Ok so for The Lebanon Project, I have been asked to spearhead the development of the interfaith dialogue curriculum, which may be televised in Lebanon during our time there (special thanks to IFYC for hooking me up with some supplemental materials). Rather than cut and paste the details of the process, which closely resembles IFYC’s, I thought I would push the idea of the progress of interfaith dialogue through conversations of understanding, and see what you all think of it as a progression:1. Shared Values: This is a typical starting point for most dialogues, and for many, often the ending point as well. This is helpful for building the framework for future conversations. IFYC’s particular curriculum focuses on shared values of service, which is key, but exploration into other shared values can still be beneficial.2. Shared Experiences: Despite varied history, culture, up-bringing, and other factors, everyone can find a similar thematical experience in their life with at least one person, as you engage the group as a whole you may find a web of connections. “LINK!” 😉3. Identifying and Celebrating Differences: At many dialogue events, I found that the facilitators or panelists identified and explored the common values but failed to engage the complexities of the faith traditions. Stopping at such a superficial level denies the participants of the dialogue from accurately reckoning with the depth and complexity of each religion, in their dynamic manifestations of observance. Identifying the differences that exist in religious traditions not only opens the conversation to allowing people to engage themselves in understanding the concepts outside their own. Furthermore, the language and concepts present should not only instruct them on one particular faith tradition, but in fact inform them on a greater level of comprehension of their own faith. It is in this context that the participants will ask questions that they were too embarassed to ask (e.g. “so is communion cannabalism?”). It is only after these questions are addressed that truth growth and understanding can take hold in a great scale.4. Expression of Frustrations: Even with understanding can be frustration. This often time comes in the schism that occurs with dogma, and interpretations of such dogmas used and abused to serve political ends and the like. This definitely won’t be a conversation for the first encounter, but perhaps one after the previous steps have been confronted properly.5. What now? In the highest level, after recognizing similarities in both tradition and experience, identifying and celebrating differences, and reckoning such traditions with our own principles, can the opportunity for change. Not solely for the participants, but what change is needed in our communities, our faiths, our world. What should be the way of the world? how can we get there?There is obvious homage here to the IFYC curriculum, but the formulation of this, and the form I used to make it comes directly out of conversations with my fellow fellow, and now close friend, Soofia Ahmed. I didn’t include the part about listening to Bob Marley lyrics, but we can let them figure that one out on their own… 😉

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