The Interfaith Triangle

The Interfaith Triangle was one of the simplest and best ideas I heard  at the Global Chaplains’s Conference. It is an idea of Eboo Patel, the founder and director of the Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago. Imperial students interested in interfaith have met with people from IFYC on a couple of occasions so I was keen to hear Eboo. Not a great photo but trust me the speaker is Eboo Patel!

The idea is that deepening relationships between people of different faiths requires knowledge of another religion, knowing people who practice that religion, and an openness and positive attitude to learning about a different religion. These are the three sides of the triangle. Any positive encounter or relationship across a religious difference will be moving through these three aspects. So getting to know someone of another faith is likely to lead to increased knowledge about it and a greater openness towards future learning and relationships. It does n’t matter where we start on the triangle. (But it does matter that we are going around it in a positive way! For example,using intentionally inaccurate knowledge of a religion can foster misunderstandings and poor relationships leading to unwarranted negative perceptions about that religion).

Here is Eboo Patel on the Interfaith Triangle in his own words

”The more I studied this area, the more I started to see attitudes, knowledge, and relationships as three sides of a triangle. If you know some (accurate and positive) things about a religion, and you know some people from that religion, you are far more likely to have positive attitudes toward that tradition and that community. The more favorable your attitude, the more open you will be to new relationships and additional appreciative knowledge. A couple of cycles around this triangle, and people from different faiths are starting to smile at each other on the streets instead of looking away or crossing to the other side.”

From ‘Sacred Ground’ and taken from an article in the Huffington Post by Josh Stanton


on Sabbatical

This term I am on sabbatical – study leave away from the Chaplaincy. After 21 years since ordination it’s a time for refreshment and study. And after ten years as a Chaplain I am having time to reflect on some key experiences of the work.

The idea of sabbatical originates from Judaism and it’s weekly ‘Shabbat’ – day of rest. Theoretically sabbaticals come every seven years but that seems rarely to be the case. Anyway, it’s a time for taking stock, for getting re-energised and hopefully spending some time being reminded of the key reasons why I got into this way of life in the first place.

It will not be a surprise to some readers that I am reading about conversation and dialogue between people from different cultures, religions and world views! These are the recurring themes of my work as a university chaplain.

So, in straight forward style, I started exploring ‘conversation’ with a seven-day silent retreat in France. But more about that and the links between ‘silence’ and ‘conversation’ another time.

A bientot!