Wisdom Newsletter | Reaching Community

In this issue:
1. Thinking of Friendship – the Next Stage
2. Atlanta Religious Leaders Reflect on Friendship
3. Friendship corner
4. Memory in the Religious Life – Elijah’s Summer School


1. Thinking of Friendship – the Next Stage

Elijah’s “Make Friends” campaign has reached millions of people. Elijah, in partnership with the Center for Law and Religious Studies at Brigham Young University and Global Covenant Partners, brought together a dozen scholars and thinkers to consider how to deepen the reasoning and call for action, that grow out of our friendship initiative. The group met for several days at Emory University, and benefited from the welcome and hospitality of the Candler School of Theology. This think-tank included representatives from diverse religious traditions and hailing from different parts of the world. The Friendship campaign, it was unanimously recognized, is urgent. Even amidst our differences, and regardless of the theological views of one religion towards another, there is a need for greater unity, solidarity, common purpose and common action if we are to survive and even more so if we are to flourish. There is no room for hate, under any circumstance. Hate is destructive to self and other. It undermines society and its wellbeing and is contrary to the higher vision of all traditions.

The scholars also recognized that each friendship is unique and the path towards friendship cannot be limited to particular experiences or patterns. However, in all cases, encounter is the first step. Face-to-face encounter cannot be replaced by “virtual” meeting, so circumstances may need to be created were people can meet each other with a sense of security.

Substantial time was spent discussing friendship in relation to virtue ethics. Friendship is both an expression of moral virtues and the framework in which these values can be practiced. The practice of virtues through friendship will not only improve society but also have beneficial consequences relating to our habits of heart and mind, including our habits of consumption. Such virtues include humility, the quest for wisdom, (expressed also as the capacity for self-criticism and open mindedness) moderation, faithfulness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion., trust and more.

Friendship is also a source of pleasure, joy, laughter, enrichment, inspiration, growth, self-understanding, trust, support and personal flourishing.

The scholars are in the process of drafting a declaration on friendship, that will be shared with religious leaders and communities.


2. Atlanta Religious Leaders Reflect on Friendship

An important component of the Atlanta consultation was a meeting with local religious leaders. Candler School staff, along with Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders member, Imam Plemon el Amin, convened the group, which reflected on friendship, in dialogue with the visiting scholars. Working in small groups, participants found inspiration in scriptural sources from traditions different from their own before tackling the question as to how interreligious friendship could be promoted and implemented locally.

Imam Plemon el Amin

Nurturing friendship, they highlighted, requires an investment of time and a lot of patience. There was also a strong feeling that interreligious friendship needs to be taught to and encouraged between children, before they are exposed to prejudicial or hateful ideas.

They recommended to Elijah a practice that has been developed locally, a practice of joint pilgrimage to various religious destinations. Interfaith Community Initiatives has developed this initiative for interreligious friendship and understanding in the Atlanta community.

One of the groups proposed a fourfold “charter” of friendship based on the following principles. Be curious about one another; be confident as you hold true to your own faith tradition; be compassionate as you seek to meet your neighbour’s needs; be open to the cosmic possibility of the Divine presence where two or more are in relationship.

A beautiful slogan for interreligious friendship was proposed by another of the groups:

“I see you, I hear you, I honour you.”


3. Friendship corner

This month, Amma, a member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders and a force for peace and understanding in today’s world, shares her thought on the unity of all things and how love is the binding force and how friendship is recognition of that unity.
Click on the image below to listen to Amma.


4. Memory and the Religious Life – Elijah’s Summer School

Registration is now open for our 2018 summer school.

Our theme is “Memory and the Religious Life” and your setting is the holy city of Jerusalem, a place which manifests sacred memories.

In addition to learning from religious leaders and scholars from around the world, you will explore and learn from the city herself.

You will also meet people of diverse religious traditions who come to Jerusalem because they are are committed to sharing wisdom and fostering peace.

An opportunity not to be missed!
Click here to register and for more details.