A word or two about this group....
Some of you may remember the effort to get this baby off the ground back in the DU2 days. The purpose was to have a place where people could talk, civilly and tolerantly, about issues of faith without having to defend their beliefs or engage in back-in-forth arguments about religious traditions or the "validity" of their views.
The SOP does not yet reflect the full purpose of the group; suffice it to say that all are welcome if they aren't mean, don't try to goad/bait, and aren't here to disrupt. If you want to talk about what Easter or Passover means to you, or your memories of religious observances, or the new Pope's biography, without snark or insult, this is the place.
This is the draft SOP that was submitted just a while ago:
The Interfaith Group is a "safe haven" group that provides opportunities for people of all faiths, spiritual leanings and non-belief to discuss religious topics and events in a positive and civil manner, with an emphasis on tolerance. Criticisms of individual beliefs or non-belief, or debates about the existence of higher power(s) are not appropriate in this group. Those who wish to challenge or criticize beliefs should avoid this group in favor of the more free-wheeling Religion Group.
I hope everyone will acknowledge the purpose of this group as a place for polite and reasoned discourse, and leave the arguments as to "Who's RIGHT" at the door or take them to a group where challenges are expected and battles are, if not relished, expected.
& everyone who made this possible.
I'm here to read, discuss & deepen my understanding of the crazy world offline.
Just in time for the many vernal religious celebrations, too!
I'd like to suggest some changes to the SOP. Off the top of my head -
The Interfaith Group is a safe haven group for discussing the roles of various religious and spiritual practices in our lives. All are welcomed here - believers, non-believers, agnostics, atheists or interested DUers who want to participate in the discussion. We support everyone's input within a tolerant, civil and respectful framework. Welcome to the Interfaith Group!
(on edit) Wanted to add some ideas for the SOP discussion. I'm not tied to a final result, per se, yet I enjoy the process. And WSC.
(on edit) Changed "curious DUers" to "interested DUers"
I don't think we want to limit our discussions here to "various religious and spiritual practices"--that is a rather narrow charge that would stifle conversation. I think the "religious topics and events" umbrella in the OP is a bit broader; it allows people to talk about things that aren't specifically "practices" but are related to religion (a recent topic of interest might be, say, the biography of the new Pope--no "practices" there, but it's related to religion in that the guy is the head of one of the world's largest religions).
I also do think it is important to specify, plainly, in the SOP, that this isn't a "belief challenging" forum (Criticisms of individual beliefs or non-belief, or debates about the existence of higher power(s) are not appropriate in this group. Those who wish to challenge or criticize beliefs should avoid this group in favor of the more free-wheeling Religion Group). We already have a group where "belief challenging" is permitted, and as new people come to DU--as they do--it's important to let them know what's out of bounds in a safe-haven group, and where they can go if they want to discuss challenges to people's beliefs. We can't expect them to know the rules without a bit of a rulebook, and that's what the SOP is supposed to do--lay out the general guidelines for what's appropriate in the group. Also, how can a jury hide "inappropriate" conduct if there are no guidelines or prohibitions in the SOP?
If you read the SOP for the "Religion" Group, you'd never know it could get as "cage match-ish" as it sometimes does. It welcomes everyone to discuss religious and theological issues. It reads like the bylaws for the Garden Club! Who would ever expect to see some of the acrimony we've seen over the years in a group with a SOP that reads thusly?
Discuss religious and theological issues. All relevant topics are permitted. Believers, non-believers, and everyone in-between are welcome.
The OP SOP draft for this group also welcomes all DUers of tolerance and good will (people of all faiths, spiritual leanings and non-belief) but it also makes it very clear what is out of bounds. I do think that needs to be in the SOP, plainly stated, not just to guide posters, but also, because if it isn't, there's no difference between this group and Religion. I also think it's important to let people know that DU isn't censoring them; and that there is another group where challenges and criticisms to individual's beliefs are appropriate, but just that this group isn't the place for that.
I am worried that discussion would be too stifled if it was totally off limits.
I wonder if a better emphasis might be on a tone of civility, rather than keeping challenge completely off the table.
you might be OK. You know what is in your heart, as I said upthread.
