Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Students' trip to Israel aims at Mideast peace (Denver)

Monday, January 28, 2008
By Jeff Kass, Rocky Mountain News

Presidents, secretaries of state and special envoys have all tried to broker peace in the Middle East.

Now a group of 27 high schoolers from across the metro area - equally divided among Muslims, Jews and Christians - will fly to Israel in June in an effort to bring a measure of peace to the region.

It's a heck of an after-school assignment.

"I think it will make us more well-rounded, and I think it will show us that life is more complicated than walking down to McDonald's and grabbing a double cheeseburger," says Omar Murib, a 17-year-old junior at Douglas County High School, who is Muslim.

"You've got to start somewhere, and we're taking baby steps toward (solving) the war, guns, bullets and achieving peace."

During their 10 days in the region, students will learn firsthand about the facts on the ground, as diplomats say, and meet with peacemaking groups.

Read the full article

Monday, January 28, 2008

Favorite Films of 2007 - Part 2

For today's Monday Media Review we continue last week's listing of Stephen Simon's (Spiritual Cinema Circle) personal favorite films of 2007. Repeating myself here: we are HUGE fans of the Spiritual Cinema Circle and of Stephen Simon, so it should come as no surprise that we place value on his opinions. Here are the final threee of his 2007 selections and, in Mr. Simon's words, his reasons for these choices:


A powerful and moving tribute to the courage of the African-American Wiley College debating team and its coach in 1930s Texas. Denzel Washington directs and stars in a film that reminds us of what we can accomplish when we decide that it is we, not the world around us, who define ourselves.


A funny, poignant, searingly honest, and loving story of a teenager’s unwelcome pregnancy and her search for both herself and the most appropriate adoptive parents. Ellen Page is simply brilliant as the title character and the film has much to say about love, life, and responsibility. It also has one of the sweetest and most touching final scenes in recent memory.


An offbeat, often hilarious, and sometimes harrowing story about a small town waitress and her unique talent for baking every kind of pie imaginable. Keri Russell achieves superstar actress status with her complex and nuanced portrait of a woman in an emotionally abusive marriage that she yearns to escape. The film is also a loving tribute to Adrienne Shelly, its writer/director/costar who was tragically killed after the completion of the film.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Common Tables at Wind Crest

This past Thursday - the 24th - Common Tables celebrated its newly formed partnership with the Wind Crest retirement community in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Our objective remains that of establishing 750,000 small, interfaith dinner groups which combine to create a grass-roots base for overcoming barriers, misconceptions, and fear-based thinking about diversity and inclusion. The people who live at Wind Crest are contributing to our goals by joining in and starting up their own on-site Common Tables groups.

“There is a genuine community of unity being built here at Wind Crest, and we want to celebrate and recognize that,” said Randy Harris, the Executive Director of Common Tables. “This is the first time we’ve partnered with another organization in this way.”

“I have always believed that it’s important never to judge someone, based on his or her belief in God”, said Clarence Burton, a resident of Wind Crest. “By introducing Common Tables to Wind Crest, we have an opportunity to expand our social and cultural circles. It will give us an opportunity to value the diversity of Wind Crest residents, enabling us to become better neighbors and enriching our community living experience.”

This celebration served as Common Tables at Wind Crest’s inaugural event. The event was attended by numerous residents and staff members from the Wind Crest community. A certificate of Appreciation was presented to the community by representatives from our organization.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lifted hands, open hearts

Baltimore Sun
January 21, 2008
by Matthew Dolan, Sun Reporter
If any member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation at first appeared to be subdued during the joint service with First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church, Senior Rabbi Rex D. Perlmeter offered an explanation.
"You lift your hands in prayer, and by tradition we have sat on our hands in worship," Perlmeter said of his Reform congregation's custom of relatively reserved services.
But the stillness was short-lived yesterday as both the Baptist and Jewish congregations in Baltimore took to their feet with cheers praising God at the sprawling Park Heights Avenue temple. They united for more than two hours in a song-filled, tear-soaked, dancing-in-the-aisles service for the first time this weekend to celebrate the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In recent years, local Reform synagogues and African-American churches have held joint activities around the holiday for the slain civil rights leader in an effort to foster understanding between African-Americans and Jews, two communities that have had somewhat strained relations in the past.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Favorite Films of 2007 - Part 1

For today's Monday Media Review we have elected to share with you Stephen Simon's (Spiritual Cinema Circle) personal favorite films of 2007. Many of you already know that we are HUGE fans of the Spiritual Cinema Circle and of Stephen Simon, so it should come as no surprise that we place value on his opinions. Below are the first two of his 2007 selections and, in Mr. Simon's words, his reasons for these choices. We will present the his additional selections next week.


