Interfaith Dialogue, So What?

Clara (my five-year-old) and I attended the annual SW Washington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service last week, along with a few others from my Quaker congregation. Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Baha’is, Mormons, Episcopalians, Catholics, First Nations, and a few others, I’m sure, were also represented.

What impressed me most about the experience was the repeatedly stated concern for the people of our region and world. What impressed Clara most were the flute-playing and complimentary cookies.

The point of this gathering seemed to go beyond “how neat of us to all be together in one room!” Not that this isn’t important. Such gatherings can be a witness to the possibility of peace and mutual respect absent when differing religious traditions (or ugly imitations of them) pick on one another, whether through nasty words or mass murder.

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Why Christians Should Speak Less About Rights

“They can’t do that; I have a right…”

Replace “they” with an enemy, substitute the encroachment of your choice for “that”, and finish the sentence how you like. This template for a common lament can be enfleshed in myriad ways. Many of which do not seem to mirror the way of Jesus.

It’s not that Christians should not care about others’ safety, freedom, or dignity. But the language of rights, while potentially a mechanism for care and protection and respect and arguably a legal necessity, is too often co-opted by persons speaking out of a sense of entitlement, self-centeredness, and anxiety. Christians can do better.

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Why the Virtue of Our Leaders Matters

Should Christians expect our leaders to be virtuous? Absolutely. Whether you lead our country or lead our churches, the burden of virtue ought to be placed upon you. Three reasons for this come to mind.

1. Virtues are more sustainable than promises to constituents, advocacy for causes, or stances on issues.

For one, leadership is so alluring to some that the means—even pandering promises or elaborate deception—justify the ends. Our leaders often tell us what we want to hear to secure their role, maybe even convincing themselves of what they are saying.

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