Readers may think I've been overly harsh in Islam, railing at its inconsistencies and false premises. I was perplexed by the Vatican's overtures to Muslim leaders, who cannot and will not discuss matters of faith in a cogent fashion since their "revelation" is at odds with the other "peoples of the Book." Thus, I was gratified to read this, in which the Pope responded to the announcement of a forthcoming book from an Italian, Marcello Pera:
[The pope] said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”
Now cultural dialogue is different than religious dialogue, and there are various things that people of faith can share in opposition to a doggedly secular culture. In fact, if you think yeast or the organic nature of authentic living, there is no "culture" in a world without the spiritual realm. NYT isn't the mouthpiece of B16, to be sure, but this sheds a little light on what exactly Benedict may be thinking in visiting mosques and exchanging gifts with imams.