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Building Bridges in Istanbul ROWAN WILLIAMS I want to begin by thanking Bahçeşehir University very heartily for the generous welcome and expert cooperation that they have given to us in the planning of this seminar.1 We are very honored to be received with such warmth, and we look forward to spending time in this environment in the days that lie ahead. By way of introduction I want to say a few words first about the nature of the Building Bridges seminar and then about the subject matter that we shall be addressing over the coming days. First of all, the Building Bridges seminar itself. This is the eighth of the seminars under this title. The first was convened by my predecessor as Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, very shortly after the tragic events of September 11. The Building Bridges seminar grew out of a vision that scholars of Christianity and Islam ought to be meeting together, in an atmosphere without political pressure, to discuss at depth the concerns, priorities, and insights that they wish to share with each other in the hope that this discussion might have an impact on the wider world. The seminar has never sought to be a major public event. We have not issued statements , but we have published our proceedings, the papers and the lectures that have been given on these occasions. The main focus of each seminar has been that we should form trusting relationships with each other and that we should be able to take something of that trust and confidence in each other back to our own institutions and our own religious bodies. What has been perhaps most distinctive about the seminar from the beginning has been an emphasis on our method. We have always sought to do our business by working from the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. We have concentrated a great deal of our energy on reading our sacred texts together in the belief that, as I have sometimes put it, when you see someone else reading their own sacred scripture, you see their face turned toward God. 1 2  science and religion That is a very good basis for trust, confidence, and friendship as the discussion unfolds. So for each of these seminars we have selected a number of texts from our scriptures, as well as some from commentaries, as the basis of discussion. Thus, we have not sought to address topics or issues in the abstract but as they arise from the central texts of revelation as we see them in our different faiths. I believe that this has been a fruitful and challenging method to follow, one that has allowed us to enter some areas of reflection not often explored in inter faith discussion. I certainly believe that this method has helped to deepen and reinforce the links of trust and friendship between us. For each of the seminars we have sought to draw from a wide range of representatives of Christianity and Islam. We have sought people from across the globe and from different kinds of background and conviction within the Christian and the Muslim worlds. Over these years, we have also been privileged to take the seminar to different settings. We have met in Doha, Washington , Sarajevo, Singapore, and Rome. We have been supported in all of this work with enormous faithfulness and generosity by Georgetown University, and I want to pay public tribute to President DeGioia and his colleagues for their support and that welcome. We have hoped that in taking the seminar to different places around the world we might be able to model for different contexts what is involved in constructive encounter between Muslims and Christians to show that it is possible to have deep, honest, and constructive conversation even about the most difficult questions. We have been greatly helped in several of the seminars by the presence of scholars from Turkey. It was therefore a very great delight when, at our last seminar, it was suggested that we might consider holding the Building Bridges seminar in Istanbul. I am particularly grateful to our Turkish colleagues and friends for their encouragement and their inspiration in this respect. We were happy to come to Istanbul, partly because we were aware of the depth and sophistication with which questions about Islam and modernity are being addressed in this context. The quality of the scholarship and reflection that our Turkish colleagues have shown encouraged us...


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