Saturday, November 3, 2012

'Bibimbap' and Inter-religious Dialogue

 Bibimbap, meaning mixed rice, is a common Korean dish. A bowl of warm rice is topped with seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste and, usually, an egg and ground beef, tossed together before eating.  On the left, representatives of seven of the largest religious groups in Korea gather before a container of bibimbap ingredients ready for mixing."

There was enough bibimbap for over a thousand in attendance at a field meet of the different religious groups which were later divided into a  white and a blue team. The white team was called 'communication'; the blue, 'harmony'.  The usual games and sports helped to break down some of the walls between the different groups.

This is the first time in Korea that such an event was held and it is a good sign of what the different religious groups want to see happen. The bishop-president of the Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Inter-religious Dialogue for the Catholic bishops was elected president of the Korean Conference of Religion and Peace (KCRP). At that time he said society  has difficulty in accepting  people in religion who are in conflict with each other.  The different representatives all have the desire that with these meetings there will be more  activity in breaking down some of the misunderstandings among  religious people and nurturing more respect for the different doctrines and faiths.

The executive director of the KCRP told those present that the meeting together of the different religions will help build a religious culture that will strive for understanding  of one another.

The Christian efforts at ecumenical meetings have been ongoing but meetings of non-Christian religious orders with Christians is not something often seen.

In the diocese of Incheon this month, the Anglican, Methodist, and Catholic choirs got together at the Catholic cathedral for a concert. The Methodist choir sang for the first segment of the concert, the Anglicans followed, and then the Catholics. The fourth segment included the three choirs singing together. This will be repeated in November at the Methodist Church and then at the Anglican Church.

Efforts at trying to break down the walls  between religions seem necessary if religion is to be a force for understanding and love, something not readily seen in the world today. These  efforts will not go unnoticed and hopefully will be imitated in other parts of the world.

The fear of many, of course, is that what is considered truth by one group may be compromised. Pope John Paul said, however, that all religions should be saying: Yes, we believe with our whole heart, but we do not want to impose anything we propose. What is proposed should always be offered with love and respect.

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