As I mentioned yesterday here on the blog, World Interfaith Harmony Week starts Thursday. And the good news for folks in the Kansas City area is that there's a film festival to mark the occasion.
The festival is sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, which has lined up a great list of movies with various religious themes.
Details are here on the council's Facebook page. The planners have been wise to spread the festival around the metro area, from the Rime Buddhist Center at the edge of Downtown to the Plaza Library to a Mormon church in the Northland and to other sites.
And then, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, there will be a wrap-up discussion and reception at All Souls Unitarian Church just off the Country Club Plaza.
Why does any of this matter?
Because religious literacy matters. And religious literacy matters because without it we wind up with ignorant people caving into fears and prejudice. All that, in turn, can lead all the way to violence.
Interfaith understanding is not designed to get people to abandon their faith traditions by converting to another one or to none at all. Rather, dialogue among people of faith is designed to help them know and to be known so as to reduce fake news about various traditions and to teach all of us how to live in harmony with people who don't share our own religious beliefs and practices.
As the page to which I linked you in the first paragraph above notes, "The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010, by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week."
The film medium may be a particularly effective way to help people understand other religions. Let's test out that theory over the next week in the Kansas City area.
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IS THERE A 'GOOD SWASTIKA'?
A rabbi who made a visit to India discovered an ancient symbol -- a swastika -- that long pre-dates the Nazi corruption of that symbol, and he came to be at peace with it. Once a symbol is ruined by evil, can it be rescued? Maybe so.