One of the things I really enjoy about the Interfaith Panels we hold regularly is getting the opportunity to observe other religious traditions. On November 14th there was one held at the Hindu temple GSET. It was my first opportunity to witness a Hindu ceremony. The style was pretty different from what I’m used to seeing from churches but it was very interesting to watch. The format of the ceremony was different but there were some familiar elements as well.
The other part of the Interfaith panels is getting the opportunity to talk with people of other traditions and speak about how we can work together. We have panel members from five different groups: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, and Christian. We’re all up on the stage as equals, we all have equal opportunity to tell our stories, and we all work as a team to respond to the questions from the audience.
I’ve always heard good, honest questions from the audience and everyone has been friendly and polite. After the panel ends there is always an informal gathering in the foyer outside and there are more great conversations there. Everyone is eager to discuss points of view and it really sparks honest discovery and sharing of thoughts and ideas. I’m always pleased to have talked to so many people and had the opportunity to simultaneously teach and learn.
Also as important, I love the opportunity to make new friends. Every one of these events I’ve met new folks and had the opportunity to talk to them openly and honestly. I’ve met new people at each one of these events. I invite any of them to contact me at a later date and we can sit and talk further.
I am always grateful for these opportunities and I would like to say how honored I am to be included in them. The people who work to make these happen do such an amazing job. Their hard work and vision have made these events the greatest opportunities we can all have to break down the barriers between us. I look forward to attending the next one, whether I am on the panel or in the audience. I hope that as we have more of these events we are able to reach a more diverse audience and reach farther out into the ranges of belief and dispel many of the misunderstandings people have about us.
While not every opportunity you have to talk to others can turn out as well as these gatherings, it is important to keep an open and honest dialogue going to help people understand that there are people around them who may not believe as they do but that you can still have much in common. In so many cases we share the same dreams and goals. While we may not agree on the finer points of some things we all have so much more in common.