Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Heard From The Tables

Marcia S., New Jersey

Common Tables is an invitation to a unique experience in interfaith, multi-cultural adventure. Perhaps more significantly, it is also an invitation to a mind-expanding and very personal spiritual adventure.”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio

From time-to-time in these entries we will feature organizations we feel are doing exceptional work in the interfaith arena. This week we are pleased to tell you a little about our friends at The Interfaith Center at the Presidio:

THE INTERFAITH CENTER at the Presidio was created "to welcome, serve, and celebrate the diverse spiritual wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area." The Center is networked globally with hundreds of interfaith groups in 50 countries who share a common commitment: . . . to promote daily, enduring interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

Twenty-two Bay Area interfaith groups currently are Sponsoring Organizations.

The Center's core activities are:
  • Providing hospitality at the interfaith Main Post Chapel,

  • Developing local and global connections, and

  • Creating interfaith learning environments and resources.

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio is . . .

  • a San Francisco Bay Area grassroots interfaith friendship-building nonprofit organization,

  • your host at the Main Post Chapel in the Presidio of San Francisco and

  • the San Francisco International Airport Reflection Room, two interfaith sanctuaries welcoming people of all faiths, and

  • an inter-religious advocate of peacemaking among religions, locally and globally.

Never has the need for healthy cross-culture relationships been greater. The Interfaith Center at the Presidio has an historic commitment to healing and peacemaking within, between, and among religious and spiritual traditions.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lasagna - Slow Cooker Style

A great do-ahead recipe! Keep the cook out of the kitchen!!

Lasagna - Slow Cooker Style

Made with ground beef and turkey sausage, this one is perfect when your dinner guests need to avoid pork.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 lb. ground beef, browned
½ lb. ground turkey sausage, browned
32 –oz. jar spaghetti sauce
Plus 4.5 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
8-10 lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese to taste

Combine the ground beef, ground turkey sausage, spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce.

Combine ricotta cheese, egg and parsley flakes.

Layer half of the meat sauce mixture, the dry noodles, the ricotta cheese mixture and the mozzarella cheese in the slow cooker. Repeat layers, ending with meat sauce mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with green salad and French or Italian bread.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Conversation . . . It's the Main Course! Part 2

This from the Introduction to the Common Tables member's guide "Conversation: The Main Course":

"Many of us are uneasy with the notion of entering into casual, social discussions with people we view as somehow different than ourselves. So, as we approach our first Common Tables gatherings, the question we are faced with is this: Given that most of us aren’t very comfortable talking with strangers about the small stuff, how in the world do we get our Table to the place where we are talking about things like spirituality and religion, faith, bigotry and prejudice, or even eternity?

"The answer is that we allow things to evolve slowly. Very slowly. It’s not like talking about the weather or speculating about the winner of tomorrow’s football game. You can share differing opinions about the probable outcome of a sporting event or about the accuracy of tomorrow’s weather forecast and no one will take it personally, but if you so much as hint that you find someone’s belief system to be nonsensical or devoid of logic, you are attacking the very core of their identity. Such beginnings won’t lead to the sort of open, unencumbered, purely-trying-to-understand discussion and debate that we all want to foster.

"So take it easy. Use some of our suggestions and start to get to know one another. Your Table’s members will begin to disclose bits of information about themselves and, as personalities unfold, you will find that trust and respect flourish. You’ll discover unexpected commonalities . . . and differences to keep in mind as you move into more personal and potentially sensitive areas of dialogue."

We provide topics to stimulate conversation at each of our Common Tables seatings. Members are encouraged to try some of our suggestions . . . or make up some “ice breakers” on their own.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

"I believe that love, kindness, compassion, tolerance, and peace can be implanted in the psyche of man only when fear, paranormal illusion and ignorance are removed. We can then shift our attention more to matters of peace, rather than to matters of war."
Peter Retzinger

"Once started, religious strife has a tendency to go on and on, to become permanent feuds. Today we see such intractable inter-religious wars in Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims in South Asia and in many other places. Attempts to bring about peace have failed again and again. Always the extremist elements invoking past injustices, imagined or real, will succeed in torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility."
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, addressing the World Evangelical Fellowship on 2001-MAY-04.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Conversation . . . It's the Main Course!

Today we begin a series of weekly entries on Conversation . . . and specifically on the subject of face-to-face dialogue between the grass-roots members of differing religionious, spiritual and/or philosophical belief systems. Who better to open our discussion than the Dalai Lama?

