The Interfaith Amigos, ecumenism, and Christmas blessings
December 25, 2009
Yesterday morning I caught part of On Point with Tom Ashbrook, featuring The Interfaith Amigos -- Rabbi Ted Falcon, pastor Don MacKenzie, and sheikh Jamal Rahman. (Later in the day, I listened to the whole show online, because I wanted to hear the whole hour.) Early in the show, Tom Ashbrook asks, what does interfaith mean to you? One of the men (I think it's pastor MacKenzie, though I'm not positive) responds:
I think interfaith means being willing to penetrate the seemingly impenetrable walls that surround each of our traditions, to locate three things: the universals that transcend those boundaries, the things we really have in common... second, the particulars in each of our traditions that support those core teachings; and third, the particulars that don't.
You can listen to the show online here at the On Point website if you're so inclined. It's an excellent radio piece, and a wonderful example of the kind of "deep ecumenism" that I, along with my teachers and colleagues in ALEPH, so value. As my teacher Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi asks, in his book Jewish With Feeling, "How do we engage with fellow seekers in a way that does not water down differences, but treasures them? How do we share our history, celebrations, and spiritual experiences with members of other faiths in a way that is real and deep, rather than just a 'You bring the Easter eggs; I'll bring the matzah' affair?" (I wrote more about that book back in 2005.) These three men seek to answer that question with their work together. As Rabbi Falcon says, "Every authentic spiritual path leads to a shared universal...[and] that universal is not 'owned' by any spiritual path."
At the end of the show, each man was asked to offer a blessing, bearing in mind that the show was airing on the day which would become Christmas eve. In response, Rabbi Falcon speaks about how even for those of us who are not Christian, this can be a time of year to contemplate what we want to birth and to nurture: in our families, in our spiritual lives, and in the world. It's a great blessing, and I want to extend it to all of you.
For those who celebrate Christmas: may your day be merry and bright! And for those who don't, I wish a Friday filled with light and wonder even so.