Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday's Food For Thought

"I appreciate any organization or individual people who sincerely make an effort to promote harmony between humanity, and particularly harmony between the various religions. I consider it very sacred work and very important work."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three faiths, three friends

August 26, 2008

Three faiths, three friends
Seattle's interfaith amigos
by Amy Frykholm, The Christian Century

The third annual interfaith Passover Seder meal at University Congregational Church in Seattle was a "bring your own wine" event. Tables for 300 guests were impeccably set with goblets and fresh flowers; two kinds of charoset (a pasty blend of fruit and nuts prepared according to both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic styles); two kinds of horseradish (raw and sauced); and baskets of matzo. The tables buzzed with lively conversation.

Rabbi Ted Falcon stood at the front with a guitar player and two singers. He is a trim, white-bearded man who is constantly making jokes, but he also has an air of underlying seriousness, intensity, even melancholy.

"OK," he said. "We'll begin on page 22 of your handout." After two days of watching Falcon lead services, I had learned that he never begins on page one. He is likely to start on page 22, continue on page 11 and move on to page two.

"The Haggadah takes us on a spiritual journey," he says. "We learn to be freed from our inner pharaohs, travel in our wilderness and form our own dreams of the Promised Land."

The participants at this event—which sold out three weeks before—were Jews, Christians and Muslims. Many came from Bet Alef, Falcon's "meditative synagogue" that meets in one of Seattle's suburbs. Some belonged to University Congregational Church, which was led by Pastor Don Mackenzie until his retirement in June. Others belonged to an experimental congregation led by Sufi Muslim teacher Jamal Rahman and known as the Interfaith Community Church. (Rahman calls it a church, he says, for "lack of a better term"; it's for people who meet on Sundays to explore their "spiritual paths" together, he explains.)

Falcon not only invited members of these three congregations to the Seder but asked Mackenzie and Rahman to speak. And Falcon didn't want generic spirituality talk from them; he wanted Mackenzie to mention Jesus or Paul and Rahman to refer to Muhammad and the Qur'an.

This kind of interfaith gathering is an increasingly common phenomenon across the U.S. Interaction between people of different faiths is hardly new, but a qualitative shift occurred after September 11, 2001, says Kathryn Lohre, assistant director of Harvard University's Pluralism Project. "There was a strong interfaith resurgence, driven by the desire of many people, perhaps Christians especially, to get to know their religious neighbors."

Read the Entire Article

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Heard From The Tables

Alyson P., New Jersey

“I cannot imagine a group of individuals more open-minded, friendly and dedicated to their mission than the Founding Members of Common Tables.”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ethic of Reciprocity - The Golden Rule

Last month we started our discussion of the Ethic of Reciprocity (commonly known in North America as the Golden Rule) by remarking that even though the various religious, spiritual and philosophical groups differ widely in their beliefs, practices and concepts of deity, they are nearly unanimous in their belief that each of us should treat others in a fair and decent manner. Almost all of these groups have in their holy texts and/or in the writings of their leaders passages which promote what is frequently called the Ethic of Reciprocity. Here are examples from Islam and Jainism:

Islam: "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."

Jainism:"A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated." Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We have had a lot of requests to return to our old practice of offering recipes a couple of times a month. We think you'll like this one - it's simple, yet surprisingly elegant:

Your turn to bring a salad? Here is one that is quick, easy and colorful!


NOTE: Make this a main dish salad by adding some left-over grilled chicken (you can make it with whatever cooked chicken you have on hand - we just happen to prefer the grilled). Figure on about ½ pound of bone-in chicken or ¼ to ⅓ pound boneless chicken per serving. 3 cups cooked chicken should be about right for this 4 serving recipe.

Yield: 4 main-dish servings

juice of one lemon
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds (optional)
5 ounces mixed spring greens (1 package)
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup Stilton or blue cheese, crumbled (4 ounces)
1/2 cup honey-roasted cashews*
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

One hour before serving: combine lemon juice, olive oil and anise seeds (optional) in a small bowl, whisk until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate for about an hour to allow flavors to combine.

If preparing this as a main dish salad, and if you haven’t already done so, skin the chicken and remove any bones. Coarsely chop or shred the meat.

To assemble the salad: Start by spreading the spring greens on a medium- sized platter. Top the greens with chicken, strawberries, blueberries, Stilton or blue cheese and cashews. Sprinkle with the lemon juice dressing. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

*We prefer using honey-roasted cashews in this salad, but you should feel free to substitute honey- roasted peanuts if that’s what you have on hand.

