Personally, as I have been working in the Alumni in residence program as the campus chaplain, I have been coming to understand that word in a deeper way. One of my contributions here at Pearson is facilitating a group every week called “Life Chats”. It has been around discussions about life and faith. The goal for the group is to have a space to talk about religion and how it plays an effects in relationships, culture, worldview, politics, and more. Within this group we have had perspectives on Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Confucianism, Judaism, Hinduism, and some individuals still forming what they believe.
In light of the current age interfaith relations and dialogue is often an area of tension or avoidance. Each faith practice has a different perspective on the transcendent and also it has its own cultural identity. I remind myself weekly that within most human hearts lies a strong desire for peace and connection. Some of the largest conflicts to religious peace is social and ideological issues.
Many of the students have been able to discuss and acknowledge some of the wounds they have from religion. We often discuss how we can recover that word in our world today at the same time reconcile differing beliefs. How can we use religion as a means of bringing people together? How can understanding one’s beliefs to help develop more respect and equality? These conversations are sounding boards with hopes of preventing the recurrence of division. In creating space for dialogue around religion and diversity, peace is the goal. It is my hope that this peace may have a ripple effect on the world as these students are the next generation.Our differences can make our connections deeper and can create a fuller and richer space to grow. We thrive when we are known and loved. With the Life Chats group we have covered many controversial topics and students have been learning to agree to disagree. They have been learning to respect and more deeply understand other’s religion, spirituality, and practices. It has been beautiful to watch the seeds of peace beginning to be planned within his group as we have shared thoughts, sacred music, quotes, religious art, texts from holy books, personal experience, and most of all forming connection.