The Gospel of Interfaith: Building religious literacy, pluralism, and the Kingdom of God

ORDINARY LIFE - Thoughts and Ideas to Help You Live a Happier Life

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Summary for April 23, 2017

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Dear Folks -

Bill is continues on his pilgrimage this week and for the new few weeks.  You can read about his adventures by clicking, "St. Nicholas Pilgrimage".

There is an Ordinary Life happy hour this coming Friday, April 28, at the home of Bill and Margaret Bingham, from 6:30 PM until 8 PM.  Their address is 7618 Brae Acres Ct, Houston, 77074.

Please bring a beverage of your choice and an appetizer to share.  I hope to see you there.

If you were unable to attend Ordinary Life this last Sunday, you missed an informative, wide ranging, and thoroughly compelling presentation by the Rev. Gregory Han.  Greg is the Director of Interfaith Relations at Interfaith Ministries and his presentation was titled

The Gospel of Interfaith: Building religious literacy, pluralism, and the Kingdom of God

Greg began with a history of Interfaith Ministries and the services it provides.  Interfaith Ministries (IM) has two essential areas of focus:  Meals on Wheels and refugee resettlement services.

The statistics Greg provided show just what an impact IM has in our Houston community. More than 1.5 million meals were delivered last year by the Meals on Wheels program.  Four thousand seniors are served daily. More than 15,000 household items donated to those who have need.  And even senior's pets are not forgotten; more than 42 tons of pet food were distributed.

IM served 2,100 refugees in 2015.  Resettlement services include obtaining housing and furniture, equipping a basic household, assisting refugees in finding employment, and ensuring that children are enrolled in school.  94 percent of refugees transitioned by IM become self sufficient with the first six months.

Greg spoke of IM's outreach efforts to build an interfaith community, including dinner dialogues, youth services. visiting houses of worship, and providing speakers and resources throughout the community.

Greg stressed the importance of good interfaith relations in the Houston community by taking a quote from John Kerry, former Secretary of State, who said, "In fact, if I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that's how integrated [religion] is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today."

Greg moved on to provide fascinating insights into the makeup of Houston and the surrounding area in terms of its population, ethnicity, and religious makeup, followed by photographs of some of the many of the temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques in the Houston area.  I highly recommend that you view the slide deck on the Ordinary Life website (under Podcasts).

Greg moved on to discuss what is meant by "religious literacy", operating under the thesis that we, in the United States, "Lack basic information and ENGAGEMENT skills in religion and culture that we would not tolerate in other academic disciplines."

Greg presented a short clip from the movie "Baraka" (meaning "blessing" or "breath of life") that provided an utterly absorbing view of spiritual practice in many faiths.  You can see the clip at 

Greg then posed the questions, "Why are we religious" and "Why study religion" and, of course, he had at least a partial answer to those questions, revealed in his talk, and in his presentation deck.

Greg closed his presentation with "Six Approaches to Studying Religion", including the "supernatural" approach, the "dimensional" approach, the "functional" approach, the "phenomenological" approach, the "confessional" approach, and the "empathetic" approach.

Greg's closing words relate to spiritual practice:  Practice radical curiosity, reflect, let the other define, compare best with best, and practice "holy envy".

And to conclude, Greg showed one more clip from Baraka, this time, the "Kecak Monkey Chant" from a group of tribesmen in Bali.  You can view the clip here.

Greg spoke from the heart; hence, there is no prepared text.  However, I highly recommend that you view Greg's presentation slides (below), as they provide a great deal of insight into the talk he gave.

The audio of Greg's presentation is also available, below.

In Bill's words:

Be well and much love,

Wayne Herbert

To view the presentation slides, click here.

Both of the clips below are amazing and meditative.

To view the first clip from the movie, "Baraka", click here.

To view the Monkey Dance clips from the movie, "Baraka", click here.

To download or listen to the audio version, use the link below.