Project Goals

When asked what he envisions as the main goals of the Charting Pluralism project, PK says: “I believe that having a mutually agreed upon starting point is the key to meaningful dialog among students of religious pluralism. My foremost goal is to see Charting Pluralism used as that starting point, to see it acting as a facilitator of dialog. While the Charting Pluralism construct provides for many variations and interpretations, as you navigate through the countless corridors of our numerous charts you can always go back to the Core diagram so that there can be, at a minimum, mutual agreement. It is my hope that the Core will be the “common ground” identified by Dr. Diana Eck in The Pluralism Project. I am hopeful that the new paradigm called Charting Pluralism will take interfaith dialogue to a new level.”

But rather than publishing this Core, and the various possible charts stemming from it, as a new theory of religion in an article or book, rather than asserting our interpretation as the interpretation, we have found that the Core and its limitless charting possibilities is better suited to an interactive web format than to a static print format. Our goals in asserting the Core concept and creating these charts is not declare the truth of the interpretation put forth therein, but rather to provide a useful medium through which dialog and learning can occur.

At the very heart of the Charting Pluralism project, is the necessity of revision; revision in the charts, but more so, revision in the thinking of participants. We each come to this project with our own notions of what particular religions are about, or even what “religion” itself is. The goal of Charting Pluralism is not to pigeon-hole concepts or religious groups, but rather to expose both our correct and incorrect understandings by sharing them in the visual form made possible by the chart concept. We acknowledge that it is impossible to organize the world’s religions on a chart in such a way that everyone will agree on the accuracy of the arrangement. While accuracy in representing and understanding world religions is a primary aim of Charting Pluralism, it is essential for Charting Pluralism participants to understand that perfect accuracy is impossible. No one person, not even the most renowned scholar of world religions, can arrange the faiths of the world on a chart that no one will object to. Rather than pretend to the aim of absolute correctness, we propose instead a project centered around the process of revision. By reading the charts and posing alternatives and revisions, we will learn more and create much more useful dialog than if one chart was asserted as an untouchable standard.

The Charting Pluralism projects aims, above all, to create opportunities for mutual education among participants. By discussing, revising, debating, agreeing and disagreeing, we can collectively come to a better understanding of the religions of the world than we could come to sitting alone, reading about them in books or other resources. While individual learning is still an important part of the process, we hope that by providing a platform for dialog we will take our collective learning to a higher level.

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