An invitation to Interfaith work

I met Imam Miller last spring while photographing the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia‘s annual concert & awards presentation (he’s on their board, and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.) It was a gorgeous evening, and one whose importance is all the more important today as recent events in Paris (and the unfortunate reactions to them) highlight the need for greater interfaith understanding and cooperation.

My own relationship with faith is a complicated one – I was raised in one particular religious tradition, rebelled against it, and since have come to a more nuanced appreciation of it and others. I now consider myself a seeker who finds wisdom and beauty in many traditions, and when I say that Everyone Is Photogenic, it’s a statement of faith that goes beyond just the superficiality of image-making.  If you want more on my own perspective on art and spirituality, maybe you’d enjoy Susan Richardson’s piece  for Newsworks.  But the point of this post isn’t to delve into my own thoughts on faith,  rather it’s to invite you to join me in daring to understand that of others.

Interfaith March 28 10th Anniversary Video from Flim Films on Vimeo.

The above video from the Interfaith Center should give you a sense of the power and beauty of this work. Religion is supposed to be something that brings us all together as fellow humans (literally from the latin root “religare”: to bind) – but too often it becomes something that instead divides us.

If you’re a member of a congregation in the Philly area, please consider getting involved with the Interfaith Center – or find similar organizations in your area. I can personally attest that their ‘Encountering Other Faiths‘ workshop is a great way to spend a day, and I’m looking forward to participating in their “Prayerful Looking: Art & Spirituality” mini retreat at the PMA this coming Sunday.  If you know any college students, Interfaith Youth Core is another great organization for them to get involved with.

If you’d like some reading to get yourself started on an interfaith exploration, I’d recommend these four as a great starting place.

Faithiest – Chris Stedman
Acts of Faith – Eboo Patel
Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? – Brian McLaren
Towards a true kinship of faiths – Dalai Lama

In this world where we have so much conflict, doing interfaith work is a great way to engage in active peace-making at the personal level, and it’s one that we can all engage in whatever our own religious beliefs might be.

peace and light,
-jj