Learning the languages of peace
in Religion and rights
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Pentecost marks the birth of a people through the restoration of communication between people of different languages and stories. Pentecost has restored Babel by creating a people who have learned how to be at peace in a world of impatient violence. It was at Babel that people, seduced by the technological breakthrough of learning to make bricks, concluded that they had become god-like because they were now free from the limitations of nature and their particular histories. For after Babel, God, who had first made a covenant with all creation, chooses to call out one people that they might be a witness to God's will. If the church is rightly understood to be God's new language it is crucial that it not displace our particular languages. But learning the languages of peace cannot, in the name of universality, require that Jonathan Sacks forfeit the particularity of his tradition's memory.

Religion and rights

The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2008

Editor: Wes Williams


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