Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Blessing to Each Other

Apropos of nothing in particular, here's an interesting photo of a slice of downtown St. Paul, February, 2008.

Last fall the St. Paul Area Council of Churches sponsored a series of evenings of interfaith dialogue on understandings of non-violence in the various Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i. Each evening began with two speakers from a particular faith tradition, and then afterwards there was time for facilitated discussion around our tables of 6-8 people. The conversation was guided by a process developed by Joan Haan and Katherine Wojtan of "Creating a Culture of Peace." It was hosted at various churches, temples, and mosques around the Twin Cities. I was able to get to five of the six evenings in the series, and it was quite an interesting and profound experience.

Since it ended, I have hoped to find some way to continue to engage in and promote interfaith dialogue and bridge-building, but hadn't been able to figure out exactly how to have that happen until last week. Because I had put my name on a list of people interested in being contacted about further efforts, I got an email invitation to join a SPACC planning group that is looking for ways to continue this work, and now I've been to two meetings. Websites and multimedia design are my things, of course, so it looks like those are the main skills I'll be bringing to the process, but I must say I have enjoyed and look forward to more of the great conversation that sincere religious seekers engage in at these encounters as well.

In the meantime, I also got two publications in the mail yesterday from LTP. One is From Desolation to Hope: An Interreligious Holocaust Memorial Service, (ISBN 0-929650-22-0) and the other is A Blessing to Each Other: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Jewish Catholic Dialogue (ISBN 1-56854-104-X). Since I joined the Catholic Church, I have been really surprised at the high level of anti-Semitism there is, sometimes in the most surprising places. Not that it's confined to the Catholics, of course. It pervades Christianity, and not only Christianity, of course, either. Anyway, I'm beginning to see in this the glimmerings of a possible new or additional ministry. To be continued...

Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom HaShoah, is May 1-2 this year.

Thankful today for: the invitation from SPACC; the bright sunshine; ML; a fun dinner out last evening with Dodo, Suzanne and Suzanne's mother; for the St. Paul Jewish Community Center and all the good work it does in our city; for Father Phil's fine homily at STM's mass this morning; for the US Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph.

Holding in prayer today: Governor Pawlenty, Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Sen. Larry Pogemiller, the Minnesota legislators who broke ranks Monday, and all those who have strong and passionate beliefs about the gas tax hike; for easing of Archbishop Nienstedt's pain, grief and anger; for the many retiring priests of our archdiocese; for the people of St. Stephen's; for MK's continued healing, for GL and LK, for healing for AH; for D whose life is in such chaos; for Sisters of St. Joseph in England and Wales.

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