(Photo: Karissa Feese)
By: Allison Upchurch, Staff Reporter
Last night, the Institute of the Common Good hosted a talk in the Mountain View Room about executing interfaith dialogue with others of different religions and beliefs.
The men that gave the talk were visitors who call themselves the Interfaith Amigos. Within this group, Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Imam Jamal Rahman have given talks around the world and served many communities by connecting their personal faith practices with that to the message of the need for extensive human connection and communication in a divided world. Their goal is to help communities recognize the importance of interfaith dialogue and show how to execute it effectively.
Each of these men had found the need to look into, promote, and practice interfaith dialogue because of their experiences in life, ranging from being the victims of anti-Semitism to learning how their faith practices connect to how they are called to treat other people. From their experiences, these men were able to come together in the aftermath of 9/11 to form this group to, according to Rabbi Falcon, “ask the question of why interfaith dialogue had not brought us to a place of understanding or reconciliation”.
In figuring out a solution to this question, they all agreed that the world is in the state that it is because the world has gone astray “from core teachings” of divinity and the human condition. In a light-hearted tone, Imam Rahman gave an insight into this by saying, “We have
learned from history that…we do not learn from history.”
The three men turned to each of their sacred texts and shared their religion’s outlooks and readings on interconnectedness, unconditional love, and compassion in order to build on their six stages on effective interfaith dialogue. These first three stages are “getting to know each other as human beings”, “discussing the core teachings of all traditions represented by the people present”, and “identifying readings and practices that support those traditions”. According to Pastor Mackenzie, these are all essential to the four stage which is “the act of starting those difficult conversations” because interfaith “is about completion” that can only be achieved through knowledge of other’s faiths and practices. The final two stages are “willingness to be vulnerable” and “building habit of spiritual practices.”
The overall theme of the Interfaith Amigos talk was how creating interpersonal trust and grounding through shared human stories and experiences can lead to better understanding and stronger willingness to connect to others and break down barriers of differences.