IYLI Reflections: Sharing the In-Between

As a long time youth minister one thing I’ve learned time and time again is that youth are great storytellers.  We under estimate them when we tell ourselves that they have no stories to tell, or that they haven’t really ‘lived’ enough to have powerful things to say.  As a group mentor during IYLI I had the privilege of hearing our participant’s stories, their living oral histories, and sharing a few of my own. Continue reading

Why “Interfaith”?

This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly blog on current issues relating to the interfaith world we live in!  I guess the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about interfaith work is “why?”  I mean, why care about doing interfaith work at all, when most of us come from a religious tradition that is quite full of ideas, good work, history, community, etc?  I must say, that is a very good question.  Christians, Jews, Muslims – all the Abrahamic religions have traditions that go back thousands of years.  That’s a lot of history, theology, noble endeavors, questionable decisions, and family connections to dissect.  There are religious holidays, what you were taught as a child, what you are teaching your own children – all of this can take place solely and quite happily within your own religious tradition.  And it is rich, varied, and beautiful all by itself.  So why venture out at all from the world of “faith” to the world of “interfaith”?  I’ll give one answer in this post. Continue reading

Are you trying to “convert” people in interfaith work?

One of the first hurdles one comes to when thinking about doing interfaith work is fear.  People are often scared of what they don’t know, and for many people, the “other” is fearful simply because they don’t know it.  This is especially true with religion.  Many people are wonderfully committed to their religious tradition, which is tremendously laudable.  However for some, that commitment has included a de-legitimizing, or at least a degrading of other religious traditions.  This makes a little bit of sense at first glance:  Why pick one religion over another, if not for your sense that one is a little better, or offers a truer sense of the divine, or will get you to heaven more assuredly?  However, if we dig a little deeper, there are a number of other factors in play, including the impulse to demonize.  Not unlike an insecure person who has to put down those around him/herself to make him/herself feel better, sometimes people in one religious tradition can attack another religious tradition simply to puff up their own.  Why the need to tear down another religion in order to feel good about your own?  I think there are a few possible reasons.  But for our purposes, I’d like to focus on the role of proselytizing in religion. Continue reading