Congregation

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Methodological Challenges to Measuring Transformation

When I set out on my dissertation research, my main question was whether and how interfaith dialogue functions to transform people. I had a hypothesis that people do interfaith dialogue because when doing it they experience a shift in perspective, behavior, or identity construct. I wanted more detailed data about the transformation that occurs through interfaith […]

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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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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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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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By Barbaricino (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Libro_di_Mormon.JPG

On Irreconcilable Differences: My Interreligious Dialogue with Mormon Missionaries

Since I’m conducting field research on interfaith dialogue in Rome, I thought it would be an important part of my participant-observation to embark upon a dialogue. I met some Mormon sisters conducting missions in Italy, and we gathered on three different occasions to trade our stories, religious commitments, and to talk about our faith. I grew […]

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Photo taken by the author Jenn Lindsay near Piazza di Popolo in Rome.

Pluralismo Vivo: The Interfaith Roads of Rome

It’s not easy to find clear examples of “interreligious violence” in Rome. The closest thing Rome suffers to religious violence are distant shrieks from ISIS across the Mediterranean Sea about “bringing Rome to her knees.” Overt religious conflict requires a more closely balanced religious demographic—and with Italy’s current Catholic-affiliating demographic topping out at 85% (not […]

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By Sri Chinmoy.org (http://www.srichinmoy.org/interfaith) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What Can Interfaith Dialogue Really Do? Part 3 of 3

Read Part I here, and Part II here. When I ate lunch with the rabbi he inveighed against interfaith dialogue and its inability to reach or transform the minds of those who are closed to dialogue. He said, “Interfaith activists say one thing and they do another—they preach transformation and tolerance, but they are already […]

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I_love_Justice_pack_by_cselenka

Justice and Love

“Few realities have determined the course of history more than the choices by which individuals, social groups, and nations have responded to aggression and hatred.”(John Rempel) “Love waits upon justice, and to do justice requires a willingness to use power and even to dirty one’s moral hands.” This is Lisa Sowle Cahill’s summary of Reinhold […]

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By Sri Chinmoy.org (http://www.srichinmoy.org/interfaith) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What Can Interfaith Dialogue Really Do? Part 2 of 3

Read Part I here. At lunch after Purim, I heard the rabbi criticize interfaith projects for being “just another religious group.” I reflected on the irony of a religious clergy person dismissing the bonding function of the interfaith society. If indeed the interfaith society becomes a “religion” of its own, this is no reason to […]

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