With bravura performances from both Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, the film is a beautiful paean to the powers of love, friendship, and, most importantly, healing. Sandler, in particular, is brilliant beyond words. Unfortunately, like Jim Carrey in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND in 2004 and Will Ferrell in STRANGER THAN FICTION in 2006, Sandler is seen as, and I’m afraid somewhat resented for, being a successful broad comedian, and his incredible performance has been unjustly ignored.


What a delightful, whimsical, and hilarious film! Putting some of Disney’s classic fairy tale characters into a modern day context works so well that my whole family just sat there smiling, laughing, and applauding throughout the film. Amy Adams’ fairy tale princess, separated from her prince and sent to modern day New York by an evil queen, is so pitch perfect that we were repeating her lines for days.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Toledo Blade Features Common Tables

The Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH, featured Common Tables in a nice article in this morning's edition. David Yost, Religion Reporter, said in part:

"In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Dave Corby's first reaction was 'to be mad at them - which in my mind was Muslims.'

"After thinking it over, however, he came to the conclusion that 'it was pretty stupid of me because I didn't know any Muslims.'

"That realization was among several factors that inspired Mr. Corby to start Common Tables, a nonprofit, nondenominational group based in Denver, Colo. Its mission is to bring people of different religious traditions together to share meals in relaxed settings, usually someone's home, in order to build better relationships and help diverse groups live in harmony.

"The organization was founded last April, went online in May, and has had more than 300 people enrolled so far. Its ambitious goal, however, is to enlist 3 million participants worldwide within a year."

See the complete article by clicking here: Toledo Blade

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Promoting Dialogue," a Commentary by Interfaith Montgomery (Alabama)

Jan 18, 2008
Montgomery Advertiser

"With the appearance of this column, Interfaith Montgomery and the Montgomery Advertiser introduce a new monthly column dedicated to the increasingly diverse religious communities in our city and surrounding areas. This initial column was written by Rev. Robert Graetz and Rev. Paul Britner, co-conveners of Interfaith Montgomery; Rev. Andrew Dawkins, treasurer; and Rev. Dr. Susan Diamond, secretary.

"The religious spectrum in Montgomery today includes not only the full range of Christian traditions familiar to most people, but also smaller, yet vibrant communities of Buddhists, Hindus, Baha'is, Muslims, and Jews, among others. This diversity is not new, just more prominent.

"The first Jewish community was organized here more than 100 years ago, and Muslims have worshiped at the Masjid Quasim Bilal El-Amin since 1984. Unitarian Universalism, which has roots in the Christian tradition and which today is an open, diverse, non-creedal faith, has been in Montgomery since the 1950s.

"Of course, the Christian community hardly speaks with one voice. Our community has Greek and Roman Catholics, and there are many variations of Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Lutherans, to name just a few of the Protestant traditions in Montgomery. Thus, Christians should not presume to speak for each other any more than they would for faith groups outside the Christian tradition."

Read the Full Article

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our Blogging Policies

We suppose this is as good a time as any to let the reader know what our policies are. In general, those involved in interfaith activities are independent sorts who don’t like a lot of rules. With that in mind, we have set policies in only a couple of areas:

First are policies concerning our posts:

We will always strive to be truthful and accurate. When we make a mistake of a material nature, we will correct it as soon as we can.

Any necessary corrections or updates will be made in such a way as to not materially impact the substance of our original blog posting.

Mistakes of a non-material nature will not be edited. In other words, we will leave our mistakes visible unless they cause harm.

