Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heard From The Tables

Pete H., Colorado, Common Tables Member

“We enjoyed a unique open dialogue concerning religious beliefs. We could not discuss this subject with some family and friends because of the sensitivity and personal beliefs of others. This opportunity would not have been possible without the Common Tables organization. Thank you for creating this terrific, ongoing experience.“

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

This Friday we offer a couple of thoughts from Jawaharlal Nehru* (Pandit Nehru) for you to ponder over the coming weekend:

"Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people."

"The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction."

*Indian politician; 1st prime minister of India 1947-1964; father of Indira Gandhi.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


In the format most commonly used by our Common Tables groups, one of the guests brings a salad, one brings an appetizer and one brings a desert. The idea being to spread out the workload a bit and free up the host/hostess for more active participation in the evening's conversation. With that idea in mind, this week we offer a recipe for a salad which is easy to put together and which travels well:


Sunshine Coleslaw travels well. In the quantities listed, it can make an interesting and unusual contribution to a Common Tables gathering. Just be sure to wait until the last minute to add the dressing – otherwise the red cabbage and cranberries will turn the whole salad an unattractive sort of pink color.

Yield: 12 Servings

2 - 16 ounce pkgs coleslaw mix
2 Granny Smith, or other tart apples, cored, peeled and diced
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans

Sunshine Dressing
1 - 12 ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons orange blossom honey
1 teaspoon celery seeds

For the Salad, combine the coleslaw mix, apples, cranberries, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss to mix evenly.

For the Sunshine Dressing, combine the orange juice concentrate, cider vinegar, vegetable oil, honey, and celery seeds in a “shaker jar”*. Shake vigorously until well mixed.

Just before serving: Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss until coated evenly. Serve immediately.

* For these purposes, a “shaker jar” is any jar which has a tight fitting lid and which is large enough to hold the dressing ingredients.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Gulen Movement"

Monday's Media Review
Peaceful Islamic movements are an integral part of the fabric of Turkish life. This book explores recent reformations of Islam and culture in Turkey – in particular the Islamic modernist Fethullah Gulen movement.

The Gulen movement, easily one of the most significant over the past 50 years in Turkey, combines a devotion of Islam with an emphasis on modern learning, particularly modern sciences. Combine these teachings with Gulen’s focus on tolerance and on co-existence in a pluralistic society and we find a movement which not only inspires many young Turkish Muslims, but which suggests a model of compassionate dialogue for the entire planet.

To my knowledge, this book is the first academic attempt to examine Gulen’s teachings. In this time of so much anti-Muslim rhetoric, this book serves as an important reminder that Islam, like all religions, must be studied in context . . . and that context is always a product of political, social and economic conditions.

4 Stars!
Original Release Date: November, 2003
Length: 256 Pages
For Special Pricing on "Turkish Islam and the Secular State", Click Here

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday's Food For Thought

"According to the basic principles of my religion I am not to seek to convert anyone not born into our laws . . . We believe that the other nations of the Earth are directed by God to observe only the law of nature and the religion of the Patriarchs . . . I fancy that whosoever leads men to virtue in this life cannot be damned in the next."

Moses Mendelssohn, German-Jewish philosopher (1729-1786)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Exclusivity vs Inclusivity

Today's "Food for Thought"

Why do you suppose it is that the word "exclusivity" appears, as nearly as I can tell, in all online dictionaries (and in all of the print dictionaries on my shelves) . . . yet I find "inclusivity" in none of them?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


More in our series of recipes which work well in the Common Tables format. To help keep the host/hostess out of the kitchen, and to give them as much time as possible with their guests, we encourage the use of slow cooker and casserole "one-dish meal" sorts of recipes.


A real crowd pleaser. Simple enough for everyday; fancy enough for company.

Notes for participants: If your Table includes members with strict alcohol prohibitions, substitute non-alcoholic white wine, chicken broth or stock, white grape juice, or water for the white wine in the ingredients list.

Servings: 6 (This recipe "scales" well, so adjust the ingredients as appropriate for the size of your Table.)

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ⅓ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 - 6 ounce can whole black pitted olives, drained
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese, about 2 cups

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

Combine all ingredients – except chicken, feta cheese and those used to prepare the rice – in a slow cooker. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Stir the chicken into the tomato/olive mixture. Cover. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

For the Rice: Start cooking the rice about 30 minutes before serving. Combine rice, water, oregano and bouillon granules in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until all liquid is absorbed – about 20 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

To Serve: Spoon a generous helping of rice onto each individual plate. Place chicken pieces on top of the rice, ladle the tomato/olive mixture over chicken, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Pluralism - a critical concept in a world where communication is increasing awareness and awareness is changing the religious landscape . . . but what is pluralism?

It is a concept we will be visiting frequently over the coming months. To get your thinking started, here is a portion of the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary:
  1. A condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.
  2. The belief that such a condition is desirable or socially beneficial.
  3. The doctrine that reality is composed of many ultimate substances.
  4. The belief that no single explanatory system or view of reality can account for all the phenomena of life.

To our knowledge, there is no better source of information on the subject of pluralism in the United States than the Pluralism Project at Harvard University - they have been studying changes in America's religious landscape since 1991 - their site is an outstanding gathering place for information.

We will be returning to the subject of pluralism again and again. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the Harvard site.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Monday's Media Review

I’m not sure how we missed this treasure when it was released in 1997. Granted, it is the sort of film which somehow stays a bit under the radar; even so, it did receive four Oscar nominations (cinematography (by Roger Deakins), music (by Philip Glass), costumes and art direction).

This is a beautiful biopic covering the period in the life of the Dalai Lama from 1933, through the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and ending with his flight into India. Even if you're not all that acquainted with Buddhism, you will be impressed with the way the film manages to capture the mystical essence of Tibetan Buddhism.

Kundun was filmed with a cast of unknowns in Morocco after film crews were forbidden to enter Tibet. However, the cast of “non-actor” Tibetan actors, some of whom are related to the Dalai Lama, lend the film a gritty, honest feeling which somehow complements the austere Himalayan landscapes.

Wonderful cinematography and a broodingly brilliant score by Philip Glass combine to give this film a transcendent beauty.

It may take a bit of extra effort to find Kundun, but it will be time well spent . . there are moments in this film that will stay with you for years.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday's Food for Thought

"Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth."

Tich Nhat Hanh

"As believers we all have an opportunity and moral obligation to recognize our spiritual common ground; to rise above our differences; to combat prejudice and intolerance."

Queen Noor of Jordan

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We're Back!!

Sorry about our silence over the past month! We've been busy creating Virtual Tables - the internet home of the Common Tables family and the web's premier interfaith networking site!

We will be talking more about Virtual Tables over the next several weeks, but for now we point out that membership in the Virtual Tables Network is open, at no charge, exclusively to members of Common Tables.

Virtual Tables is currently being beta tested by a group of Common Tables members. We will be rolling it out to our general membership within the next few days.

Those interested in joining, or in finding out more about, the Common Tables interfaith initiative are encouraged to visit our website.