Well, it’s over. The 28th annual gathering of the North American Interfaith Network at the Convento Esclavas de Cristo Rey in Guadalajara was the first (and hopefully not the last) NAIN Connect in Mexico.
The theme was “Sacred Space” and much attention was rightly given to the indigenous people of Mexico. But there were other expressions of sacred space – both internal and external. I myself was privileged to lead a workshop on creating safe and sacred space in which intrafaith conversations can happen.
My workshop was on Tuesday, but on Monday I got some great publicity. During the discussion at a workshop on interfaith hospitality, someone spoke up and said, “What we really need to have is an intrafaith dialogue.” I almost jumped out of my seat as I raised my hand to jump in and tell everyone about the opportunity to do just that – and buy the book as well!
Going in, I had no idea how many religions might be represented. This was my first venture with a potentially interfaith group. It turned out that the group was largely Christian, with a smattering of Buddhists, Religious Science adherents, a Jewish/Buddhist, and a “none.”
I started off with a personal intrafaith story. Then I shared a resource I had just learned at the hospitality workshop: The Differences Between Dialogue and Debate. This was part of the presentation about how to create a safe space for difficult dialogue to happen – and we all agreed that these can be very difficult conversations for us to be part of. Too often our buttons get pushed and our “non-anxious presence” (I prefer “non-reactive presence”) goes out the window.
Then we broke into small groups and everyone got a chance to share their own stories and struggles with members of their own tradition. Finally, we began to strategize about how to create an intrafaith conversation when we got back home.
I don’t know if anyone will do that. But I believe that, at the very least, the issue was put out onto the table, and participants went away with some resources and hopefully lots to think about.
And that’s a start.
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2 thoughts on “The Intrafaith Conversation in Mexico”
Hi Susan. I was in that particular dialogue at the NAIN conference in Guadalajara with you and I would like to echo your words. With over 360,000 different “Christian” groups in the world, it can be very confusing to someone who has been taught that “THEIR FAITH” is the “ONLY WAY” to practice faith in general. The idea that EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG just doesn’t make sense. I teach comparative Religion at the college level and most of my adult students are confused about their own religion not to mention what they believe about someone from the over 10,000 other world religions which do not practice Christianity. The Christian Mystics believed that what Jesus taught was the most accurate and important information for mankind to know, and I agree. And what He taught was previously taught by Zarathustra, Lao-Tse, Guru Nanak, Moses, Mahavira, Krishna, Confucius, Buddha, and leaders of other earlier faiths. Jesus asked us, “Who is your Brother?” and answered that “Everyone” was. I would ask that Christians who believe that ONLY they are right, re-read the knowledge Jesus left us and begin practicing His views of society and relationships. I believe they might learn more about Jesus’ intentions from people who do not practice Christianity.
Thanks, Stephen. I keep hearing how necessary this conversation is. I hope we can continue – next year in San Diego! Looking forward to it.