When we feel it is appropriate, we will link to other websites and blogs; however, we are not endorsing or responsible for the opinions and content of those sites.

Finally, we will post only those items we feel will be of interest to readers with an active involvement in interfaith activities.

And then there are policies impacting reader participation:

You may post comments to this blog.

Our intent is to encourage active and lively participation in this blog. With that goal in mind, we will enforce only a limited number of rules and guidelines:

Your comments will not be moderated before they are made visible.

Your comments will not be edited.

We will not delete criticism of the Common Tables model for interfaith dialogue nor will we delete criticism of our opinions.

We will delete comments determined by us to be proselytizing.

We will delete those posts which criticize or find fault with the beliefs of others.

We will delete comments which contain obscenities, which are believed by us to be spam, and those which don’t contribute to the purposes of this blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Statement of Purpose

This blog is established to provide a source of timely information to those with an interest in interfaith dialogue. Most are lead to this site specifically because of their involvement in the Common Tables interfaith initiative; however, visitors with even a casual interest in improving global harmony will find much to occupy them here.

An open heart and a spirit of curiosity are the only requirements for participation in this community. Most have been guided to this site from the Common Tables website (http://www.commontables.org/). While membership in the Common Tables family is not a prerequisite to participation in this community, our members consistently tell us they find their Common Tables experience to be one of the most rewarding activities they have ever been involved with. More information is available on our website.

We welcome your comments and input.

Many thanks for your presence!

Dave, Kay, Randy and Sandy
Founders, Common Tables

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vatican, Muslims Plan 'Historic' Meeting (Vatican City, International)

Jan 2, 2008

The News & Observer/AP

Catholic and Muslim representatives plan to meet in Rome in the spring to start a "historic" dialogue between the faiths after relations were soured by Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 comments about Islam and holy war, Vatican officials said. Benedict proposed the encounter as part of his official response to an open letter sent to him and other Christian leaders in October by 138 Muslim scholars from around the world. The letter urged Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.

Three representatives of the Muslim scholars will come to Rome in February or March to prepare for the meeting, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano this weekend.

Read the full story

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Busy Week for International Visitors!!

This past week was a HUGE one for visitors to the Common Tables website . . . and one that set new records for us in global outreach as we had first-time visitors from organizations and/or individuals from 14 new countries!

New countries on the site this week included: Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Montenegro, Taiwan, Poland, South Africa, Costa Rica, Croatia, Norway, Greece, Barbados, Estonia, Jordan and Denmark!

We have now seen a total of 73 different countries on the Common Tables website.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Embracing the New Year

We received this from a Common Tables member in Paksitan early in the morning on New Years Eve Day:

"My dear friends, Salaam alaykum! As this year draws to a close - some might say ignominiously so for us here in Pakistan - I wanted to reach out and share with you in the spirit of heartfelt brotherhood a prayer for a more peaceful 2008; for greater understanding, tolerance, compassion and firmness in the face of blind destructive forces; for more sweetness of inhabiting the life-suckling waters of inner stillness; for more joy in seeing and tasting that though we are indeed in this world, our essential substance is other-worldly - glorious, luminous and eternal."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

U.S. Jews and Muslims Seek Paths to Harmony

Dec 24, 2007

by Michael Conlon

Muslims and Jews, a tiny slice of the U.S. population, are looking for new ways to get along that could set a worldwide example for two ancient but often alienated faiths, religious leaders and experts say.

"I've encountered (among Muslims) a more centrist, a more moderate voice that is looking to the Jewish community to help project that voice ... to the greater world," said Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York, speaking of a national summit of imams and rabbis he helped organize earlier this year.

He also cited a recent incident in a New York subway "where four young Jews were being verbally and physically assaulted on a train for wishing the passengers a happy Hanukkah, and the only individual to come to their rescue was a young Muslim man," Hassan Askari, of Bangladeshi heritage, who was beaten.

"That is a very, very powerful example" of what can happen. The challenge is to try to strengthen Jewish-Muslim cooperation and have it serve as a paradigm for communities around the world," added Schneier, who founded the New York Synagogue in Manhattan and also the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Read the full story