Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

” Festival of Faiths can teach you more about your own faith”

Nathan Day Wilson, pastor at the First Christian Church in Shelbyville, contributed this article to the Indianapolis Star Sunday, August 9.

“Festival of Faiths can teach you more about your own faith”

Why go to an event in Indy, such as the Fesitval of Faiths at the end of August, that involves people of different religious faiths and spiritual traditions? Why would such an event be important or interesting?

For starters, when you know little or nothing about something, there is a tendency to be skeptical of it. For instance, let’s say you heard someone say, “I’ve got Jesus in my heart.” You might think that’s a weird thing to say. How could one person have another person in their heart? And whether they did or not, why would they tell you about it? Is that person a kidnapper or what? Now, let’s say you were exposed to that person’s belief system. Then you would realize they were not being literal; the idea they were expressing was one of devotion and intimacy. They are, in fact, making a statement of religious faith.

There are many religions in Indiana. And an interfaith event is a great, non-threatening way to learn about and experience them.

A second reason to attend an interfaith event is that most likely you know neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc. of different religions. If that is true, then learning about and being exposed to other faiths is not only a fun, academic exercise, it also is something for you to do in order to better understand the people in your life.

Once you learn a little about why someone would claim to have Jesus in his or her heart, you know that person a little better. You “get” them better.

Third, interfaith events such as the Festival of Faiths on Aug. 30 are worthwhile not just to learn about others, but also to learn more about you. Numerous cultural groups will perform on the sacred arts stage during the event, including Sikh, Jewish Klezmer, Middle Eastern, Christian, and more.

Yes, you learn more about your own beliefs when you are exposed to others’ beliefs.

I can speak personally to this. I was born into a family that valued faith. In our case, it was the Christian faith, and it was expressed for generations as part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

When I was exposed to the beliefs of others as a young adult, I realized more clearly that I inherited much of my belief system. That does not mean it was insincere. It does not mean that I needed to abandon it.

That exposure helped me, and continues to help me, decide what beliefs to own. It helps me better understand me.

Nathan Day Wilson pastors First Christian Church in Shelbyville. Follow him on .


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