which is a Roman Catholic initiative encompassing dialogue with Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and other spiritual practitioners, and of which he is a part.In the first main article in this issue, gBack to the Rough Grounds: Interreligious Dialogue Beyond the Classical Paradigms,h Daniel F. Pilario, CM advocates an alternative approach to interreligious dialogue. After reviewing the three classical paradigms (exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism) as well as some recent attempts (by J. Dupuis and F. Wilfred) to surpass them, Pilario argues that religious discourses should be brought back to the grough groundsh of local, grass-roots communities where interreligious dialogue unfolds in the very life of people in their day-to-day struggle for peace and survival. Bernard Adeney-Risakotta, in his gIslam, Culture and Dialogue: Differing Muslim Perspectives on Cultural Diversity,h maintains that understanding of culture is crucial in framing interreligious dialogue particularly from an Indonesian point of view, as sharing in a common culture was a key to reconciliation for the religious strife in Indonesia. Thus the author examines five different models of Muslimsf attitude toward culture, creatively employing the Christ-culture typology developed by H. R. Niebuhr.gBeing Church in Asia is Being in Dialogueh by Subhash Anand is a call to understand dialogue as an essential characteristic of the mission and identity of the Church of Christ. While describing how dialogue is demanded by our humanity and faith in the triune God, Anand raised delicate questions such as whether the Church, if it is to truly be a Church-in-dialogue, should insist on converting and baptizing others, or reserving Eucharistic fellowship to the baptized alone.Taking gestablishing a harmonious societyh as a focus or goal of dialogue may facilitate interreligious relations, suggests Lai Pan-chiu, in his gInterreligious Dialogue, Harmonious Society and the Kingdom of God.h While remaining critical of governmental propaganda on gharmonious society,h Lai analyzes the ways the Kingdom of God is conceived by various theologians including T. Richard, P. Tillich and P. Knitter, and points out that focusing on the Kingdom may promote not only mutual enrichment, but also realization of harmonious society.This issuefs book reviews are: Harvesting from the Asian Soil: Towards an Asian Theology, edited by Vimal Tirimanna, CSSR (reviewed by Agnes Brazal) and Towards an Ethical Framework for Poverty Reduction by Charles Irudayam (reviewed by Soosai Arokiasamy, SJ).

Kiyoshi Seko


January, 2012