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Can We Get Real? Authentic Interfaith Truth-Telling & the Burning of Black Churches

“Why does it take a tragedy to bring us all together?” Rev. Terry McCray Hill of Bethel AME Church in Portland, Oregon asked this question the day after the Charleston massacre. We gathered, standing room only, into the hot, crowded sanctuary of Bethel AME and one by one, stood, naming our faith community to affirm […]

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Same-Sex Marriage and Slippery Slopes

In his dissent to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts offers a familiar ‘slippery slope’ argument. Slippery slope arguments offer a very narrow picture of reasoning as proceeding from principles to cases. But this picture of reasoning is not inevitable: it is possible to be more sure about your intuitions than you are about your principles.

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Taken by the author at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

Choice and Safety: Required Ingredients for Interfaith Progress

Classic “contact theory” predicts that diverse societies automatically bring about tolerance. I argued against this idea here when I discussed how proximity generally exacerbates the anxiety of difference, and fails to disconfirm negative stereotypes when people see—but do not understand—their differences. If your goal is increasing tolerance and civic cooperation, it is not enough just […]

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Generalizations Are Never Defensible. Or Is This an Indefensible Generalization?

Figuring out how to talk about religion, especially in boundary crossing contexts, can be a struggle. Isn’t that part of what we are trying to do at State of Formation–figure out the how of interfaith as much as actually doing interfaith? One of my biggest struggles writing about interbelief just feels trite. Sometimes. And sometimes […]

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Photo taken by the author at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions.

What Is the Unity of “Unity in Diversity”?

Notwithstanding the prizing of diversity, there IS some unified bottom line to interfaith dialogue. Nonviolent behavior is the basis for “unity in diversity.” Behavior is a category about which all parties participating in a dialogue must actually be on the same page. A behavioral covenant of nonviolence is necessary to contain and maintain an interfaith engagement, […]

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Inclusion and Dialogue During Ramadan

The holy month of fasting for Muslims, called Ramadan, is finally here and there has never been more media publicity about it. Have you noticed how even mainstream news publications are writing about Ramadan these days? From photo essays of fasting scenes around the world, to op-eds about what it means to fast and how […]

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If You’re Sad About Charleston, Do Something

Recently someone asked me: “What would your community look like if it loved black people?” A few answers came to me, but the first and last answer was, “I don’t know and I want to know.” I want to know. I want to be alive when that becomes reality. I have heard confusion from people […]

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Source: Alex Proimos (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Inclusion in the Orthodox Jewish Community

This article is adapted from the thesis I wrote for my Master’s in Religious Studies from NYU, dealing with how to more fully include gay and lesbian Orthodox Jewish people into Orthodox congregations and communities as equal participants. I found my interview subjects through contacting Jewish Queer Youth, one of the support groups for gay […]

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taken by the author on December 5th, 2009 at the Parliament for the Word's Religions in Melbourne, Austalia.

Romantic Distance vs. Vexing Proximity: the difficulty of real up-close interfaith encounters

My research on interreligious dialogue and engagement has reinforced an old cliché: absence makes the heart grow fonder. When two people are distant from each other, it is easy to idealize each other. It is easy to recall them enshrouded in mists and to dream of an incandescent, ecstatic reunion. It is easy to gleefully […]

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Charleston: #BlackLivesMatter This Ramadan

I logged onto Facebook Tuesday night, about to post a “Ramadan Mubarak!” wish for all my Muslim friends. And then, scrolling down my news feed, I saw it—the news that a white man had entered a black church in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and opened fire, killing nine people. “Terrorism,” one of my friends […]

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