Thursday, December 4, 2008

Interfaith relations, pt 2

Yesterday was another meeting of the local interfaith organization's committee planning for the big tri-faith event in the spring.

We were working on the liturgies that would be used for that evening. I was heartened to see the rabbi and the Muslims insisting that we all do authentic prayer. Nothing was to be hidden or sugar coated to minimize or hide our differences. The Christian Evening Prayer was to be not that different from what would offered in your regular Episcopal parish. The Shabbat service (notably shortened) was to include all the things that make it Jewish. The Muslims started working out the logistics of prayer; would women be present? Would there be a screen to separate men from women?

This shows the real discussion going on in the Islamic community here in Omaha. There is no monolithic "Muslim" perspective; some see no reason to separate men from women, some are concerned about modesty.

Instead of glossing over differences, the creative tension and debate brings us to understanding. Hiding things leaves them unexamined. It leaves them to fester underneath a pleasant exterior. We can pretend that only little things divide us, but that's untrue, and hiding those differences means we don't end up learning from each other. I trust that I am secure enough in my faith and others in theirs that me being authentically Christian doesn't diminish their personhood just as their religion doesn't diminish my personhood.

I'm really excited for when we start working on preparing the book for the liturgies. The religion nerd inside me can't wait to start working on the commentaries to the worship services.

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