Iâ€™ve been asked to speak at an interfaith gathering next month, and Iâ€™d love your help as I prepare my remarks.
Apparently this event happens every year and people come from all over the world to represent their religious traditions. (I only have to drive an hour and a half.) There will be a Shoshone ritual, dinner at a Hindu temple (yum!), a prayer breakfast featuring the work of Harvardâ€™s Pluralism Project, etc. Iâ€™m going to be representing Mormonism on a panel of people from many religious traditions, and weâ€™ve been asked to reflect on the following three questions:
1. What in the scriptures of your faith could be understood by the believers to mean that their faith is the only true faith? What can cause this exclusivist view?
2. What in the scriptures of your faith and writings of your saintly personages promotes true acceptance and embracing othersâ€™ faiths with admiration, love, and respect?
3. What qualities of being do each one of us need to realize in order to be sincerely â€œinterfaith people,â€? who not only voice this effort intellectually, but participate truly in this idea as an interior state of soul?
Iâ€™m well aware of answers to question one, since you canâ€™t turn around in Mormonism without someone talking about being the One True Church, yada yada. Exclusivity is a core of the restored gospel from the First Vision onward, and has been emphasized more than ever in recent years. But there is also a strong strain of inclusivity in Mormon tradition and doctrine, such as the concept of a three-tiered heaven. How would you answer questions two and three? What would you most like to get across about Mormonism to this diverse audience?
I am so enjoying this blog assignment. I went back through some old posts by previous guest bloggers, and was intrigued by Claudia Bushmanâ€™s comment that the discipline of having to write something every day prompted her to reflect more on issues that she might not have delved into otherwise. So true.