Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Inter-faith Dinner Again

Yesterday evening, Bea, Vahid, Sara and I was in my place for our second interfaith dinner. Maikel wanted to come; but could not make it due to some health problems.

Dinner Table
I cooked lentil soup; and Sara cooked potato kookoo. I again forgot to take the photo of the dinner table. Instead, I took following picture this morning.

The movie that Bea brought is on the table ("Life of Brian" ); and also the pen and paper I used to take some notes during our chat.

We had chat about this and that first:
- the royal family of Spain (their king after the dictatorship is still the king today)
- the story behind the naming of daughter-in-law Ezo soup (a variety of lentil soup). I discovered thanks to this chat that iranians also say "gelin" for daughter-in-law and bride.
- I learned that Argentina also has a city called Cordoba, named after the Spanish city. And, Sara told us that Ines was from there. Then, it made sense to me why Ines was talking about her life in Cordoba during Fesencan dinner last week in Sara-Vahid's place. Interestingly, Bea is from spanish Cordoba.
- Vahid and Sara asked if the taste of helva I got from them two days ago was similar to ours. I told them that the only difference was addition of spices, which we don't do. It was interesting to hear that they cook this dessert also in funerals.

Regarding interfaith discussions; we basically talked about two main things:
- Violence and religion
- Does the world need religious leaders?

Violence & War and religion
Of course all of us were against violence and war. Bea initiated a discussion about the Buddhistic view with no violence at all even you are attacked, i.e passivity view. She also reminded us the statement of prophet Jesus: "If someone slaps on your cheek, turn your other cheek to him".

At the end of the discussion, we all agreed that the advice of Jesus Christ must have been for the people who can take lesson from "turning other cheek" (Sara's comment). If the person is of the kind who will not take lessons and start to slap more and more to you; you should not behave like this. Probably this was what prophet Jesus meant, we concluded.

So, we all agreed that totally passivist attitude is not true. Everybody must do their best to keep peace, but war or counter-attack for defence purposes is OK when unavoidable.

Do we need religious leaders?
We first started talking about if any religious leader is needed or not (Pope, Dalai Lama etc.). This was Maikel's discussion-question. Bea opened a discussion about sufficiency of inner voice. Isn't our inner voice, our own mind enough to decide on what is right or not? If so, why would we need a religious leader?

At the end, we all agreed on following points:

- General and basic moral values are almost the same in all religions, and it is true that we can make our decisions on those issues (whether that thing is right or not) based on our own inner voice. We may not need a leader or an expert for such things. However, there are more detailed and deeper issues (or controversial points) which require an expert opinion. Since we go to doctor when we are seriously ill (they are experts) and we do not decide based on our inner voice for treatment, we need religious experts to guide us in deeper issues. (Vahid's point)

- It is better to say "religious scholar" rather than religious leader in this sense.

-This does not mean blindly obeying only one leader. There must be more than one leaders equally respected; so that we can have opportunity to compare their views with our inner voice. They should be considered as guides to alternative ways of thinking and interpreting an issue. We can then have opportunity to adapt the view closest to our "inner voice", or we can make our own interpretations depending on those alternative views.

Further ideas

Towards the end of our chat, Bea asked the question: "What should we do next?"

She already had a couple of nice suggestions:

  • We can search for dialogue associations in Amsterdam and join their activities

  • We can participate in the activities of helping organizations (for kids etc)

  • We can visit churches, synagogues or mosques

  • I had found a very interesting website last week for organizing voluntary activities:Meet-In. Bea suggested that we could drop an add there to call for people who are interested in interfaith discussions and we could have a big meeting with people with very different backgrounds.

  • She said that we can also join ceremonies of Hare-Khrishna which are held on sundays.

We decided on the last activity; and we will go there in our next meeting.

1 comment:

Sara said...

We don't say gelin in Persian Tunahan, I happened to know the Azari word for it :)

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