All religions are experiencing rapid changes due to a confluence of social and economic global forces. The modern world threatens the foundations of the world's religions and the cohesive assurances of their societies. Factors such as the pervasive intrusion of globalizing political and economic developments; polarized and morally equivalent presentations seen in the media; the sense of surety demanded in and promised by a culture dominated by science are but some of the factors that have placed extreme pressure on all religious traditions. This has stimulated unprecedented responses by religious groups, ranging from fundamentalism to the syncretistic search for meaning.
The totality of pressures and responses is pushing religious people into controversial forms. As religion takes on new forms, balances between individual and community are disrupted and reconfigured. Religions often lose the capacity to recall their ultimate purpose or to lead their adherents towards it. This is why we call this complex situation "the crisis of the holy." This crisis is a confluence of threats, challenges, and opportunities for all religions. The present volume explores the contours of pressures, changes, and transformations, and reflects on how all our religions are changing under the common pressures of recent decades. By identifying commonalities across religions as they respond to these pressures, it suggests how religious traditions might cope with these changes and how they might join forces in doing so.
Alon Goshen-Gottstein is founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. A noted scholar of Jewish studies, he has held academic posts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University and has served as director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, Jerusalem.
Foreword: Think-Tank of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Barcelona, 2004 Preface, Alon Goshen-Gottstein Chapter 1: "The Holy" in Religions, Alon Goshen-Gottstein Chapter 2: Summary of Essays, Alon Goshen-Gottstein Chapter 3: Buddhism, Michael von Bruck and Maria Reis Habito Chapter 4: Christianity: A Roman Catholic's View, Sidney H. Griffith Chapter 5: Judaism: Challenges and Opportunities in the Contemporary Jewish Crisis of the Holy, B. Barry Levy Chapter 6: Hindusim: The Creation and Transformation of Hinduism, Deepak Sarma Chapter 7: Islam, Vincent J. Cornell Chapter 8: Concluding Reflections, Alon Goshen-Gottstein