A month ago reader Larry sent me a link to a story about a practical interfaith initiative in Berlin, Germany. There are plans for the construction of a place of worship which will house a Muslim, a Jewish, and a Christian congregation. It is an unprecedented proposal which still has a long way to go, but the notion of one building including worship spaces for all three faiths, as well as a common room sounds wonderful to me. In the BBC News piece the Christian cleric is interviewed:
Each faith will keep its distinctive ways within its own areas, Pastor Hohberg says."Under one roof: one synagogue, one mosque, one church. We want to use these rooms for our own traditions and prayers. And together we want to use the room in the middle for dialogue and discussion and also for people without faith. Berlin is a city where people come together from all over the world and we want to give a good example of togetherness."
There is no desire to homogenize the three faiths, simply to demonstrate that distinctly different religions can literally find common ground for mutual respect and understanding.
Since hearing about this I listened to a CBC radio interview with a Toronto rabbi and an imam whose lengthy relationship has been built on trust, humour, and an obvious affection after more than twenty years of friendship. Their places of worship share a parking lot, but they share a great deal more as congregations.
This can happen! In a world where mistrust and violence rooted in tribal religion cause us to be discouraged we need the stories of dialogue and respect.