Shuck and Jive

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hinduism in the Bible Belt

Our Jesus Seminar the on the Road conference finished a few hours ago. In my next post I will gather my notes and offer a summary of this enlightening event. From conversations with participants it appears that we will hold another one next year. I want to talk about one of the points made during the conference on this post.

Hal Taussig talked about five characteristics that he observed in over 1000 progressive congregations in the United States. One of those characteristics is that progressive Christian communities value the insights of other religions.
Progressive Christians affirm that truth comes in many forms. Being Christian does not mean being exclusive.

First Presbyterian of Elizabethton is certainly progressive in this aspect. For example, on Wednesday evenings we have a meditation group. Through the insights of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity we meditate and receive encouragement to do so. This is considered a ministry of our congregation. Here is an activities directory describing our ministries.

During our worship services we include prayers from other traditions. Tomorrow, during worship, we will include a prayer from the Hindu tradition. Through these activities we seek to build bridges with people from other traditions and affirm that God and Christ is present in all people, all living things, and in Creation itself.

Today, I want to celebrate the Regional Indo-American Community Center in Kingsport, Tennessee.

This community center serves the Tri-cities area of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The "Bible Belt" is more diverse than people might think.

Many of us American Christians are ill-informed about Hinduism. By interacting with people from these traditions we can challenge our prejudices and misconceptions. We also can increase understanding and make some great friends!

It is quiz time. Who are these figures in this image from their community center and what do they represent?

Here is a closer shot.

Answers to the quiz next time!

(which means "The God in me sees and honors the God in you")

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