On Disagreements and Discrimination

Streets signs at the intersection between Church St. and State St.

[Author’s Note: This post deals with currently controversial intersections between religion and politics.  I share it with you all not to create disagreement or strife, but because I think it’s important to cogently work through these situations together and because I think they’re illustrative of a deeper issue within the American public square.] In interfaith, it’s all too easy to see another’s point of view during a conversation.  I don’t have to agree with a dialog partner, … [Read more...]

Diversity – A Lot of Work

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Oops - I’m chairing the nominating committee for Interfaith Partners of S.C. for the next four weeks, leading up to when we must present a slate at our November 4 annual meeting. It’s just work that must be done in any organization, but each small part of the process takes on deeper, more tender, meaning when it involves multiple religions, cultures, ethnicities, genders, etc. Natural tensions exist, of course, between most religions and individuals: Vague (or acute) awareness of … [Read more...]

The “Faith” aspect of Interfaith

The “Faith” aspect of Interfaith At a recent interfaith board meeting, we were discussing the finer points of what it means to do interfaith work, most specifically, how do we as individuals and interfaith spokespersons reach out to the newly arrived group that call themselves Spiritual, But Not Religious (SBNR). To me, it was fairly obvious that we continue to do as we have done with other faith communities:  provide educational information about all the religions/faiths/non-faiths that … [Read more...]

Forgiveness and Redemption

Angulimala about to fail at murdering.

When thinking about the topic of forgiveness, I found that I had a couple of conflicting thoughts. This is one of those cases where interfaith work is internal, being that I both identify as a Hellenic Polytheist and a California Buddhist. My Buddhist self told the story of Angulimala, who was once a murderer and a thief and, upon learning stillness from the Buddha (who was to be his 1,000th murder victim), became a monk and never intentionally harmed another person again. The Buddha was willing … [Read more...]

An Interfaith Summit on Child Poverty

This past Wednesday evening, I dressed in what passes for my business suit and went downtown to Trinity Episcopal Church to participate in an interfaith summit on child poverty in my county, which is Buncombe.  Yes, I know--and that is, in fact, where the word "bunkum" comes from. It was sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of western NC and others and several non-profits presented some frightening statistics about the level of poverty in this county that includes the Biltmore Estate and the … [Read more...]

Interfaith God Parenting

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This is a late addition to the Patheos Symposium regarding Passing on the Faith.  In this symposium, authors from across multiple channels were asked to offer their perspective on educating children in matters of faith. I've never seen myself as good parenting material.  Many disagree with me, but I know that I much prefer kids in small doses.  Especially when they can go home to someone else's home at the end of the day.  My wife and I have struggled with this because she greatly desires … [Read more...]

Military Chaplaincy – Interfaith at Risk

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  “As long as armies have existed, military chaplains have served alongside soldiers, providing for their spiritual needs, working to improve morale, and aiding the wounded.  The Bible tells of the early Israelites bringing their priests into battle with them.  Pagan priests accompanied the Roman legions during their conquests; as Christianity became the predominant religion of the Roman Empire, Christian chaplains administered to Roman soldiers.  In fact, the word chaplain is … [Read more...]

Atchison Blue: Peace, Humility, Poise

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Last night I took a break from course texts, Egyptology, and Pagan-metaphysical books to read a Patheos Book Club selection. Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith is a tender personal account by PBS-TV religion reporter Judith Valente about the time she spends at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. I was curious to hear what would cause a reporter to take long breaks from her demanding work to go immerse herself in the world of the cloister. It may … [Read more...]

Are You Listening To Me?

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For many years I have been hired to conduct feasibility studies and community assessments. Without boring you with too much business jargon, I will simply say that 10% of such work is organization, appointments and report-writing, and 90% is listening. When you really, truly listen to people, in such a way that they know you are hearing them, they will tell you some remarkable things. Regardless of why a study is commissioned, each project has been a keen reminder that everything comes back down … [Read more...]

The World Table

Logo for the World Table

For over a year, I've been working with an organization called the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy (FRD).  I've received some criticism of that effort from both individuals and, in some cases, organizations who have some issues with the fact that the organization embraces evangelism, both simply the idea of persuasion with respect to deeply held beliefs but also the Christian practice of spreading the message of the Gospel, rather than (overtly or covertly) asking members to avoid trying to … [Read more...]