Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

November 10 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  The authors talk about the mountain of spiritual paths and spiritual purpose.  Can you identify with this image?  Where are you on that mountain?  Where would you wish to be?

Question 2.  In the oasis story, people tended to believe theirs was the only one connecting to the deepest source, just as in the early stages of the interfaith dialogue, some imagine that their faith alone is true.  How would you encourage people to appreciate that there are many traditions connected to a single Source of life?

Question 3. The authors present inclusive spirituality as a spirituality shared by many different faiths and traditions.  If this is so, what do you think is the value of having different religious traditions?

Question 4.  One of the controversial moments the authors describe involves the sharing of communion.  What were your impressions of this moment?  What are your feelings about this kind of interfaith sharing?

Question 5.  The end is always also the beginning.  As you think about what you have felt and learned during your reading of this book, how have you changed?  What new thoughts and ideas are emerging for you?  Where will you go from here? 

As you contemplate that question, what possibilities come to mind?  Can you imagine ways in which you can expand interfaith dialogue and understanding in your world?  What are your hopes for what this could bring about?

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

October 27 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  As you read about the spiritual practices in this chapter, which appeal to you the most?  How can you imagine using them to deepen your interfaith understanding?

Question 2.  What spiritual practices do you have that the authors have not discussed?  How have they affected your life?

Question 3. Can you think of any things that you normally do in your life that are actually spiritual practices for you?  How do you experience them as spiritual practices?

Question 4.  The authors present spiritual practices from each of their traditions and believe such practices create the inclusiveness that supports positive change in the world.  How do your spiritual practices translate into compassionate action in the world?

Question 5.  You have seen how each of the Abrahamic traditions provides specific practices for helping us deepen our spiritual journey.  Can you imagine practices that are not tied to a particular religion, but could be shared by all?  What would it be like to see all of life as part of our spiritual practice?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

October 20 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  The pastor, the rabbi, and the sheikh traveled together to the land holy to each of them, but each perceived it very differently.  The situation stimulated deeper conversation about some of the differences between them.  Have you ever been on such a journey?  When differences were discussed?  Did they help people get closer, or did they provoke anger and greater distance?

Question 2.  Pastor Don recognized the pain that has come to others from his Christian tradition.  Perhaps all traditions can identify with this in their past.  What are the difficulties that you perceive emerging from your religious tradition in the past or in the present?  What pain has it caused others?  Do you think such past pain can be healed?

Question 3.  Rabbi Ted was struck by the paradoxical impact of religious institutions.  He noted that although they develop to support a more universal spiritual experience, they tend to become focused on matters of their own survival.  Does this reflect your experience with institutions of your faith?  Are you aware of the purpose for which those institutions began?

Question 4.  Sheikh Jamal was the only Muslim on this trip to the Holy Land, and he was immediately singled out for special questioning upon landing.  To his surprise, the people from whom he had anticipated difficulty turned out to be supportive of his interfaith mission.  How would you have felt watching him being pulled aside by security officers?  Have you ever experienced unexpected hospitality?

Question 5.  Sheikh Jamal was pained by the violence on both sides of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and by the wall of separation that has been erected between the two peoples.  He wondered about the walls that we create in our own lives, and the acts of violence we commit in our own “holy land.”  Are you aware of walls you build in your own world?  How do you understand the walls of separation that people build to protect themselves from others?

Question 6.  Each experienced Israel and Palestine differently.  Which experiences did you most identify with?  With which did you have greatest difficulty?  Would you be interested in sharing such an interfaith journey – whether literally or metaphorically?  With whom?  What do you think it would take for you to prepare to move beyond “safe” territory to embark on such a journey?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Interfaith

October 13 Discussion Questions

Question 1.  The authors talk about what they really like about their respective traditions.  If you are a member of a faith tradition, can you share what especially appeals to you about your tradition?  If you do not identify with a formal religion, what do you especially like about the way you have chosen?

Question 2.  When you find things about your own path that you really like, do you feel that those things make your path better than any other?  How do you handle questions from others about this?

Question 3.  When you find awkward aspects of your path, do you find yourself avoiding them?  Explaining them away?  Can you share one aspect of your path that you find awkward?  How might you interpret this in a more universal way?

Question 4.  In what ways do you feel that your own path is misunderstood?  What would you like others to know about your beliefs?  Is there anything others do or say that particularly pains your?

Question 5.  Are there issues you have with aspects of another faith?  Would you be willing to share these concerns?  If another has such concerns about your faith, what could you do to respond without defensiveness?