Sunday, November 18, 2007

Interfaith Burnout?

I've been involved for some time in ecumenical and interfaith activities -- at a local level. I've served as president of an interfaith clergy association; have been a board member and am currently board president of an interfaith center serving our local university. And finally, I've been trying to start up an interfaith group here in Lompoc.
I'm not certain how my old clergy group is doing, but I'm finding that the other ventures I'm involved with are struggling to find themselves. So, I'm wondering: is there an interfaith burnout happening? Are we more focused on our own communities and less inclined to reach out across any so-called boundaries? There is a lot of competitiveness in the religious community, and I do find that the people most interested in getting involved in interfaith "stuff" are people who aren't involved in a distinctive community of faith.
What I'd like to do is pose the question. What's happening in your community? Is it difficult to get people out for either ecumenical or interfaith activities?

1 comment:

Fr Chris said...

I think many people -- especially younger people -- are looking to a different approach, one that is probably better described as pluralism or ecumenism than "interfaith", which so easily devolves in a kind of universal spirituality that is both uninspiring and ultimately disrespectful to the particular traditions. (As a campus minister, I had to deal with a historical interfaith component to our ministry that had succeeded in alienating not only Christians, but Jews and Pagans as well.)

I helped plan the first ProgFaithBlogCon, which involved bloggers from many faith traditions. Instead of trying to develop "interfaith" worship experiences (which at least in my experience are rarely prayerful), we all tried to participate as much as possible in the worship practices of others. I was stuck in France at the last minute, so I didn't get to attend, but all the accounts that came out of it sound like this model was a huge success.

But of course it also involves huge risk and vulnerability -- I'm especially aware of that as a Christian, knowing that our worship practices are tied to some terrifying history for people of some other faiths.