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Recently I was in a Scriptural Reasoning (SR) group lead by Dr. Peter Ochs who developed SR some twenty years ago. SR is a practice in which Christians, Jews, and Muslims come together to study their sacred texts. It is a post-liberal and post-critical response to modern readings of the texts. It is a way we root ourselves within our scriptures and engage in interfaith relationships. Unlike some interfaith circles I have been a part of that seek to form around the lowest common denominator, SR welcomes commonality and (this is very important) the sharp tensions of differing theologies. The relationship is thus much more real and honest because we do not compromise our theologies yet develop and maintain a friendship.
Think of it this way: if you want to get to know your Jewish neighbor who lives next door to you, you might invite them over for wine or dinner and host them in your house. The space of your house and the space of your conversation becomes the host of your interfaith relationship. In SR the text itself is the host. The Bible, The Qur’an, and the Tenkah become the host of the interfaith relationship. As a Reformed theologian, text is very important to me. Sharing my text and receiving the text of my neighbor is holy ground.
The other night we studied the theme of beginnings. We looked at passages from all three texts that talk about the idea of in the beginning. From the Bible we studied John 1 (we looked at Genesis 1 from the Tenkah). I am still in awe of the way we delved into our sacred texts. It was Bible study for two hours and yet it was in relationship to two other texts. It was beautiful and challenging.
I am new to this thus I should probably begin to wrap up my explanation of SR. I may be wrong. I may be misunderstanding this very cool discipline. Look to Wikipedia if you want more info. Or google Peter Ochs. Or check out my friend’s blog, here, as she reflects from our time doing SR.
But here’s the deal. I’m still holding how beautiful this study was. I’m still deep in thought about the connection of creation and chaos. I’m not sure how to articulate all that I’m holding so I want to offer a poem by my friend, Matthew*, who expresses another perspective of beginnings. If you don’t know Scriptural Reasoning, check it out. I think it may be (one of) the way(s) forward for interfaith relationships. If you haven’t read Genesis 1 or John 1 lately, do so attentively. Don’t rush it.
That which matters fell faceless
Spun out with blind
Fury into a hopeless whatever
Hit a null of inhospitable
Vacancy and shrieked
The tritonal trauma of chaos.
Wherelessness was the first God
To fall, wrists upon the threshold of
Moving, Breathing, and Having/Being.
It was good -not that it was gone.
Let there be Light.
This was the only way
To know where the Becoming
Was going to be.
How else might importance
Cease stubbing sacred toes upon Nothing?
Darkness turned suddenly with purpose and
Light blinked and blushed;
Acquaintance. And just like that
It was love at first sight.
*An emerging voice in Christian liturgical curation, Matthew Lyon discovered this art in Seattle, WA, where he served as Liturgist for Church of the Apostles, an urban Christian community engaged in the creative communication between faith, culture and ritual. He currently lives on a small island in lower New York. Follow him around on twitter: @LaserPony
I can't in any way understand how you can call this Christian. At best its sacrilege. At worst, idolatry. And at least, its an abomination.
Absolutely dreadful. And a complete betrayal of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirt.
Jes, thank you for taking a risk in sharing this. The work to understand and appreciate the depth of another's faith and the truth in what he or she does believe, all the while holding steady in one's own beliefs, is an admirable challenge.
This is beautiful, to be a part of dialogue among sacred texts. It would be very interesting to hear the perspectives of others on texts I hold sacred. To see how their practice could inform mine. To see from another perspective. To honor both similarity and difference. To question together. And I love the language of the various texts acting as host, as this is also the language of communion, a place where all are welcome. Thanks for sharing this Jes! I want to hear more!
My absolute favorite part…
"Unlike some interfaith circles I have been a part of that seek to form around the lowest common denominator, SR welcomes commonality and (this is very important) the sharp tensions of differing theologies. The relationship is thus much more real and honest because we do not compromise our theologies yet develop and maintain a friendship."
Douglas your comment as it stands exhibits a posture of fear of the other more than concern about orthodoxy or trinitarian allegiance.