Unity Church sponsors interfaith dialogue.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Religious groups are careening father apart. Original teachings are losing their meaning. Understanding is increasingly rare.
Buddhist oracles, says Harvey Kraft of Monterey, founder of the EverLife Foundation Buddhist Education Center, anticipated this.
“They predicted a decay of the purity of ideas,” he says. “The ancient ideas about the meaning of life would be co-opted by institutional powers.”
Kraft is part of a group, led by Monterey’s Unity Church, that has developed a response. They want to help locals return to a time when, as Kraft says, “wisdom was most important and competition was between visionaries, not governments.”
The Promoting Interfaith Understanding Series is designed to create a dialogue and “appreciative inquiry” between faiths. When he speaks this Sunday, Kraft will be the latest in a lineup that has already included Islamic and Jewish speakers. A Hindu, an African shaman and contemporary spiritual leaders will follow. Each compares and integrates parts of his or her religion into the greater whole. “It’s like hip-hop,” says Kraft. “We’re ‘sampling’ to make a better overall song.”
The philosophy that hatched the series is straightforward, says Unity Pastor Rory Elder, a Native American.
“The idea is to look at the world inclusively and see how to learn and build community,” he says. “My experience has been that people feel these topics are like an elephant in the room. They think you have to give up your beliefs to be a part of that discussion.
“That’s not true—by understanding what makes us similar and unique it strengthens all of us.”
The idea is finding an audience, according to Elder. “Turnout has been good,” he says. “People from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the military, other faiths. They try to get at the truth at its foundation, past the myths.”
THE PROMOTING INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING SERIES continues with Harvey Kraft at Unity Church of Monterey, 601 Madison St., Monterey, Sunday, Oct. 22. A dialogue (11:30am) follows the guest speaker service (10am). 372-0457.