"The world is now witnessing the emergence of a global culture. Whether we like it or not, there is a very rapid convergence of thought, language, and behavior around the planet. Perhaps because we see things more and more through the lens of planetary citizenship, the world at the same time appears more disturbingly fractious and sectarian than ever. Tiny ethnic groups strive mightily for recognition or autonomy within larger nation-states. Religious groups flaunt their identities more than ever, even to the point of inciting armed conflicts. As televisions, cell phones, and Internet connections proliferate, so also do the reactions of sects and ethnic groups against the homogenization of the human family. The exaggerated truth-claims of dogmatic Christian groups — and dogmatic non-Christian groups — are symptoms of the stresses that come with globalization.

"And there are very good reasons why ethnic and religious groups feel threatened by this trend. The precious particularities of these cultures are faced with annihilation by video games, Hollywood action films, and fast-food chains. Their unique spiritual insights are threatened with what is perceived to be the shallow world view of capitalism and consumerism.

"There is a way to live in two worlds at once. There is a way to live in the global context and in an ethnically or religiously specific context at the same time. Indeed, one makes the other possible.

"To commune with each other, we need to honor the validity of each other's specific cultural backgrounds as we do our own. Without our particularities, there would be little ground for interesting discourse, because there wouldn't be anything new to say! We need to continue to practice our different religions while having a deep level of respect for other belief systems. By abandoning the chauvinism that claims one or another religion is supreme, people can practice the best parts of our diverse religious heritage while being profoundly enriched by a global spiritual culture. The authority structure of each historic religion has its place, but there is a higher authority, a Holy Spirit that enables practitioners of all religions to commune with each other in 'sighs too deep for words.' (Romans 8:26)

" 'However different the paths followed by different civilizations, we can find the same basic message at the core of most religions and cultures throughout history: people should revere God as a phenomenon that transcends them; they should revere one another; and they should not harm their fellow humans. To my mind, reflecting on this message is the only way out of the crisis the world finds itself in today.' These words of Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic and hero of the struggle against communist totalitarianism in his country, point to the emergence of a global culture that finds a common language of spirituality. They come from a man who is not a professing member of any faith, yet understands the profound need for the whole human race to walk humbly before God."