Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

September 29 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  Pastor Don believes in the transformative nature of love.  In what ways have you experienced this?  How do you see this power of love as a universal value?

Question 2.  If Pastor Don sees love as the central focus of his Christian faith, does that mean Christianity “owns” love?  What if several traditions share a common focus?

Question 3.  Rabbi Ted talks about finding deeper meaning in words he had learned as a child.  Are there texts, songs, or stories in which you are now able to find deeper meaning than they had for you when you first learned them?  If so, how did that additional meaning become clear to your?

Question 4.  Rabbi Ted shared an event that helped open him to a fuller vision of his spiritual identity and through that, to deeper interfaith connections.  Are there events in your own life that have enabled you to understand what you share with those of other faiths and traditions?

Question 5.  Sheikh Jamal found himself experiencing the intensity of God’s compassion even when going through an extremely difficult time of loss.  When have you most been aware of universal compassion and love?  When have you felt most distant from that love?

Question 6.  Sheikh Jamal focuses on the virtue of compassion.  Do you think that every spiritual path needs to reflect this virtue?  Why?

Question 7.  If you were to focus on one central teaching that has impacted you in your life, what would it be?  How did you find that teaching?  What has it meant for you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

September 22 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  In Pastor Don’s journey to interfaith, he describes his experience of being born into privilege.  How do you relate to the issue of privilege in your own life?  Do you feel as if you are an “insider,” or do you experience yourself on the “outside,” looking in?

Question 2.  Have there been special moments in your own life when you became aware of the suffering of others?  What have been the consequences of those moments?

Question 3.  Rabbi Ted shared his experience when he realized that he was a minority and related some of the painful experiences associated with that realization.  Have you ever felt like a minority, an outsider, different?  How has that experience influenced you?

Question 4.  What is your relationship to some of the minorities in your community?  How do you feel when you think about approaching them?  What might your goals be in establishing such conversations?

Question 5.  Sheikh Jamal shared his very special relationship with his parents.  They were major teachers for him on his spiritual path.  How have your parents influenced your own spiritual path?  Are you following in their footsteps, or have you set out on your own?  How has this affected your relationship with your parents?

Question 6.  Sheikh Jamal said that, until 9/11, he never experienced discrimination as a Muslim, but he did experience discrimination as a person of color.  How have you been aware of discrimination in your own life?  Have you been able to allow your experience to sensitize you to the experience of others?

Question 7.  The three authors mentioned the synchronicities that brought them together.  How has synchronicity played a part in the significant relationships in your life?  Are you aware of the special but surprising moments of meeting you have experienced?

Question 8.  How have you become interested in issues of interfaith relations?  Is this an important subject for you?  What circumstances in your life have awakened your interest in other religions?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

September 15 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  What does the word interfaith mean to you?

Question 2.  The stages of interfaith dialogue often begin with distrust and suspicion.  Are there any religious groups with whom you experience this kind of distrust?  What do you think might bridge the distance you feel?

Question 3.  Sometimes we tolerate each other, but do not know very much about the beliefs and rituals of someone of another religion.  Have you ever been to a religious service of another faith?  If so, what did that feel like?  Have you ever welcomed another to an observance of your faith?  What was that experience like?

Question 4.  What other faiths would you like to learn more about?

Question 5.  What differences or concerns get in the way for you when you think about interfaith relations?  How might both your interests and concerns serve as a catalyst for your next step in exploring interfaith dialogue?

Question 6.  If you found something in another faith that resonated for you, would you be comfortable incorporating an aspect of that practice into your life and making it your own?  What might that look like?

Question 7.  Do you think that interfaith exploration can lead to a watering down of an individual’s faith identity?  If so, how?  Do you think such an exploration can deepen your faith identity?

Question 8.  What opportunities are there in your community for meeting people of other faiths?  Who might you take advantage of these and explore them further?