On an evening not too long ago, Bay Area high school student Ritu Balani hosted an event that allowed fellow students and community members to share with an audience their most intimate spiritual and religious stories. These 2023 episodes contain a conversation with Ritu, as well as excerpts from the night itself.
More episodes from "Common Threads: An Interfaith Dialogue"
Follow Your Heartbreak Parts 1 & 2
55:49If you are a devotee of mythologist Joseph Campbell you know his mantra for years was "follow your bliss." In the proper context, this can be a wonderful aspiration. However, some may take it at face value and end up living a rather selfish, vapid existence. Fr. Adam Bucko turned this saying on its head by titling his book "Follow Your Heartbreak." By this he means that we can find great fulfillment by looking to serve those on the margins of society. Believe me, this is a man that has been walking his talk for ages. Listen to this and be inspire to be the change you want to see.
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The Sacred Time of Sabbath Parts 1 & 2
55:10Common Threads is both honored and humbled to be named as the #1 podcast in the arena of interfaith. We are indebted to all of you who download, listen or otherwise support our efforts. You can see the list that includes other fine programs as well here:https://blog.feedspot.com/interfaith_podcasts/
As I Lay Dying: Conversation with One Who Has Been There Parts 1 & 2
1:00:02I am so pleased to have found yet another cassette tape in my basement from way back when that I'm thrilled to share. All signs point to these episodes being recorded in 2002. Fr.Richard Neuhaus, who died in 2009, was a force to be reckoned with in the conservative Catholic movement. He was the editor of 1st Things Magazine, a journal of social and religious right-of-center commentary. But we really didn't get into that sort of conversation. The focus here was on his book "As I Lay Dying." In recent times there have been more than a few books from Christians about personal experiences with their own death and some sort of afterlife journey. We've even talked about one such story that was embarrassingly debunked by the author years later (Episodes 12 & 13: I Did Not Die & Go to Heaven). But Fr. Neuhaus speaks with a sense of gravitas that compels you to listen, even though belief is another matter. I encourage you to give this a try.
Creating the Qur'an Parts 1 & 2
57:24There are many people of faith who, upon maturing in their spiritual growth, become willing to view the stories that surround the origins of their religions as more allegorical than historical. Admittedly, it's perhaps more challenging to find Muslims who are open to this understanding about their tradition than Jews or Christians. My understanding is that those Muslims who do question the historicity of the their scriptures tend to become ex-Muslims. In these episodes we explore how the Qur'an was created. As with all ancient religions, there is always a bit of a chasm between what academia discovers through the historical process and what the faithful are taught to believe. Sometimes it gets tense.
Good Death Auspicious Rebirth: End of Life Transitions in the Dharmic Traditions Parts 1 & 2
55:15Every once in a while there will be episodes about projects that I've been personally involved in. This is that. These 2023 conversations are with Dr. Frank Tedesco of True Dharma International. He produced and directed a documentary that is intended to advise caregivers and medical personnel on providing comfort to those adherents in the Dharmic religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism) who are nearing the end of life. It is a very powerful and significant work. I am honored to have narrated this film. If the discussions here interest you enough, please go to https://youtu.be/7PCUviLdyw0 to watch the film in its entirety.
The Life of a Pilgrim Parts 1 & 2
56:24In the Hindu tradition there is the stage of life called Vanaprastha. It is when one retires from many family and professional responsibilities to dedicate more time to spiritual advancement. Our guest on these 2023 episodes is not Hindu, but Unitarian Universalist. Rev. W. Fred Wooden, and he is expressing this epoch in his life by pilgrimage. He has traversed the globe, honoring multiple religious traditions as he walks the well trodden paths of our ancestors. Fred is a longtime friend of mine. At one point in his ministry he had a radio show of his own: Faith & Reason. I was a frequent guest. When I was we called the episode "Common Freds." Much of our conversation here revolves around a recent pilgrimage he took in Japan. His reminiscences of that experience is recorded in the book "Basho and I Take a Long Walk."
Attempting to Fight Bigotry with Bigotry: New American Caste Laws Parts 1 & 2
56:11I suspect that no one who listens to Common Threads would support the oppressing of someone due to their social status or caste. So when we hear of colleges, towns, states, etc., passing legislation or resolutions that claim to protect those born in "low caste" families our initial response might be a positive one. But as our guests on these 2023 episodes indicate, this kind of thinking may have serious negative consequences for Americans of South Asian descent for years to come.
Polarization in Society and the Church Parts 1 & 2
56:47We hear and read about how this country is so deeply polarized. The problem is that there is clearly one side that has made a cottage industry out of demonizing the "other side." While there are crazy makers on the left side of the spectrum, it is clearly those who subscribe to a Trumpian philosophy that are doing the most damage. In these episodes we speak with Fr. Aaron Wessman, the author of "The Church's Mission in a Polarized World." While the focus of the book is directed toward Christians, people of any faith can profit by the strategies laid out in this work.
Ali The Iraqi: A Muslim in the House of Mormon Parts 1 & 2
56:36Years ago the US Government was anxious to resettle Iraqi citizens temporarily in the USA whom they thought had significant leadership qualities. Their purpose was to begin their nation building in a post-Saddam society with returning these men and women in time for a turn toward an American friendly democratic republic. Josh Sobey's family, who are all members of the LDS, agreed to house Ali, a high school student from Iraq. This book is an excellent account of that episode in the lives of Josh and Ali. They collaborated on an effort that is part fiction, part true. For the most part, it's up to us to parse the real from the not-so-real. We do get a few clues here in these conversations. Regardless, it's a great read.