"I used to believe 'x'....but then I came to realize that the people who believed that are ignorant fools with their heads up their behinds, so I decided to cast my lot with 'y' instead, " is probably not the sort of thing that would be appreciated here at all.
"I came to believe "x" after I read (this book) and (that book) and talked to (this person)" would probably not raise any hackles at all. That's a personal journey and it doesn't play this "This is good but THAT sucks" game.
The Religion Group is still available if you want to say "I was a ...... for years, and one day I woke up and realized that my entire POV was bullshit, so I abandoned it in favor of ....."
If you're hurting anyone's feelings with your comments, this just isn't the place for that kind of thing.
If you want to spout anti-theist stuff, then I suggest you take it to the Religion group, where "raising a child to be Catholic is worse than child abuse" is considered perfectly acceptable (and saying "that is a bigoted viewpoint" is not.)
No, you have a forum for "challenging" belief. Do it there.
I think she is just exploring the question of how much we talk about our own beliefs or lack of beliefs would be appropriate here.
I would really like it if this group were not a place where other groups or members are called out. It would be great if it remained an overall positive place.
But I do want to make clear my belief that this forum is not for the sort of religion-bashing that the Religion forum seems to see.
I would wish that it could be a place where people of all beliefs or lack of beliefs are welcome and respected.
Indeed, I can well understand why some people are atheists. If I wanted to, I could write a really forceful book on exactly what is wrong with the Catholic Church.
Is there much to dislike about the Catholic Church? Certainly. I could recommend Garry Wills' Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit for some examples. (I know Garry, and while I don't agree with everything he says -- and I have discussed his book with him at length -- I do agree with much of it.)
As a Catholic, I am just as outraged as anyone else about pedophile priests and the bishops who cover up their crimes. But how can I let the horrific actions of a few drive me from a tradition I find that, at its core, has beauty?
Do the actions of corrupt politicians shake my faith in democracy, whose core idea is that every person has a voice in government? No. I have more faith in it than that. When the economy dips, do I pull my money out of the bank and hide it in my mattress? No. I have more faith in the process than that.
The very basic core of the Catholic tradition is this: The Creator, something bigger and grander than us, who made the sunsets and the mountains and the stars (whether directly or through natural processes... it doesn't matter) looks upon imperfect humans, who kill and hurt each other, greedily locking ourselves away instead of sharing our talents and resources with everyone for the greater good, have the potential to possess a beauty within us. God looked upon that beauty with a love incomprehensible and decided to insert himself into human history by sending his son to live, suffer, and die just like one of us. He did that so that we could feel that love with the Creator for all of eternity. He told us that we could live forever in those loving arms of the Father if only we embrace that love not only for him, but for each other as well. I believe it was that love that gave life back to this Jesus of Nazareth.
That's my paraphrase. Note that there is nothing in there about popes or bishops or priests. But ask any pope or bishop or priest, or any of us who find that beautiful hope real, and we will tell you the same (more or less. Many will just quote John 3:16 from the Bible, but it's much the same message). It is that beauty and hope of that love that makes me a believer.
It is also a reality that nobody is perfect. Some are even down right monstrous. But that core message never changes. My faith in that message rides out the bumpy times, like when I ride out the bumpiness in the economy, or the times when my trust in my fellow humans falters, as when a corrupt politician is uncovered. Deep down, the core message of love and freedom is pure and true for me.
When I am angry, I yell and shout. I hold errant priests and bishops responsible for their acts. But nothing they do can shake the fact that I still view that love and beauty between myself and my God. It makes me angry that the arrogance of a few to hold on to power. Most of us Catholics simply separate the crap from the beauty, and go on, like we have for nearly two millennia, recognizing the crap (and we Catholics have produced a LOT of crap) but trying every day to celebrate the beautiful things with each other.
For those who would have me go elsewhere, I respond with Peter, "Lord, where shall we go?" My trust, my faith, my love is in Jesus, the sacraments, the traditions of the Catholic Church. It is a faith that calls me. Yes, there are evil people in it. Evil people get into everything. The Catholic Church is an oligarchy. It is not that I love.
But how can I give up Ignatius Loyola and his spiritual exercises? How can I give up Francis of Assisi's love for the poor and all of God's creation? How can I give up the beauty I see in Theresa of Avila's writing? Or turn my back on Cardinal Newman? If I give up Roman Catholicism, I give up all that and much more.