Monday, August 18, 2008

AARP Magazine Features Common Tables

We are excited to report that Common Tables is featured in a full page article on page 17 of the September/October issue of AARP Magazine. This exposure in the world's largest circulation magazine places us in front of AARP's 39 million members and is, as you would expect, generating a lot of interest in our initiative.

The article is not available online; however, if you want to check it out there are nearly 24 million copies of the magazine in circulation! In addition to being sent to AARP members, AARP magazine is widely available at newsstands across the US (though not all carry the publication, so it would probably be worth your time to call before running out to get a copy)!

We are extremely pleased with the media attention being given to Common Tables and will keep you posted as additional coverage becomes public.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

"True pluralism on the other hand, is always universal pluralism, (or integral-aperspectival): you start with the commonalities and deep structures that unite human beings--we all suffer, and triumph, laugh and cry, feel pleasure and pain, wonder and remorse; we all have the capacity to form images, symbols, concepts, rules; we all have 208 bones, two kidneys, and one heart; we are all open to a Divine Ground, by whatever name. And then you add all the wonderful differences, surface structures, culturally constructed variants, and so on, that make various groups--and various individuals--all different, special, and unique. But if you start with the differences and the pluralism, and never make it to the universal, then you have only the aprespectival madness, ethnocentric revivals, regressive catastrophes."

Ken Wilber
"One Taste", Page: 184-185

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Table Grace - Part 5

It has once again been about a month since we shared some of our favorite table blessings from our interfaith collection. Today we offer an example from the website of the Pantheist Association for Nature:

"As a suggestion, here’s what we do for supper:

We place a small vase of fresh flowers (a token of Nature’s beauty) on the dinner table.
We light a candle (a symbol of warmth and lasting life).
We sit around the table and hold hands (an act of love, sharing, and closeness).
Then, for a few moments, we engage in a silent grace (quietly giving thanks and treasuring life, each in our own way).

After 15 or 20 seconds, we release hands and dive into dinner."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heard From The Tables

Nancy H., Colorado, Common Tables Member

“I think it is wonderful that Common Tables is providing the perfect setting for people to begin to break down barriers. I’m very excited”.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Appreciative Inquiry & Common Tables - Part 3

This week we continue our look at Appreciative Inquiry - what it is and why it is an important tool for the Common Tables Family to know how to use. Here we wrap up our look at the "Eight Principals of Appreciative Inquiry" by looking at Principals Numbers 6, 7 and 8:

Principal Number 6: The Wholeness Principle - Wholeness Brings Out the Best
  • Wholeness brings out the best in people and organizations.
  • Bringing all stakeholders together in large group forums stimulates creativity and builds collective capactiy.

Principal Number 7: The Enactment Principal - Acting "As If" Is Self-Fulfilling

  • To really make a change, we must "be the change we want to see".
  • Positive change occurs when the process used to create the change is a living model of the ideal future.
Principal Number 8: The Free Choice Principal - Free Choice Liberates Power
  • People perform better and are more committed when they have freedom to choose how and what they contribute.
  • Free choice stimulates organizational excellence and positive change.
NOTE: This material is from the wonderful book The Power of Appreciative Inquiry by Diana Whitney and, a special friend of Common Tables, Amanda Trosten-Bloom.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Growing International Interest

International interest in Common Tables continues to grow! Our latest count shows that we have now provided information about our interfaith initiative to individuals and/or organizations in 107 different countries!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Appreciative Inquiry & Common Tables - Part 2

This week we continue our look at Appreciative Inquiry - what it is and why it is an important tool for the Common Tables Family to know how to use. Here we continue last week's look at the "Eight Principals of Appreciative Inquiry" by looking at Principals Numbers 3, 4 and 5:

Principal Number 3: The Poetic Principal - We Can Choose What We Study
  • Organizations, like open books, are endless sources of study and learning.
  • What we choose to study makes a difference. It describes - even creates - the world as we know it.

Principal Number 4: The Anticipatory Principle - Image Inspires Action

  • Human systems move in the direction of their images of the future.
  • The more positive and hopeful the image of the future, the more positive the present-day action.

Principal Number 5: The Positive Principal - Positive Questions Lead to Positive Change

  • Momentum for large-scale change requires large amounts of positive affect and social bonding.
  • This momentum is best generated through positive questions that amplify the positive core.
NOTE: This material is from the wonderful book The Power of Appreciative Inquiry by Diana Whitney and, a special friend of Common Tables, Amanda Trosten-Bloom.