The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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Reflections Upon Samir Selmanovic Event

I really enjoyed the time with Samir today. Thanks to everyone (Nancy and Bo especially) who contributed and made the event happen. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me. I thought we could kind of "open up" discussion here on the blog for any reflections or thoughts about what Samir shared.

  • We live in an ecosystem in which we need each other; we need diversity. The worst thing that could happen would be if everyone in the world became a Christian. Your identity as an individual depends on mirroring. You are a flower because you are not a weed or a vegetable. 
  • For a Muslim the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence is the best example of Shariah law that has ever existed. 
  • We refuse to distinguish between good and bad (when thinking about Muslims). We just want everyone to be bad.
  • We need the Other, because if there is no other, there is no us. 
  • As Christians we want Samaritans, tax collectors and lepers, but we are stuck with Muslims, immigrants and gays. 
  • We need more extremists because the ones we have are shallow. We don't need extremists who resolve the tension of their beliefs with one violent act, but rather will live an entire life of tension. That is extreme. Mother Teresa is an extremist, not a suicide bomber. 
  • The Other may critique us, and they might be right. There is something in the non-Western world that the West needs very much, but we are afraid that we actually need it. 
  • The Other is there precisely so we can tell them who you are. If you do not share your treasure with the other, you do not respect them, as if they cannot say "no." 
  • God is a stranger - If we don't welcome the human other, how do we welcome the divine other?
  • We cannot fulfill the practices of our faith without other religions. 
  • The good news must be news and it must be good. Sometimes, the good news could be better. The Presence of God in the Other is good news. 
  • How can I have a religion that explains the existence of most of the world and life as a mystery or unknown?
  • Jesus doesn't scare people. Our ambition to manage and control Jesus scares people.


NancyJ said...

I really appreciated Samir's description of the three levels of position:

1. Tolerance (tolerance is great as a cage is great). It is setting the bar way too low.

2. Appreciation is better but is not there yet.

3. It is when we say to the other, "you are needed." that our lives change and theirs.

This was really powerful for me because I have spent years being tolerant and maybe in the last few have moved to appreciation in some areas. But to think of the other as you are needed, this is a great challenge and humbling for me.

I also thought it was interesting that Samir said the position of giving is a position of power and I will think about that for a while.

Scot said...

I think some of you are aware of the trepidation(?) or angst I expressed prior to Samir's visit. That issue was quelled for me when Samir made the point that:

"The good news must be news and it must be good."

I was suspecting (with good reason based on past experience) interfaith was a guise for universalism and I can't allow Christ to be less than Transcendent. I'm glad Samir is pioneering how Christians can reach out to those of other faiths and establish a context of common ground (we're seeking connection with Someone or Something that we all sense is tugging on us)from which to ultimately share the "good" good news. At least that is the impression I got from his comments about "Faithhouse".

I think the Church has "talked about" earning the right to be heard for quite a while but finds itself ill prepared to practice the "slow" process that the realities of our shrinking world present us especially in the context of our "instant" culture.

I'm always stimulated when I see a convergence of things in my spiritual voyage. For me some of what Samir shared dovetailed with a message I recently heard from the church my son attends in LA. I think it adds to what Samir was saying about strangers. Specifically being aware that in the slow process of earning the right to be heard we are the stranger.


We refuse to distinguish between good and bad (when thinking about Muslims). We just want everyone to be bad. I felt this was somewhat of a interesting statement. It seems like a pretty strong generalization (others?). Sure there are some Christians who may feel that way but I'd wager the majority do not. He mentioned concern over inaccurate reporting by profit driven media but that sword does cut both ways.

I'm looking forward to reading the book and am very glad he got to share with us.

Jesse said...

Nancy - I also thought that tolerance quote was really good. I think that ties into Scot's point about the Church really finding a way to be "heard" in the global culture. What Samir said was that we have to receive first, because if we are always giving, we are still in the place of power. That reminds me so much of Peter Rollins' ideas about being evangelized. Powerful concepts, and challenging.

For me, a point I will always remember is when he spoke very firmly about sharing what you believe to be true. He said that if you do not share truth with "the Other," then you don't respect that person, you don't think that they have the right to reject your truth.

I also thought that his statement in response to Nancy's expression of doubt was very profound. He said that you have doubts now because you believe other things more firmly. You are standing on a new ground of faith, and you just can't see it yet. That struck me as right on.

Scot, thanks for your honest push back during the discussions this past month, and your reflection here. Exciting stuff to engage with you on!!