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June 2012

Confronting ‘the Other’ in Your Own Community

Interfaith dialogue between people of widely divergent faiths is challenging enough, but the tougher assignment is encountering a member of your own religion with whom you profoundly disagree. When that happens, knowing you share a common faith and tradition offers little if your vastly divergent beliefs appear irreconcilable. Perhaps you are secretly wondering if both of you are from the same planet. That is the precise moment – if you have experience as an interfaith activist – that you will want to apply the wisdom you have learned from encounters with people of other religions to deal with the real and present differences of someone from your own faith.

Evangelicals and Interreligious Dialogue: the Next Generation

It doesn’t take much time visiting websites, attending conferences, or reading books about interfaith dialogue to discover how few Protestant evangelicals are involved. A few can be found, to be sure, but not in large numbers.

Opening Many Doors to the Spirit

On April 21, 2012, Pacific School of Religion hosted a new event called Sacred Snapshots: A Sampler for the Spirit, a day-long event celebrating spiritual practices from a range of religions and tradition. Each hour during the day, participants could choose from an array of experiential sessions, worship rituals, and lectures on divinity in its many forms, taught by progressive leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of various faiths.

Where the Anti-Muslim Path Leads

“If I were Muslim, I’d kill myself.”

No, that’s not what was said.  It was: “If I looked like him, I’d kill myself.”

The speaker was my favorite uncle, commenting on an overweight man, across a hotel pool.  Considering how much self-talk I had engaged in to convince myself to be seen in a swimsuit, visiting my California relatives, I absorbed this pronouncement in shame and silence, trying desperately to hold onto shreds of self-worth.

How to Survive Well with Religious Diversity

Despite popular slogans, we do not dwell in a world characterized by unprecedented diversity, whether religious diversity or other kinds of diversity. There has always been a great deal of religious diversity on the planet, perhaps even more in the past than at present. Many smaller indigenous religious have been swallowed up by the so-called “great world religions.” But we do live in a world in which knowledge about such diversity cannot be avoided, both because many societies are now more religiously diverse than was usual in the past and because modern methods of communication make such knowledge unavoidable.

One Muslim’s Interfaith Resolutions

The following resolutions were framed by Sohaib Saeed as the conclusion to his paper titled, “The Golden Rule – Can We Live by It?” presented at the 10th Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh, August 2010. The longer paper demonstrates how deeply and constructively Saeed reaches into both the Golden Rule idea and Islam to come to resolutions from which every one of us can benefit.

Rebranding Interfaith

I had asked a Jewish audience to share a single word to capture their thoughts of my presentation on Muslim-Jewish relations.  I had spent the last hour painting a picture of the broken communication between Jews and Muslims over the last 20 years – the public spats, the failed dialogues and the wounded relationships.  I devoted the last portion of the session to envisioning a more positive paradigm and cultivating the tools to get us there.

Bridge-building – the Hard Lessons

In 2004 I attended the Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona, Spain. When the appointed translation services broke down during the explanations of indigenous rites being enacted, I was asked to help translate. I speak Spanish and come from an indigenous-related spiritual tradition. So began my journey into the world of interfaith relationships.

NAINConnect 2012 Comes to Atlanta Next Month

Twenty-four-year-old North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) convenes on July 15 for four days to explore “Creating Interfaith-Friendly Cities and the Beloved World Community.” The general public is invited to register and attend.

“Interfaith 3.0” from the Outside

In the December 2011 issue of The Interfaith Observer, Bettina Gray wrote about the recent changes in the interfaith movement. Her piece is impressive and inspiring, an optimistic view of our interfaith future. She wrote as one with significant experience and a long history in interfaith work; but she also wrote from the perspective of someone embedded in the “mainstream” religions that have dominated interfaith work since its beginnings. Once restricted to Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), the administrative core of interfaith work gradually expanded to include the other two members – Buddhism and Hinduism – of what have been called “the big five” religions.

Getting To Know You

Without shared service, interfaith dialogue achieves very little. This interfaith commonplace is good advice for anyone committed to a healthy interfaith future. Dozens of TIO articles this past year draw their power from collaborative efforts among those who were strangers and now active in a larger family.