Dear (fellow) Interfaith Nerds
Our colleague at The United Religions Initiative gave us a “World Interfaith Harmony Tool Card,” which has numerous suggestions on how to participate (or harmonise, as they put it!) in UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. One of the suggestions is to “send a card - show your appreciation to a faith leader or anyone you admire from another tradition.” We thought this was a wonderful idea, and so we’ve decided to write a letter to interfaith nerds all over the world.
Interfaith nerds, you know who you are, there is no need for explanation. For those who don’t identify, a very quick and basic definition.
Interfaith nerd (noun) [interfaith nerd!]: individual that is incredibly passionate about interfaith coalition that attends interfaith events/numerous religious services on a regular basis, and has a large collection of theological materials and/or holy texts.
Dear (fellow) interfaith nerds,
We hope this letter finds you well wherever you are in this beautiful world! You’re probably reading this after attending Shabat services, Jumu’ah prayers, or Quaker meeting. Let’s be honest, you probably went to all three. It’s ok, that’s why we love you.
We want to express our appreciation for your passion for interfaith understanding, and your respect for all religious traditions. Interfaith nerds, you’re a rare group, but we think you bring an important component to multicultural work. Religion is often viewed as a heated topic, one to be avoided because of the instant controversy the slightest mentioning will invoke. But we’ve clearly seen that “not talking about it” doesn’t help, it simply fuels stereotypes and misconceptions.
Interfaith nerds jump right in. You aren’t afraid to talk about your personal understanding of religion, or your spiritual journey. You aren’t afraid to ask questions, or admit when you don’t understand something. You know that reading different scriptures or attending different religious services doesn’t “water down” your beliefs; instead, you recognise how they strengthen your spirituality. And you know that everyone embraces religion differently, everyone has a right to their beliefs and the right to respectfully disagree.
While we are very dedicated to interfaith understanding, we sometimes wonder why interfaith work seems so unusual to some folks. We’re a Jewish-Buddhist pair, and it makes us sad to think that many people would be surprised that we can work together peacefully. Why would our different religious views inhibit our daily interactions or our work towards social justice? And forget simple “coexistence,” we’re attached at the hip. Seriously, sometimes we come to work in practically the same outfit. We’re “that” couple!
So on this very appropriate occasion, we would like to thank you interfaith nerds. We appreciate your work and the positive social change that you bring about on a daily basis.
Much peace and respect,
Rachel and Nina, Faiths Act Fellows