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After 9/11: A rabbi, pastor, and imam join hands to oppose extremism

Brought together by 9/11, three friends – a rabbi, a pastor, and an imam – work together to find and appreciate the spiritual resources present in all of their faith traditions.

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9/11 laid bare the truth that religious literacy is critical in a multi-religious society. Some entered interfaith dialogue and collaboration with suspicion, but by using their own beings as living laboratories they came to a stunning realization: Interfaith is not about conversion but about completion, about becoming a more complete human being. By being open to the wisdom of other traditions, they deepened their roots in their own traditions.

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This effect has led to a significant number of people declaring and practicing what I call a “major and a minor” faith tradition. Looking at an object from different angles gives one a clearer view. Practicing a major and minor creates friendships with the other, and this can lead to epiphanies. A retired missionary who had been sent to combat the “alarming” number of Islamic converts in Africa confided to me, “What a waste of time! I wish I had spent my time becoming more Christ-like and less Caesar-like.” This reminded me of my own spiritual teacher, who criticized Muslim zealots bent on converting others. Trying to impose our religion on another makes us like the well-meaning monkey who plucks a fish out of the water to save it from a watery grave!

From us all:

Our core teachings call us to a spirituality of inclusivity – a spirituality that supports us in walking oneness, love, and compassion into the world we share. In a world splintered by polarization, it is this very inclusive spirituality that we need if we are to bring true political, economic, and social healing to our world.

Rabbi Ted Falcon is the co-founder of Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue in Seattle, where he served as rabbi for 16 years. Pastor Don Mackenzie retired in June of 2008 as minister and head of staff of University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. Imam Jamal Rahman is co-founder and Muslim Sufi minister at Interfaith Community Church in Seattle and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. Together, they are the authors of Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Rabbi, a Pastor, and a Sheikh.

This article original appeared at "Yes!" an online magazine.

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