Sunday, October 01, 2006

Building Communities

I'm starting a new group.

Three or four weeks ago I attended a party (/ meeting/ brainstorming session), where the host had invited a couple of dozen people of varied backgrounds and interests to enjoy a very nice dinner and good conversation. He called the event "Creating Authentic Connection to Create World Peace". A mouthful of a name, and I couldn't guess what it exactly meant at first, but as they talked, the rest of the attendees seemed to be interested in contributing to World Peace in rather creative ways. I was interested too. The host was encouraging each of us to think of ways to become leaders in bringing people of common interests to do things together and get to know each other well. The premise is that we would be building communities made up of diverse people who still have common interests. These interest could be almost anything. ... Different sports, cooking, enjoying nature, .. etc. As I sat there listening, the thought that came to my mind for when my turn came, was to start a group that discusses religion, and related issues.

I explained my idea to the group, and I was happy to see that there were five or six people who were interested. They represented Christian, Jewish, Baha'i and Hindu. Good start.

My email invitation was probably a bit too short notice, and of the four that almost made it to the meeting, only two were able to. Others replied that they would make more of an effort to come to future meetings.

Two people discussing religion over a friendly dinner (served by yours truly) wasn't bad at all. It gave us a very good chance to get a bit deep in some topics, which might not have happened if we had more people (considering the dynamics of larger groups, and how everyone needs to be given a turn to talk, making the time per person, shorter and more limited).

Among other topics discussed, was the question of whether it is as valid as anything else for one's choice of religion to be determined by factors such as place of birth, the time of birth (which century), and the religion of the parents (either natural, or adoptive). For example, growing up Muslim if you were born in Saudi Arabia, Jew if you were born in Bethlehem in the year 50 B.C. (but Muslim or Christian if you were born in 1930 A.D.), Lutheran if you were born in South Korea and were adopted at age two and a half by a family from Minnesota, U.S.A., but Catholic if your new parents are from Argentina.

I myself can think of more than one answer, but if you chance upon my humble blog and read this, please let me know what you think.

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