Yes, I know that Cardinal Law et al have acted in ways that disgrace the Church. Many of the current leaders of the Institutional Church are corrupt thugs, from the parish right up to the Vatican.
This is nothing new. Torquemada torturing people to save their souls, popes preaching crusades, Pius XII remaining silent on the Holocaust and then pretending he wasn't, the whole career of St Cyril of Alexandria, the blatant anti-Semitism of St John Chrysostom, etc, etc, etc ad nauseam. The Church is subject to the mischievousness, sinfulness, and frailty of its members and leaders.
But the Church is more than just the institution. It is a fellowship of the people of God, the Body of Christ. Vatican II's document on the Church has a helpful phrase, "The Church, or in other words, the kingdom of Christ now in mystery, grows visibly in the world through the power of God." The Church is, in T S Eliot's phrase from "The Dry Salvages", "The point of intersection of the timeless with time."
In the Nicene Creed, we proclaim that the Church is "holy". This refers to the power of sanctification that heals and justifies in the face of our unholiness. The medieval theologian Albert the Great, commenting on this part of the Creed, said
This article must therefore be traced back to the work of the Holy Spirit, that is, to "I believe in the Holy Spirit", not in himself alone ... but also as far as his work is concerned, which is to make the Church holy. He communicates that holiness in the sacraments, the virtues, and the gifts that he distributes in order to bring holiness about, and finally in the miracles and graces of a charismatic type such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, the discernment of spirits, healing, prophecy, and everything else that the Spirit gives in order to make the holiness of the Church manifest. Thus, the Church does not claim holiness because its members, individually or collectively, are holy. The Church's holiness is an expression of divine love that will not be defeated by our willfulness and weakness. God's covenant is not a contractual arrangement that ceases when we sin, it abides despite everything.
Ephesians 2:20-22 describes the Church as "members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is held together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God."
The Church as Body of Christ makes the holiness of God a reality in the world. The Church's holiness is inseparable from Jesus' holiness, and the Church manifests its holiness in much the same way in which Jesus manifested his. Living in the world, Jesus drew sinners -- tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, thieves -- to himself. Although they were not always fully able to respond to Jesus' call for repentance, they were attracted to his promise of mercy and forgiveness. The taproot of the Church's holiness is not to be found in its attempts to flee from the world into some never-never land untouched by impurity, compromise, or corruption. Rather, it is in embracing Jesus, through whom God embraces the world.
To I agree with Martin Luther, Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders. Gott hilfe mir! -- "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me!"
and I'm a theist, so it is not about that either.
Sometimes just asking asking questions about another's belief can seem to be a challenge. I think it ought to be allowed as long as it is polite and civil, that's all.
We all come from different spiritual perspectives, and sometimes one of us may simply not understand the perspective of the other.
Vigorous discussion has often helped me clarify what I think. But saying what I think is just stupid superstition, childish, or that God is simply a silly fantasy, is not helpful. I will enjoy being challenged, but not having ideas ridiculed by sarcasm.
So I hope that there is some quick clarification of the ground rules
I think we're in for some interesting interfaith developments and it will be nice to be have a place to discuss them. Recommending and subscribing.
I think if we all approach our "Interfaith" conversations as though we're sitting across from one another, we'll have no trouble staying civil, if not downright friendly.
There are interesting days ahead, I'm sure! Looking forward to "seeing" you around!
People and not religion.
Whatever metaphysical tools help you become a better person is something that we should support.
There's been a fits-n-starts movement to get this ship underway for some time, now, and at last, here we are. Once it happened, it happened quickly!
As far as people go, the idea is certainly to be decent to one another, and not insult or mock the personal beliefs of individuals.
Elsewhere on DU, and not just those groups where we would expect this kind of behavior, mocking and ridicule are considered almost "sacred rights" of those that "converse" that way. And, it seems to be more about having an argument or fight than having a simple discussion.
A kind of personal definition I have for this is that an argument is meant to be won. Whereas a discussion is more about learning or even teaching, such that all parties walk away having learned something about the others, hopefully positive
Exactly. I hope we have a lot of discussions here!
