April 7, 2011 in Featured Question of the Week, How can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world (or community) of many religions?, Question of the Week by Sally Jones Heinz
How can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world (and community) of many religions?
If we try to believe our way into embracing a pluralistic world, we will likely fail. Believing engages more than our minds, but to a large extent it does involve accepting ideas that can be stated as propositions. Their opposites, according to logic, cannot be true. We may run from beliefs that challenge ours or try to synthesize them into one cosmic theology. But neither of these responses to pluralism brings us closer to being the vitally connected community of hope and faith that we yearn to enjoy in our strife-torn world.
In a discussion last month in Memphis, Marcus Borg explained that the Greek, Latin, and Middle English etymology of “believe” is “belove.” When we look at belief this way, it becomes less about assertions and more about actions, less about mind and more about heart. Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community is one where agape love, put into action, allows all to share in the abundance of the earth. It is not marked by absence of conflict but by creative use of the energy of our distinct and passionate beliefs.
Dr. King’s assassination was the impulse for MIFA’s birth, and his ideals are our legacy. From the beginning until now MIFA has been a place which welcomes all people to embody their beliefs in service. It is not despite our differences, but because of them, that MIFA is a strong unifying force. A major element of MIFA’s vitality is the synergy of people coming together not just to solve problems, but to promote and to experience the richness and dignity of human lives.
Our community is richer also because of such groups as Diversity Memphis, the Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network, and the City of Memphis Office of Multicultural and Religious Affairs and such events as the annual Tear Down the Walls concert. If pluralism is to emerge as an opportunity rather than a threat, such work must become a primary focus as we work to make Memphis the City of Good Abode for all.