Posted in From the Editor
on June 3, 2014 9:00 pm EDT
“Interfaith is difficult; it’s looking a stranger in the eye, one of a different color skin, a different socioeconomic background, and seeing that person as embracing and containing the Divine…. "
—Buddhist Interfaith Leader
In early April I visited Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel in Atlanta, where I am based, for a College of Ministers & Laity Crown Forum Induction Ceremony for the Board of Preachers, Board of Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars. That’s a mouthful.
I was there by the gracious invitation of retired Chicago architect Suzanne Morgan, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions’ sacred space ambassador (www.parliamentofreligions.org). In addition to devoting her career in architecture to liturgical design, Morgan is currently founder and director emeritus of Chicago-based Sacred Space International (SSI), a group devoted to encouraging interfaith dialogue on cultural diversity through the sharing of sacred space.
At a luncheon following the induction ceremony at Morehouse College, I heard various international faith leaders talk about what “interfaith” means to them. I share several of the comments as food for design thought here, for those of you who devote your careers or a portion of them to the design of faith-based spaces that may be shared community-wide.
• “Interfaith is difficult; it’s looking a stranger in the eye, one of a different color skin, a different socioeconomic background, and seeing that person as embracing and containing the Divine…. Interfaith is allowing ourselves to become really uncomfortable (visiting a temple or a mosque, and opening up to what’s going on there) to better understand each other in our skins.” (Buddhist leader)
• “It’s a religiously pluralistic world we live in; this is an historic fact. [We must] lead the way, coming from a principled, ethical place or position, not of personal comfort but of moral cosmopolitanism.” (Baptist leader)
• “There’s a stereotype that interfaith work is just clergy talking to each other. Talking, but not acting…. [However], most interfaith activity is working on issues that affect us in common. It’s dialogue and cooperation. To work together to solve a problem, we have to get to know each other.” (other Christian leader)
What does interfaith mean to you, as an architect, engineer, or consultant? Does your personal understanding of the concept affect your faith-based space design in any manner? Weigh in below in the comments section.