The "World Game" of Ecumenical Dialogue
Eureka Street, a public affairs/arts/theology publication written "from an inclusively catholic perspective" (small "c" theirs) and sponsored by the Austrailian Jesuit community, has an article on the recent meeting of the Standing Commission of Faith and Order (the theological arm of the World Council of Churches) that addressed future directions for discussion. Perhaps because the meetings coincided with the FIFA World Cup, author Richard Treloar saw some fascinating parallels between ecumenical dialogue and game playing. Some quotes of note:
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: ‘I know of no other method of dealing with great tasks but play.’ The FIFA World Cup is an intrusion of the carnivalesque into ‘realpolitik’ – a moment every four years when the nations devote themselves quite deliberately to the serious business of being playful. The rules of the game become the grammar of discourse; whilst boundaries are not erased, they are experienced differently, tested, and sometimes redrawn; and there is a certain suspension of disbelief that things could ever actually be this way for more than ninety minutes at a time.Read the whole article here.
Ecumenical dialogue – an ecclesial carnival rather than a contest – might usefully see itself as making just such a contribution to the great task of proclaiming the theologically essential, if historically incomplete, oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ that the world may believe. Not so much, I would venture, that the world may believe in Jesus Christ, as would believe that the churches can model more creative ways of living with difference than they, or ‘it’ have managed to date.