Stories of Faith: A Doorway to Interreligious Appreciation

  • Interfaith admiration breeds understanding Geddes Hall is home to the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame Image Credit: University of Notre Dame

  • Admiration Across Religious Boundaries - Global Gathering

    A Pedagogy of Admiration Professor of Theology John Cavadini discusses the role of admiration in interreligious understanding

Stories of Faith: A Doorway to Interreligious Appreciation

Storytelling opens the door to admiration and empathy by pointing us toward the hidden, underlying spiritual harmony that connects us all.

The power of mutual admiration was a central theme during the three-day “Stories of Practical Holiness” conference held in spring 2012 at the University of Notre Dame.

Tales that cut across religious boundaries--from an Israeli woman and Palistinean man becoming friends through a homeland struggle to Christian monks putting their lives on the line for the Muslim community hosting them--provided inspiration for the gathering. 

"If you can admire someone, it means you're able to learn something from your admiration,” said Notre Dame Institute for Church Life Director John Cavadini, an advisor to the Fetzer Institute's council on World Religions and Spiritualities. “So interreligious understanding comes from this ...."

This distillation of admiration into learning and understanding was highlighted as a framework to cultivate authentic love and the capacity for forgiveness and healing among people from various faith traditions.

Notre Dame sophomore Christian Coppa, who works for the ICL and helped to coordinate the series, said the session’s use of anecdotes unveiled deeper common truths. “When we bring members of different faiths together to share their stories, we plant seeds of interreligious admiration,” Coppa told the campus publication The Irish Rover. “Storytelling opens the door to admiration and empathy by pointing us toward the hidden, underlying spiritual harmony that connects us all.”

Conference coordinators also shared ways to build interfaith understanding through stories like these when communicating with spiritual and secular audiences

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on World Religions and Spiritualities.

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