RESPECT FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S GODS


A few days ago Dalai Lama twittered the following words of wisdom:  

“Perhaps the most significant obstruction to inter-religious harmony is a lack of appreciation of the value of others’ faith traditions.”  

I guess religious aggressiveness is not really new. Think of the colony-powers bringing missionaries to their new territories, the Crusaders, the Conquistadores in Latin-America, the Muslims invading the Iberian peninsula, the “reconquista” in the name of the Spanish nation, but also with a religious overtone. When Norway was “Christianized”, the religion became a political tool, as the new power used the new religion as a symbol for the new times.  

Nevertheless, there are a bunch of examples of people co-existing with other tribes or nations, or being neighbours to other people who asked for the protection of different Gods, and that not constituting any problem or source to conflict or power-struggle.  

Borgund stavkirke

Borgund stavkirke, 1000-years old wooden church, where Vikings mixed norse-traditions with worship of the Christian God

 

F.ex. the Vikings, who asked for protection from the Norse Gods, did not usually force their conquered people to revere the Viking Gods. Rather, the Vikings often adopted the Gods of the places they came to.  

Likewise, a similar situation existed among and with people ,more or less rivals ,on the Iberian Peninsula: Phoenicians, Celtic Gods, Roman Gods… And later on in history, religious co-existence became evident also on a more “modern level. Toledo, once the capital of Spain, was the home of Jews, Muslims and Christians, all living together for a long time in a peaceful co-existence. And this phenomenon was also seen in the city of Alcalá de Henares, historic power centre in Spain and base to the strongman Cardinal Cisneros.  

Calle de Toledo

Toledo, previous capital of Spain, home to Jews, Muslims and Christians

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