Tag Archives: NAIN

Another Take on “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”

This is a re-blog of a sermon from Pastor Dawn Hutchings of Holy Cross Lutheran Church near Toronto. It’s entitled “Letting Go of the Words Attributed to Jesus So that We Can Embrace the WORD – Easter 5A – John 14:1-14”

For me, the best part of the sermon is her story of being paired with a Hindu student for an assignment in a Religious Studies program. They were each asked to bring a piece of sacred scripture from their partner’s faith tradition that they found intriguing. To her chagrin, her Hindu friend brought “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except though me” to the table. And to her surprise, he then launched into – as she says – “an exegesis of the text that put this particular Christian to shame.”

Read the rest of the story here.

“Talking with Strangers in Sacred Space”

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.



The Intrafaith Conversation in Mexico

NAINConnect16Well, 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 wshe likes itorkshop 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.

IMG_4605Then 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.

IMG_4606I 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.

Check out my web site at https://intrafaithconversation.com 
Follow my blog at https://intrafaithconversation.com/blog-2/
Buy my  book at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Sagrada Sacred Arts in Oakland, CA
Kindle edition is also available on Amazon

Taking The Conversation To Other Religions

nain_lg1Several months ago, the newsletter of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) put out a call for workshop proposals for this summer’s annual conference. I have attended only one NAIN gathering, in 2008 when it was held here in San Francisco.
I was on the planning team that year, and attended as a participant, not a presenter. NAINConnect-2016-3-1024x626

But this year, it just so happens that I have a new book that deals with matters both interfaith and intrafaith. And the conference will be in  Guadalajara! So I thought, “Why not?”

Well, my proposal was accepted – and now my challenge has begun.

When I first started working on my doctoral project – “What does it mean to be a Christian in an interfaith world?” – many in the interfaith community suggested that I broaden my scope to include all religions. And indeed, I agreed that there are intrafaith issues within all traditions (even atheists don’t always agree with one another!) But I’m a Christian, and I felt that I could speak only to the issues that arise within my own tradition when we engage in interfaith relationships. I still feel that way, even though I’ve talked with friends from other religions about their particular challenges.

But now, since I made the proposal (what was I thinking?!), it’s time to broaden the scope in a way that has integrity both for me in my own tradition and for those of other traditions who will attend my workshop. The really great thing is that the session will be an hour and 45 minutes and the expectation is that workshops will be activity focused and participatory. In other words, it can be a real workshop, not the usual quick presentation with no time for interaction.

So, while I don’t have the workshop fleshed out yet, I know that it will be flexible enough  so that no matter what the makeup is of the group that shows up, we’ll work together on finding commonalities, differences, and shared wisdom.

And – I am more than happy to hear from those who want to let me know about the intrafaith issues they’ve observed or experienced. In other words: HELP!!!

Join the INTERfaith INTRAfaith Conversation!she likes it copy she likes it copy.jpg