At Sightings, Joshua M. Z. Stanton discusses the value of ethical wills for interreligious dialogue:
Unlike their legal counterparts, ethical wills are documents that contain the hopes, insights, and experiences that a person wants to share with future generations as a legacy of values. The origin of ethical wills is often attributed to the Biblical period, when Jacob expresses his hopes for each of his sons’ futures. Up through the Middle Ages, they remained reasonably well known among the intelligentsia of many Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities, both in the Middle East and Europe. After declining in use for four centuries, ethical wills have been ‘rediscovered’ in the last decade and become an increasingly popular way to provide moral guidance in an age of great change.
As I found out for myself, the process of recording an ethical will with another person can be challenging and emotional. When we set out to create our ethical wills, we are forced to look back on our own lives and size up our successes, failures, and deeply held beliefs. More importantly—and more successfully than in many other forms of dialogue—ethical wills and the process of recording them lead to meaningful and even profound interchanges about the values that each of us hold. Precisely because of the personal and theological significance of ethical wills, they may provide an effective tool for inter-religious dialogue. Through them, we can talk about our beliefs without degenerating into the platitudes or generalizations that can otherwise encumber inter-religious interchanges.
Read the entire piece here.