Occasionally, we learn concepts that completely change our outlook on things and how we interact with others. That is exactly what the idea of holy envy has done for me. Bishop Krister Stendahl, a former presiding Lutheran bishop of Sweden, is accredited with the term “holy envy”. He proposed certain ground rules for interfaith discussion. One of them is, “Leave room for holy envy.” It is a beautiful idea that when learning about another faith we can find something impressive or admirable in their traditions. Just because these discoveries occur should not make one feel disloyal to their own faith.
My goal is to build and express interfaith understanding, and to especially focus on the positive aspects of various world religions. This is a study much broader than only Christianity, but of the worlds largest faiths and how they are practiced. Only highlights of these religions are examined rather than an overview of their basic beliefs. As I study each faith I hope to discover something in other religions that I admire and I can express “holy envy” about to the end of expanding my understanding and find aspects that could bless anybody.
In contrast to my hope and goal of appreciation is an attitude of close-mindedness and ignorance. I’ve been guilty of this more than my pride allows me to admit. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also commonly known as the Mormon church, this attitude is a function of strong dedication to my own faith. I don’t actively look to shut out any good that can come from a source not associated with my own faith. I believe most people have a closed attitude towards learning about and appreciating other faiths because of their dedication to their own; however, truth and goodness can be found abundantly and should be at the very least admired. The prelude to offense is misunderstanding, and offense is too often the result of interfaith dialogue. I want to offer my Latter-Day Saint perspective on my learning about world faiths and the holy envy I have for some of their traditions.
I hope that some of my thoughts help you to identify aspects of holy envy you have for others, not only in their religious views, but in anyway they live their life that you can admire without debilitating your own lifestyle. Please feel free to comment on some of your experiences with any religion or cultures that you have had. I would love to have others contribute to the content here and I welcome any feedback!