Interfaith film in the making and Carrollton interfaith meeting

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011.
Monthly Interfaith meeting Sponsored by Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, Carrollton
Hosted by Rev. Dennis Hamilton & Mike Ghouse

The Cities of Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Coppell have an interfaith group that meets on 2nd Wednesday of the month, and each month one of the organizations hosts the luncheon and shares about their place of worship and what they do.  I am blessed to a part of this esteemed group for nearly five years.

Rev. Hamilton talked about diversity in language from Genesis and it was amazing how diversity is built into that chapter and indeed, in all holy books.

Interfaith gatherings are viewed with suspicion by less than 1% of people from any group, they rumor that it is for conversion and for some gain. There may be a case or two here and there, but they are  very rare, I am humbled to say that, I am blessed to have been a part of most interfaith gatherings than most people. Like everything else in life, about 1% of of any group tends to be suspicious, arrogant and gripped in phobias, you will find them in every religious denomination, religion, race, ethnicity and other groupings.   Interfaith is no exception, a few have commented on my forums and blogs that interfaith is a scheme to convert people or find out what is going on with the other ; a fodder for gossip.  I don’t know where it is true, but certainly not in the interfaith gatherings in Dallas/ Fort Worth area. The Carrollton group is very sensitive and have developed a great system and humorously we add, no conversion and no one has done that inthe last five years, I have been a part of it.

I have also been a part of a number of groups around the world,  including the Rev. Moon’s Unificationist Church, I have never been asked to convert, instead they ask each religious group to express their own belief, as they believe and respectfully listen to the otherness of other. I have spoken in a number of their conventions and world wide gatherings, but never have I had the inkling of conversion.

Richardson has a Faith group that meets on first Sunday of every month; they do have a clear policy; listen to others and share yours. We had two gentlemen that came in and wanted to prove to others that their belief was right, which was ok with ever one, but when they say others are wrong, it messes with the cohesion of the group. In the matters of faith, no one is wrong if the belief works for them let it.  Fortunately, they did not come back, they need more time to cushion and understand that there is another point of view.

On my turn,  I talked about the essence of teaching of all the great teachers; to bring society to functioning again, where people can trust each other and go on about their ways. Religion brings a balance in a society where every one learns to respect other’s space, nourishment and nurturance.  Jesus, Moses, Krishna, Muhammad, Buddha, Nanak and all others were reformers who restored the trust and righteousness for the society to function well with the given differences.

Americans together is a documentary about Americans working towards building that cohesive society. Indeed, it is the vision of all the great teachers including Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Moses and others. Our Mission is to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. Our founding fathers laid the ground work for such a society, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that in his speech, “I have a dream that our little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Chief Seattle, a Native American said this perfectly, “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the webs, he does it to himself.”

The questions we face are;

1. What are you and I doing to preserve that web?
2. What are our initiatives?
3. What are the divisive issues?
4. How would we allay the prevalent phobias and fears?
5. What is your vision for America?

John F Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”. We hope to capture your responses in a moving story about America. The occupy movement is a reflection of doing something about it. We need to channel that.

I salute the gentleman from the group, who was kind enough to mention that he did not agree with the idea, most probably about placing all religions on the same footing. I love that spirit. If all of us can disagree with civility and express it, instead of repressing it or agressing it out, life becomes so much better. This is what I mean by accepting the otherness of other, without having to agree and respecting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.  

I shared the incident I had with Pastor Robert Jeffress who probably read the wrong translation of Quraan and said the things he said.  I thought he had backed off, but he repeated the denigration when he introduced Presidential Candidate Rick Perry. 

Here is an abstract from Dallas Morning News

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history. In the middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders. Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.
“It was all for politics,” he said. Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

“If he can, I will convert. I will join his church,” Ghouse said. “If he can’t, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker.”

I was delighted to know that some of our members wanted to know the good translation of Quraan. By far the best available translation is by Muhammad Asad, even in this translation, there are two items that needs to be updated. The one you don’t want to see is the one by Hilali Khan fraught with deliberate insertions in the translations to create ill-will between the people, most of the non-Muslims Islamic scholars based their knowledge on that false foundation.  Hilali Khan was a right wing Muslim like the right wingers in all Religions.    

I am looking for ideas and stories where people have done all they can to make America a beautiful nation, the heaven on the earth where no American is apprehensive of the other. We are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.

 Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is indexed at
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