I think we could learn a thing or two from the Cooking and Baking folks. They get along great, and the focus is on HELPING one another, which is why it is a fun group to visit. That's another group where I have learned a thing or two!
Over at C and B, I've never seen a single "You IDIOT!! Why are you using those CERAMIC pans--cast iron is the ONLY way to go!" followed by a "Cast IRON? What are you, a dinosaur? The only thing those are good for is beating your game to death before you roast it!!!" type conversation, yet those are all too common on other parts of the board.
However, it was all in fun, none of it serious. What was even more fun was learning later in GD that one of those conservatively obsessive boards that "Watch" us had taken our mock fighting about how to clean cast iron seriously! It was a hoot reading their comments about our "stupidity!"
I do love C&B, and most any of the other groups that are all about helping one another. It will happen here, too
I can just picture the drama...!!!!!
Grrr, grrr--a paper towel and some elbow grease!!! Nothing MORE!!
Sometimes you have to go to the plastic scrubby and a little bit of water....otherwise those burnt-on chunks just won't break free!!!
Awww, ya crybabies--burn the crap off...carbonize it!!! Wassamatta wit' you?
No group of cooks has ever tried to pass laws mandating that no one should be allowed to use any pans except what THEY think are the "right" ones. Or would ever even consider such a thing. Groups of religious believers do that (all the time, in fact), hence the greater contentiousness from those who don't share their views or welcome the attempt to impose them.
My pan example was a joke, not an example or analogy--I was talking about civility and polite behavior in groups. In C and B, there really isn't a lot of fighting about pans or anything else, people are supportive, positive and helpful (which is what we hope for in this protected safe-haven group), as compared to "free wheeling" groups where arguments and contentiousness about the "rightness" of beliefs are more appropriate. There are places to be contentious about issues of faith, this just isn't one of 'em.
that the people in C&B have no need for or tendency towards contentious arguments, so why can't it be that way in a lot of other places? Since this IS a religiously themed room, and since you have stated a lack of such contentiousness as one of your standards here, it seemed only natural to infer that you intended an analogy.
In C/B, they just don't choose to--they help one another. It makes the place a very nice group. I learn a little something everytime I go over there, too.
People do things differently, see things differently, but no one need be told they are wrong and no teams need be formed.
Hope to drop in from time to time to see what all is going on. I really dislike the vitriol in so many religious discussions at DU.
I have always enjoyed being in the same room as you.
but is discussing how we get to what we believe, the thought behind it, our sources for our beliefs to be out of bounds here.
(and this is just my personal view) that it's all about where your heart is. If your heart is in the right place, and your post doesn't mock. criticize, or infringe upon the beliefs of others here, you'll probably be fine. If you are speaking of your personal journey, I think you are on reasonably firm ground.
That said, if part of your journey involves suggesting that you or others are or were stupid or mistaken for holding since-discarded views, maybe that sort of conversation would be a better fit for the "free wheeling" Religion Group.
In general, I think if we all try to speak as though we are talking to the person we care about most in the world, who does not happen to share our views on this particular topic, we'll be OK.
Am I making sense?
I don't, I believe B and this is why. We all think what we believe is right or we wouldn't believe it but we can discuss how and why we all believe what we believe without the I'M RIGHT YOU' RE WRONG AND STUPID endings. If that's part of what we can find here great I'm all for it. It's just a matter of self discipline and civility and respect for each other.
really enjoy finding out how people got where they are. What I don't enjoy is those that say that where they are is the only meaningful or rational place to be.
Tolerance. My hope is that this will be about tolerance and building understanding and tolerance to achieve shared goals, no matter what drives us each individually.
I am also highly interested in the role of religion in both national and international politics.
people avoid invalidating faith or the object of faith, that should be OK. The religion group is the place to argue that faith and it's manifestations are out of place or harmful in today's culture.
I'm interested in all faiths, both the doctrine and the rites. I'm really interested in how they impact the people of those faiths - the traditions and holidays and family celebrations. And as individuals, too. How deeply is the connection felt and is it in daily life, or mainly holy days, that kind of thing.
thank you! I look forward to many interesting discussions and POVs.
I posted a thread in Welcome & Help to garner more hits and interest in the group. Spread the word if you feel like it, and welcome to the group!