Knippa lecturer to call for more than tolerance
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2013
1/26/13 at 5:13 AM
Americans need to go beyond tolerance to having a genuine affection for other people, says the Rev. Peter W. Marty, who will deliver the 26th annual Knippa Lecture on Sunday.
"Is there a word that's the opposite of prejudice?" he asked in a phone interview this week.
"We tend to use the word tolerance, but that's not a very positive word. It doesn't exude positive feelings and attitudes toward other people."
Marty, pastor of the 3,500-member St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, said his position is informed by his faith.
"Jesus' most fundamental creedal statement is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself," he said.
"What does that mean for people who want to share communities with people who are different religiously?
"When Scripture refers to the neighbor, the stranger, it sounds very objective. It sounds very neutral. But your neighbor is a flesh and blood person with hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, goals and aspirations. They're not just a neighbor," he said.
He said he is concerned about a polarized society.
"I do fear a polarization that's not abating any time soon, and I think devoutly religious people play a key role here, because as far as I'm concerned, the more deeply I hold my own Christian faith, the more open I can be to others who don't hold that faith," he said.
"Lots of people think it's the other way around, that if you have really deep convictions about Jesus as your personal lord and savior, you just can't be open to others.
"And I would argue otherwise.
"It's precisely your rootedness and your deep convictions in your own tradition that allow and foster a kind of openness that's beautiful."
Marty said that when he prays at public events, he wants his prayer to be authentic and rooted in the Christian tradition, without creating offense.
"And if I sit down with a Jew or a Muslim for supper, I want them to not sacrifice their Judaism or (Islamism) just because they're in my house. I want them to be who they are."
The Knippa lecture series was established 26 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Clarence W. Knippa, retired pastor of Grace Lutheran, to promote understanding between differing religious and ethical traditions.
What: 26th annual Knippa Interfaith/Ecumenical Lecture Series
Who: The Rev. Peter W. Marty
Topic: The Limits of Tolerance
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Grace Lutheran Church, 2331 E. 5th Place.
Note: Reception will follow. Parking shuttle available from Kendall Whittier Elementary School, Fifth Place and Atlanta Avenue.
Who is Peter W. Marty?
- Senior pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa
- Board chairman, Christian Century magazine
- Frequent speaker at colleges, churches and conferences
- Author of more than 70 articles on leadership, parish renewal and preaching
- Lead columnist, The Lutheran magazine
- Recipient of Oxford University fellowship
- Former host of "Grace Matters," a national radio broadcast with more than 1 million listeners
- Former Lutheran Church missions worker in Cameroon, West Africa
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
The Rev. Peter Marty will deliver this year's Knippa Lecture at 7 p.m. Sunday. Courtesy