Commentary: Different Faiths Come Together

November 14, 2008

Author: Kristina Herrndobler

Source: The Houston Chronicle

What does mopping the floor have to do with interfaith dialogue? A lot, when you are hosting strangers of various faiths to your home for dinner.

And so, in preparation for our Amazing Faiths Project Dinner Dialogue, one of 68 that occurred Thursday night in Houston, my husband and I cleaned the house and had a passing conversation about how we should have hung the drapes weeks ago.

When the doorbell started ringing at 6:30 p.m., all was good enough — and the smell of vegetarian lasagna and freshly baked (by the store) bread greeted our guests.

My role as co-hostess was coming together. My job as the evening’s moderator was just beginning.

I observed a dinner last year, so I knew the importance of creating a safe space. For people of all faiths and people of no faiths to feel equally respected and welcomed, I’d need to set the night’s ground rules: No one would challenge another’s beliefs; no one would evangelize; no one would criticize; no one would interrupt. We would all just listen as each person read a question from the deck of dialogue cards and shared his or her experiences with the Ultimate (or without the Ultimate, depending).

Over the next three hours, we heard about family conflicts caused by religion, one’s feeling of total abandonment by God and the discrimination another had suffered because of her faith. We also heard about a miraculous recovery and a hunch that God was leading the way.