Los Angeles Chapter - Human Dignity and Social Justice for All
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and tribes, that Ye may know each other (Not that Ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you. And God has knowledge and is well acquainted with all things." - The Quran, Sura 49, verse 13
Welcome to the sixth year of Interfaith Cafés!—a concept developed by Kay Lindahl, founder of the Sacred Listening Center http://www.sacredlistening.com/). Interfaith cafés have been used worldwide to promote interfaith dialogue at the grassroots level. One of the things we have learned over the past few years is the value of small group conversations. When we sit together and talk about what's important to us, our world begins to change, we become more alive, we tap into hope. Sewing circles and committees of correspondence helped birth America; Conversations in cafes and salons spawned the French Revolution. Study circles created the massive changes in economic and social policies in northern Europe.
Today we live in one of the most diverse nations in the world. We come from all over the world and we practice a multitude of faith traditions. So to make sure that we all know how to be in this conversation, we have created Cafe Etiquette. There are only three guidelines:
1. Speak from your heart. Use I statements. This conversation is a sharing from our hearts, not a debate, so we invite you to own what you say with your language. Speak from your own experience, not from or for anyone else. Watch for: "everyone knows", "we all know", "of course", use of the word "you".
2.: Listen with respect. For understanding, not to necessarily agree with or believe. You don't have to agree with or believe what someone is saying to listen with respect. This also means no cross-talk and one person speaks at a time.
3. Discover and explore. Listen for patterns, themes, new questions. Notice what's being said instead of rehearsing what you are going to say. Keep an open mind. Be curious about the others. Appreciate the differences.
The format is as follows:
Each small group (limit to 5-10 people) has a cafe host, who has a copy of the etiquette and the questions for the dialogue. We’ll begin with brief introductions, so you'll know who everyone in your circle is, where they are from and their faith tradition or spiritual path. Then the host/facilitator will review the etiquette, state the questions and invite the conversation to begin.
The conversational session will last 40 minutes, which will give everyone time to speak at least once. Out of courtesy, each person should try to limit his/her comments/reflections to approximately two minutes per question. The café host will help to keep the conversation flowing. The group will receive a five-minute warning to complete its conversation. The next five minutes will be your opportunity to notice what happened during the conversation. What themes or patterns emerged? What new questions came up? The final 15 minutes will be spent debriefing the cafe process in the large group. A recorder/reporter from each small group will share what s/she learned with the whole group.
Interfaith Café Format and Questions - Examples
June 26:, 2-5 PM. : International Institute of Tolerance, 305 W. Torrance Blvd, Unit G, Carson, co-host: Baha'i Community. Questions: Who Are You? What religion are you and why? How do you pray/meditate? Why do you pray/meditate? Where do you pray/meditate? What do you expect when you pray/meditate? Does it matter in your religion how you pray/meditate? What is the importance of communal prayer rituals/meditation practices? Do you believe that God or some Higher Power answers your prayers?
July 17, 2-5 PM. : Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living, 907 Knob Hill Ave, Redondo Beach; co-host: Temple Israel .Who Are You? What religion are you and why? Do you see any difference between organized religion and personal faith/spirituality? Do all religions teach the same basic truths or are there significant differences? What do you think is the biggest misperception people have about your religion? How have your views about religion changed over the years, and if so, how and why?
August 21, 2-5 PM. : St. Margaret Mary Catholic, 25511 Eshelman Ave, Lomita, co-host: SGI Buddhist. Questions: Who Are You? What religion are you and why? What does your religion say about peace? How does your religion help you to deal with conflict nonviolently in your family, workplace, and community? How does your religion affect how you take a stand on issues relating to social justice and peace?
To read about the guidelines for each cafe hosting congregation, please click the link below.