Experiencing Interfaith Dialogue and Building Empathy Among Religionists: What Works?
By Stephanie (Stevie) ShaeferInterfaith Empathy and Communication - What is Interfaith?
Jesus in the Urantia Book models personal religion – personal relationship with our “Heavenly Father Within” which is unique for each person. Thus, in this series interfaith is defined as each person with a personal relationship with God, regardless of their religion, in communication with all others. Building interfaith empathy is focusing on commonalities, rather than differences, talking less and listening more, and demonstrating sincere understanding. The “Tao of Communication” is caring more about the what the other person has to say, than what you have to say. Active Listening, summarizing both verbally and non-verbally what the other person is saying and what they think about what they are saying (not what you think they are saying), lets the other know you are truly listening, and can clarify and create more understanding, and encourages more communication.
Sharing your intention in a prayer, self-disclosure, focusing on commonalities,
using concepts and quotes from the teachings of The Urantia Book as examples, developing empathy by actively listening to others and ourselves both verbally and nonverbally, using effective communication skills such as I-messages, rather than You-messages, avoiding roadblocks to effective communication, and practicing rules of dialogue developed by consensus.
Interfaith Committee’s “Commonality Among Faiths” Project
The Urantia Book Fellowship Interfaith Committee is participating in an ongoing project entitled “Commonality Among Faiths” which began in preparation for the World Parliament of Religions, and culminated in a book that we plan to publish as an e-book that that we can add to and edit. Each page is dedicated to a faith group, and includes major concepts of that faith group and correlates each concept to quotes from The Urantia Book. In sharing the book with other religionists at the World Parliament of Religions, etc. we received positive feedback and it encouraged interfaith dialogue.
In order to encourage interfaith empathy, understanding and dialogue, we plan to share one to two major faith groups each month, focusing on ideals and purposes as much as possible, while correlating quotes from The Urantia Book for each faith group. We will start with faith groups that harmonize religions such as Bahai and Sufism, followed by the fastest growing religion in the world, accordimg to PEW research, Islam. We then plan to include Buddhism, Hinduism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and many others.
“Someday religionists will get together and actually affect cooperation on the basis of ideals and purposes rather than attempting to do so on the basis of psychological opinions and theological beliefs.” (The Urantia Book, Paper 99.5.7)