“Are you saying all religions are the same?”, “Are you ignoring the differences between religions?”, “Is this, as the NY Times says, a ‘mash-up’ of the differing religions?”
These are really all versions of the same question. For a very long time we have lived with a paradigm that tells us there can be only one “right” belief about the sacred. It is a crippling, divisive, and limiting paradigm. When a new path offered, our first question is almost always, “Is this the right path?” “Is this the right belief?” “There can only be one. Is this the one?”
In this discussion below, we want to say “spiritual paths” rather than “religions,” because paths like Buddhism, let alone Humanism, don’t consider themselves religions. And, importantly, Interfaith, as a faith, is an approach to spiritual paths and not a religion.
Our spiritual paths are most definitely not the same. Christianity is different from Buddhism. Islam is different from Humanism. Baha’ism is different from Judaism. Hinduism is different from Paganism. And so forth. Interfaith doesn’t grudgingly acknowledge this. We embrace it.
Nor does Interfaith ignore the differences. Indeed, we celebrate them as differing answers and approaches to the most fundamental question that we humans ask ourselves: How should I live my life?
Is Living Interfaith a “mash-up” of differing spiritual paths? No. The difficulty in coming to one Interfaith service and trying to draw conclusions about Interfaith is that a snapshot, even the most accurate snapshot, can only reveal to you the truth of one moment. At Living Interfaith, we honor our differing paths, but we don’t put them in a blender. So how does that look over a year?
Over the past three years, we have honored and celebrated holy days from the Buddhist, Jewish, Humanist, Christian, Baha’i, Muslim, Pagan, Unitarian Universalist and Sikh traditions. We will continue this practice in the coming year. (http://livinginterfaith.org/?page_id=66). When we celebrate these days, we are intentional about being led by a person who follows that spiritual path. We don’t “blender” these traditions into a “one size fits all.” We recognize and honor the differences. What we do not do is allow those differences to divide us. As example, I don’t become Christian when we celebrate Easter. But Easter is important to my Christian friends, and I feel enriched by celebrating with my friends something of such importance to them.
What is accurate is that Interfaith sees as the primary calling of all our spiritual paths to act in the world in community, with both love and compassion. How to reach this important goal differs from path to path, and we acknowledge those differences. But we also acknowledge that there is no one “right” path for everyone. Rather than be limited by our differences, we celebrate them. We do not water them down. We share with each other our diverse paths without trying to convert or convince, united by our common intent to act with love and compassion in community. We are indeed all different, but we share a common humanity.