Contributors Do unto others

Interfaith dialogue proves singular grace for Catholic deacon

Deacon Scholl is the archdiocesan consultant for social justice. You can email him at:

by Deacon Bill Scholl

I consider myself a conservative, but as my wife can attest, I am way too liberal in one area of my life: the snooze button.

So, the fact that for six years I’ve promptly woken up at 5 a.m. every Sunday and driven to the Cumulus radio station to co-host “Religion on the Line,” I consider a signal grace.

Recently, I and my co-hosts Rabbi Michael Zedek and the Reverend Bob Hill were informed that after more than 28 years 710 Talk radio had decided to “go in a different direction.” We negotiated to stay on a bit longer by purchasing some air time with the help of donations from our listeners.

However, it seems the Sunday after Thanksgiving is to be our last broadcast on their airwaves. I find myself left with only one response: gratitude.

St. Paul teaches: “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God.” After having participated in such a long conversation with Kansas City about God and religion, how can I be anything but grateful?

I am grateful to my co-hosts who have been doing the show from the beginning. I am grateful to my Catholic predecessors — Father Thom Savage, George Noonan and Deacon John Purk — and to the subs — Pastor Barry Freeze, Imam Bilal Muhammad, Rabbi Alan Londy and Deacon Jim Lavin — who helped us keep the trialogue going.

Conversing with ministers of different faiths gave me a greater appreciation and understanding of my Catholic faith. Certainly, our conversations stretched and surprised me, and I learned what evangelists really mean about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Sharing belief with different faiths puts one on a precipice that straddles the heresies of syncretism (God has no preference for us regarding religion) and triumphalism (God only cares for my religion). We stand athwart the scandal of what one considers sacred and obvious not being sacred and obvious to others.

This precipitous gaze is disorienting as one tries to measure response and silence. However, when one looks out, what a view! You behold people seeking God from where they are at, and God meeting them there.

Perhaps I am most grateful to the listeners and the callers like: Madeline, Mike, Bebo, Elder Hall, Richard and everyone who called in (even the ones who were not so nice). God often minsters to us through the ministry we give and I certainly experienced God’s grace from them.

If I am sad at all, it’s because the conversation seems to be ending. We hope “Religion on the Line” might find another venue but the airwaves may now be closed to such conversation.

Our show’s motto is borrowed from a quote attributed to Pope St. John XXIII: “Let us look at each other without mistrust. Let us meet each other without fear. Let us talk with each other without surrendering principle.”

Such conversations are difficult, but I am grateful to have learned that these are the best kind when they are given over to God.

About the author

Deacon Bill Scholl

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