“More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason,” says comedian George Carlin in his hilarious look at the Ten Commandments. Although the fallacy of that premise has been analyzed by theologians there is truth to the idea that religious differences can be the cause of painful and harmful conflict.
One of the ways we can help create a more peaceful world is by building relationships with people who have a different faith than we do and by engaging in meaningful dialogue with them. I think that was the idea behind the worship service that had been planned in the church I attended yesterday, on the Sunday just prior to Remembrance Day.
Our speaker was James Friesen a teacher at a Mennonite highschool who travels to the Middle East bi-annually with his students. He has lived in Lebanon and spent time in many different countries. He began his sermon by talking about some of his experiences engaging in dialogue with people of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist faith.
James left us with some commandments of his own that he suggested should guide our interactions and discussions with people of other faiths.
1) Don’t be judgemental. Remember that your faith group doesn’t own the truth- God does. Leave judgement up to God.
2) Be passionate. Engage in inter-faith dialogue with conviction, with the idea that your faith choice is more than a preference it is something that has been life changing for you. Be bold but also humble.
3) Expect to learn something. Approach inter-faith discussions with wonder and with the idea that your beliefs don’t prevent you from learning something from the faith of others even though their faith is very different from yours.
Some other things I jotted down as James spoke were…….
Discussing our faith and having it criticized can make our faith stronger.
We will be missing out on so much that is interesting and meaningful in life if we say inter-faith dialogue doesn’t matter or isn’t important.
Lively and passionate discussion about religious differences does not imply hatred but can be a mark of respect and love.
Dialogue about religious truth can be both fascinating and inspiring.
We must learn from those of other faiths and see God’s presence in them.
Inter-faith friendships and discussions help us embrace God’s mysterious presence in the world.
Other posts about Remembrance Day and remembering………..