In a culture that elevates a “winner takes all” approach to life, it is often hard to have “common ground conversations.” Most of our conversations quickly de-escalate into a “who is right, or here is why you’re wrong” type which serves to insert a strong halt to the topic(s). This is acutely seen when it comes to religion, right? Many feel religion is the source of all conflict, Marx believed it to be the opiate of the people, others wonder which one is right, and each one thinks their belief is the right belief.
While surrounded by religions today, we tend to live religiously illiterate lives preferring a 140 character understanding, or better yet an amazing Facebook meme.
Our knowledge concerning the belief systems of others runs only as deep as our tweets. This creates fear, hate, antagonism and worse.
I am excited about a new conversation I am starting at Snoqualmie Valley Alliance this weekend called Common Ground. We will be looking into seven religions that seem to have the most power and influence in the world today. My goal is to focus on the truth that exists between us rather than simply illuminate our differences. When we find areas of common ground we expand our understanding beyond our personal bias or a great tweet. We are able to experience a greater level of community with our neighbors who think and believe differently than we do. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul first sought to find common ground with people, and the result was a radically changed world.
I believe that when we have a better understanding of other religions, we become more confident of our own faith. This removes the fear, hostility, and animosity that is created by a lack of understanding. In its place we will experience a new level of grace, humility and compassion…and boy, does our world need more of that.