Monday, June 30, 2008

". . . a beautiful grass roots effort"

Dr. Roger W. Teel, Senior Minister and Spiritual Director, Mile Hi Church, Lakewood, Colorado

"Common Tables is a beautiful grass roots effort . . . the kind that holds the greatest promise for building bridges of communication and understanding in an increasingly complicated and challenged world.

"I appreciate and respect the founding members of this unique project for masterminding a brilliantly simple and time-honored approach for building interfaith understanding and global harmony: sharing a table with others...especially those of diverse beliefs, cultures and faiths.

"Problem solving and peace emerge when hearts open and connect. So I invite you to get involved in this powerful initiative.

"Pull up a chair and let the healing and bonding begin."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Listening: The Language of Peace

We continue our series on Conversation with a few comments on listening.

Conversation has been defined as: "A vocal competition in which the one who is catching his breath is called the listener."

Over the next couple of weeks we'll take a closer look at the art of listening and we'll again start by taking a look at the Common Tables member's guide "Conversation: The Main Course":

The Language of Peace

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” - Ralph Nichols

"Regardless of your belief system, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your Table is to improve your listening skills. Interestingly, within the context of your Common Tables experience, you will find that the best listeners are listened to more than the poor listeners. The best listeners at your Table will be seen as more caring and will have a greater influence within your group than those who are not skilled listeners.

"This short article will serve as an introduction to the art of listening. Throughout your time in the Common Tables family, we will offer materials to help you develop your listening skills. Not only will you be able to apply what you learn to enhance your Common Tables experience, you will find improved listening skills helpful in all of your relationships.

Don’t Confuse Hearing With Listening

"Listening is something you choose to do . . . something you can decide to practice and become more effective at. Hearing is a biological function; listening is a learned skill.
To be an effective listener requires mastering two groups of skills: the first is the ability to focus your attention on the speaker. The second is the ability to communicate your understanding of the speaker’s words and meaning.

"Of the two, it is easier to develop the communication skills needed to paraphrase (to express an understanding of the details of what the speaker said) and to demonstrate empathetic listening (by expressing your understanding of the speaker’s feelings) than it is to acquire the self discipline needed to focus attention. While these communication skills are important – if you are unable to communicate your understanding you will reap few of the benefits of effective listening – they are the easiest of the skill sets to develop."

More next week . . .

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heard From The Tables

Dr. Duane Troxel,
Administrator of the Baha'i Center of Metro Denver, Chair of the Denver Baha'i Assembly, and Common Tables Member:

"Put me down as one of those who enthusiastically supports what Common Tables is doing to build bridges between faith communities. Although I cannot speak for the entire Baha'i Faith, I can speak for myself as a Baha'i. The Baha'i Faith seeks to promote unity in all its forms; this too seems an important function of Common Tables".

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday's Food For Thought

“Fundamentalism isn't about religion, it's about power.”

Salman Rushdie

“Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.”

Mark Twain

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Eat, Pray, Love"

Monday Media Review

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert fully engages the reader, sustaining a charming, funny tone in this glorious, heartfelt memoir. Finding herself full of despair following a messy divorce, the author embarks on a journey of self discovery by equally dividing a year among three countries; Italy, India and Indonesia.

First, the pleasure of savoring Italy’s delectable delights (lots of pasta and pizza!); next, time to pray, search and reflect at an ashram in India; and finally, balance and love in Bali. What fun it is to join her on her journey and watch her as she evolves along the way.

In addition to being a superb writer, her ability to bring the characters to life pulled me in from the start. I found her insights inspirational, her humor uplifting and her honesty enjoyable. In the end, I felt as if I had made a new friend. This book left me wanting more!

“I keep remembering one of my Guru’s teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

5 Stars!!
Original Release Date: January 30, 2007
Pages: 352

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Table Grace - Part 3

This month's table grace comes to us from the Buddhist tradition.

(serving the food)
In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.

(looking at the plate of food)
All living beings are struggling for life.May they all have enough food to eat today.

(just before eating)
The plate is filled with food. I am aware that each morsel is the fruit of much hard work by those who produced it.

(beginning to eat)
With the first taste, I promise to practice loving kindness. With the second, I promise to relieve the suffering of others. With the third, I promise to see others' joy as my own. With the fourth, I promise to learn the way of nonattachment and equanimity.

(after the meal)
The plate is empty. My hunger is satisfied. I vow to live for the benefit of all living beings.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

This week we offer three thoughts to ponder from Hans K√ľng, a Catholic priest, Swiss theologian and, since 1995, President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic.

"That means that every human being - without distinction of sex, age, race, skin color, language, religion, political view, or national or social origin - possesses an inalienable and untouchable dignity."

"We are conscious that religions cannot solve the economic, political and social problems of this earth."

"There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Some Background

Common Tables is the vision of two individuals from Colorado and is not associated with any theological, political or social group.

We drew upon our experiences with local dining clubs to build a working model with the tools and techniques that would make a real difference in the world. Very quickly we realized that this was not a pastime and we all left our “day jobs”.

Within a couple of months of putting up the Common Tables website, we had repeated hits from almost every state and province in North America and ninety-six countries overseas. That was interesting, but recognizing that people were spending 30+ minutes on the website demonstrated to us that we were on the right path. Today, those numbers continue to grow exponentially.

The real win for us came when religious leaders from all faiths and philosophies started to endorse the Common Tables vision. That continues today and soon people from every country will recognize and read endorsements from global leaders.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Quick. Easy. Elegant. What else could you need to know?


Like the best of simple recipes, the key to perfection in this one is starting with fresh, quality ingredients: asparagus cooked until just tender-crisp, some high quality extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh parmesan cheese - avoid the stuff in the green can, at least for this recipe!

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

3 pounds asparagus, trimmed
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
8 ounces Parmesan cheese*, shaved, plus extra to serve
freshly ground black pepper

First cook the asparagus. The cooking method you use isn’t nearly as important as it is to avoid over cooking. You can choose to steam the asparagus for around 10 or 12 minutes. It will also work to microwave it on HIGH for about 7 minutes. The key is to stop cooking while the stalks are still tender-crisp. (Remember that residual heat will continue to cook the spears for about a minute after they have been removed from the heat.)

Thoroughly drain the cooked asparagus. (The idea is to remove any excess moisture in the spear tips which could dilute the olive oil.) Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Provide extra Parmesan, olive oil and a pepper grinder when serving.

*The Parmesan will be more flavorful and easier to handle if you let it sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on how warm the room is) before shaving and serving.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Peaceful Warrior"

Monday's Media Review

The critics didn’t much care for this movie . . . and we loved it! And I suppose that pretty much sums it up.

It is admittedly a bit polarizing. Many will miss the messages altogether, some will find them trite and/or overly simplified; however, for most there will be at least a few memorable flashes. “There are no ordinary moments” comes to mind as a point well made.

If you are among the millions who enjoyed the book by the same name, you will find a lot to like in the movie. Even those who missed the book altogether will find Nick Nolte’s performance as Socrates sufficient reason to spend an evening with the Peaceful Warrior.

Keep in mind that Peaceful Warrior is not intended as a complete cinematic guide to enlightenment. Simply approach this movie with an open mind and enjoy.

We give this one 4 Stars!
Length: 121 Minutes