“Because all the world's religious traditions share the same essential purpose, we must maintain harmony and respect among them. This not only benefits the followers of each religion but makes our neighborhoods and countries more peaceful. To do this we need to understand something about the world's different religions. There are many ways to go about this, but I believe the most effective is face-to-face dialogue. Let religious and spiritual leaders meet together to discuss and share their experience and practice; let ordinary members of religious communities spend time with each other.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Debate vs Dialogue - A Business Perspective

This article is a few years old, but it brings up some valuable points! We felt it worth reposting here:

Debate vs. dialogue: Times call for knowing the difference

Friday, September 17, 2004
The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area - by Jan Peeples The Business Journal Serving the Greater Triad Area

The political season is upon us and the debate has begun. Rarely in our history have battle lines been so clearly drawn and the public so polarized by differing political views.

In businesses across the country, water-cooler conversations that begin as informal banter about current events turn quickly into hotly contested political debates, sometimes ending in misunderstanding and damaged relations. Passions of the political season demonstrate the ongoing struggle within organizations to deal constructively with diverse values and points of view.

Companies that invest heavily in developing and nurturing teamwork know that different perspectives are assets, but only when team members understand the difference between dialogue and debate.

Dialogue requires that participants suspend their own assumptions so they can truly hear thoughts expressed by others. The reward of dialogue is allowing everyone to articulate personal perspectives and be heard, not judged.

By contrast, debate requires that one person try to convince another of a particular position. Mutual learning is not a goal.

Why does debate come so naturally to us while dialogue seems to be a learned skill?

If you think back to the water-cooler scene described above, informal banter becomes debate when someone's value system is threatened. Then defenses are raised and counterpunches fly.

Because political positions are so closely tied to our personal histories, we bring a set of beliefs into the conversation that are an important part of our identities. If our opinions are invalidated, so are we.

This scene is played out in many business settings, even when the conversation is not about highly charged matters of national politics.

Organizational direction, personal power and accountability are subtexts for many business discussions, whether stated or not. Without a trusting environment for dialogue, every discussion has the potential to end in debate.

Preoccupation with making a point, as opposed to hearing other points of view, can be dangerous. Examine recent well-publicized corporate failures. Among the causes were an inability or unwillingness to hear other points of view.

Enron Corp., Tyco Inc. and WorldCom Inc. all had one thing in common -- a corporate culture that discouraged dialogue. Greed and spin at the top went unchallenged, with no capacity for learning.

Voices that offered warning were squelched. The outcomes speak for themselves.

The best recent example of a national dialogue is the work of the 9/11 Commission. Although partisan affiliations were clear in public forums, behind the scenes the committee was committed to inquiry and dialogue for the purpose of learning together and reaching a consensus on recommendations.

Regardless of how one feels about the published report, the process itself is noteworthy.
Perhaps this political season will focus our attention on the importance of a national dialogue rather than a national debate.

Furthermore, let's hope it reminds us that organizational cultures that encourage dialogue will reap the benefits of employees' best thinking and collaborative workplaces that contribute to our nation's innovation and productivity.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Faith Club

Monday's Media Review:

The Faith Club
A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding

For many of us, an opportunity to meet our role models is one met with mixed emotions. There is a part of us which nearly boils over with anticipation, but there is another part where anxiety lurks. What happens to our world view if our heroines disappoint – what if they fail to be worthy of the pedestal we have placed them on in our minds?

This past Sunday we, the Founders of Common Tables, had the opportunity to meet the women of “The Faith Club” up close, in person . . . and they far exceeded our lofty expectations. These are three who really “walk their talk”. I can only say that we are fortunate that people like Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner are on this planet at this time in our history – that they are being, doing, and sharing with all of us. They prove what is possible for people everywhere.

Their book, "The Faith Club" was the first we read after deciding to start Common Tables. It remains at the top of our recommended reading list.

In a world where conflict and controversy dominate the religious news, these three women - Jew, Christian, and Muslim - model what can happen when we come together with open hearts and a spirit of curiosity. They lead by example and demonstrate how together we can reach far greater heights than by each walking our own path alone.

5 Stars!!
Original Release Date: October, 2006
Length: 416 Pages
For Special Pricing on "The Faith Club", Click Here

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

Our Greatest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light , not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

"Actually, who are you not to be?

"You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

"We were born to make and manifest the glory of god that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson “Our Greatest Fear” from her book “A Return To Love”