Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Different Kind of Mission

There's a certain contrast between the work I spoke of in my last post, on Eden and Jim Grace and their Quaker outreach in Kenya, and the work of the writer I'd like to draw attention to today.

Andras Corban Arthen is well known among Pagans, especially in the Northeast, for his leadership in the EarthSpirit Community. Perhaps he is somewhat less known for his interfaith work with the Parliament of World Religions.

Andras has published a really moving account of his participation in the World Interreligious Encounter (Encuentro Mundial Interreligioso)in Monterrey, Mexico, this past September. His descriptions of his interactions with representatives of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and of his own reactions and his reception as a representative of "one of the indigenous European pagan traditions" were especially meaningful for me.

On one level, the work of the Grace's, as "missionaries" (a loaded word they purposely explored in a workshop we attended this past summer) and Andras' work to raise awareness of the importance of preserving indigenous religious practices, are in some tension. But on another, deeper level, both embody the qualities of respect, reciprocity, and humility that I think are the hallmarks of those who are really walking their religious talk. This seems to have been a theme of the work of the Parliament of World Religions, in fact, and maybe it's a hopeful note in a time of violence and fear.

When we really listen to one another, we find so much to love.

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