This is the vision behind the 92nd Street Y-inspired Cordoba Center (or Park51), which Newt Gingrich and others seem to think will be a sleeper madrassa for anti-modern, anti-democratic Islamists. Who's anti-modern and anti-democratic here? The phrase conversations across our identities is a good one, even better than between or even among. The across part is what democracy's all about - America too, if you ask me. But it's the very thing the nativist chauvinists can't abide (akin, in a way, to their suspicions of "empathy"). And notice that identities allows that we might each already be a crossing, a conversation. A dangerous idea?
I'm teaching a first year seminar this Fall (starting end of this month!) called Religion in Dialogue. It might be interesting to follow discussion about the Cordoba Center as we explore dialogue within and between religions - and the religious significance of dialogue itself.