I’m delighted to be a stop on the Blog Tour for my friend Traci Smith’s new book Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life. Her book is a resource for parents who want to find practical ways to incorporate traditions, ceremonies and spiritual practices in to their daily routines and lives. Because Traci and I both work together to support the work the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, I’ve asked her to talk specifically about how this book might help families who are interested in interfaith dialog and peacemaking and I’m so excited about her new book! (Traci and I are also both married to Colombians, so we know that part of life very well too!) Enjoy a little bit of our conversation, maybe this can be a tool for your community of faith as you seek to lead all people to experience the Spirit’s presence that is always all around them!
Shannan: How can families stay faithful to their own faith traditions while still respecting and honoring the traditions of other religions?
This is such an important question, and can be tricky to navigate. While we want our children to have strong convictions and confidence about what they believe, we don’t want them to cross the line into becoming judgmental and intolerant of others. Furthermore, in a world where religious extremism leads to violence and narrow-minded beliefs can stifle dialog, many parents are understandably wary of “indoctrinating” their children. Here are some principles that I have found are useful to parents:
- Use the language analogy: I once heard someone talk about the “language of faith” in the same way that we think about languages that we speak and write. He said “just as I can speak many languages, I can speak other languages of faith, but there is one language that is my heart and my mind.” We can tell children that just as people speak different languages, there are many different faith languages and that it’s fun and interesting to learn about them.
- Incorporate other traditions in your own way: Seamless Faith is based on my reformed Christian Perspective, yet there are several practices that borrow from other religions: prayer flags based on the Tibetan prayer flags, the Sacred Meal modeled after the Jewish Sabbath Meal tradition and the Buddhist parable of the raft are some examples of this.
- Talk about what is common to many faiths and help children to find common ground: Tell children that, though there are many different beliefs around the world, there are some common themes that appear in most of the worlds’ religions: love and peace, hope and truth. Ask children how other beliefs can help them to understand their own with greater depth.
Shannan: How can people who are interested in your book learn more?
I send out a monthly newsletter with free excerpts from the book and monthly tips about faith and family.Readers can sign up to receive these updates. The book Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life is now available from Chalice Press and your favorite book-selling place. Thank you so much for loaning me a some space on your blog to talk about an issue that is near and dear to both of us!