There’s a really important article in this month’s issue of The Interfaith Observer. Lynda Trono, program convenor on the board of directors for the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN), has written a reflection on the first day of this summer’s NAIN Connect in Guadalajara. She begins by expressing the same feelings I had when listening to the opening keynote by Raul Vera López, bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo. And she ends up with an admission of arriving at the first ever NAIN Connect in Mexico with cultural blinders firmly in place.
I resonated completely with her frustration at having to listen to a very long Christian sermon at the start of an interfaith gathering. I also shared her chagrin at coming to learn that the bishop, a staunch defender of human rights, is beloved in Mexico – in fact is called the Oscar Romero of Mexico.
There’s a lesson here for us to learn. As open and accepting we profess to be, we still come into interfaith gatherings with cultural biases and expectations. In Guadalajara I was already aware of (and embarrassed by) my “ugly American” lack of ability to speak Spanish. Now I learn how much deeper my sense of privilege runs. And even as I wonder what might have helped us to bridge the cultural divide earlier than we did, I know that it’s up to me to learn about the culture I’m visiting.
I’m very grateful for Lynda Trono’s honest and reflective article.