School of Theology and Ministry
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News and Events

  • Student Reflection: Spiritualities, East and West

    Last month, we posted an "Inside the Classroom" highlight of STMM 520's course "Spiritualities: East and West with Dr. Valerie Lesniak and Sheik Jamal Rahman. Here is a reflection inspired by that same course, from a current Master of Divinity student, Corey Passons.

     



    Reflection:
    Interfaith Collage"I recently presented a day-long spiritual retreat on the topic of exploring and naming one's gifts in ministry.  As a group we discussed how the prevailing culture in America leads us to focus on our deficits and apply our energy (and dollars!) there.  We agreed that it can be very easy to be swallowed up by this culture and forget the other ways to view ourselves...namely from the perspective of our gifts.
     
    A similar culture can sometimes over-shadow our religious lives.  We can become lost in the standards and mechanics of our own faith communities and seem to forget that initial urge toward the divine which drew us into community and a life of faith in the first place.
     
    This is a moment when interfaith study and practice can be a deep blessing.  One can find fresh perspective and energy anew by journeying into the origins of a spiritual tradition other than one's own and going to those foundations of sacred longing that began a lasting heritage of devotion.  There is a wonderful gift waiting to be received through actual participation in interfaith prayer exercises, the reading of religious texts outside one's own tradition, and through dialogue with people practicing that faith tradition.  All of these efforts can be a valuable reminder calling us to return to those sacred truths within our own faith tradition that are transcendent, holy, and occasionally forgotten in the normalcy of a prevailing culture.
     
    Through these efforts in interfaith study, I have experienced a restorative and expansive perspective on my own faith while developing a sensitivity and respect for other faith traditions.  My hope is for you to experience this renewal and perspective as well by engagement with interfaith reflection and encounter."

     

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