Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mike: Closing Comments

Do you remember the genesis of "Mount and Mountain?" We fell to talking about how we might partner to write about the Ten Commandments and The Sermon on the Mount. We knew, I think, what we did not want to attempt: yet another doctrinal study, diatribe, or something suitable only for academics. Instead, we wanted to practice and model a genuine conversation between two friends from quite different yet historically intertwined religious traditions.

At some point in the conversation, one of us mentioned reading the collected letters of a well known author from another era. Many of the letters featured the author's ongoing conversations with close friends. The conversations ranged over a host of topics. Each matter received serious treatment. Sometimes the author or his correspondent changed their minds in light of a given argument. More often, they simply enriched one another's thought and deepened their understanding and appreciation for one another.

We knew we had found our model. So began the exchange which became Mount and Mountain.

I've learned a few things along the way.

First, I believe you're correct. Trusted friends reading, wrestling with, and commenting on each other's sacred texts may prove to be the most fruitful model for interfaith conversation in the years to come. For one thing, friendship may enable us to hear some things we would rather not hear! Perhaps friendship should become the prerequiste to interfaith conversation.

Second, our two voices did emerge and take on consistency, even as we sought to remain open to one another's insights. We often discovered that we have much in common, especially with regard to the power of story, ethical and other practical applications of a given text, and recognition of the complexity of humans. Differences also emerged, ranging from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to how hard to press a metaphor.

Third, I suspect our respect for and knowledge of one another's traditions grew. The journey taught us, I think, that we need one another's perspective(s)if we are to find our way through our complicated lives and complex world.

Thank you, Rami, for investing so much of yourself in the conversation. No doubt, the two of us will continue the conversatin, albeit in other ways.


TheNote said...

Closing Comments? Then its time for me to thank you - because your conversations have helped me along the way - you've given me enough guidance to step out and try interfaith offerings in my own community - I know I have company along the way - because the two of you have been kind enough to keep your considerings open to those of us listening . . . maybe I've been like the person one table over in a coffee house, sometimes I pretend I'm sitting right there beside you, taking notes, asking questions when i needed clarification - that's all - just thank you from one of the listeners.

Mike Smith and Rami Shapiro said...

This is precisely what we hoped when we chose to hold our conversation in public. Thank you for taking the journey with us.