Understanding through Faith and Dialogue

Managing Editor’s note: all Contributing Scholars begin writing by answering the following question as their first post: Why are you committed to building relationships with those from different religious or ethical traditions? Their answer to this question is below.

Faith is having a strong belief in someone or something. Faith is what binds religions together. We all have faith in someone or something, whether we call it family, God, the divine, love or humanity. As a person of the Christian faith, I love hearing from others what it is that gives meaning to a person’s life.

My grandmothers are the persons who molded my relationships and developed my passion for other people, particularly the elderly. While interning at a retirement community last year, I loved hearing the wise elders discuss their faith journeys. I encountered people of many religious traditions and found similar themes throughout my visits. One theme, which really resonates, is that we all need to be heard and seen.

Giving others a voice and hearing their stories is what builds bridges and understanding. As a runner during the 2013 Boston Marathon, I am captivated by the Boston Marathon Bombing trial. Yet while listening to the reports of the trial, my runner hat has come off and my faith leader hat is sitting on top. I am consumed and worried about how the Muslim faith is being portrayed because of two young men’s actions. This trial and public criticism is a clear reminder that listening to and interacting with people of different faith and ethical traditions is vitally important to breaking down barriers. We cannot generalize a group of people based on one person’s actions.

As I work to complete my MDiv, I recently took the position of program director at the Massachusetts Bible Society. The Massachusetts Bible Society’s mission is to promote Biblical Literacy. I feel passionately that we need to better educate the public on what scripture says and the context in which it was written. Additionally, understanding the differences in interpretation of varying religious groups from the same text is key to building bridges across religious and ethic traditions. It is through dialogue that we can better understand our own faith and the faith of others.

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