A Christian, Jew and Muslim bumped into each other. . .
No, this is not the familiar start of a joke, but something more serious; in fact, uplifting. After 10 years of planning, a church in Berlin, razed by East German Communists during the Soviet era, has been transformed into a common religious meeting place.
It’s the result of the three trying to find ways of uniting believers of all faiths to cultivate tolerance of each other’s beliefs and strive to live together in harmony.
These sentiments I expressed a few years ago in a column in which I likened religion to boxes, and until they’re flattened, tolerance, even hatred of each other, will remain imprisoned between four walls of churches, mosques, synagogues and cathedrals.
Construction on what is appropriately called the House of One has begun. The facility will have separate prayer areas joined by a common meeting space. It will have a synagogue, mosque and church linked through a central meeting area.
The foundation stone for the structure took place in a ceremony in May this year, the beginning of four years of construction.
The centre will have a large hall space and people of other religions, as well as the non-religious, will be invited to events there.
This news item surely deserves front pages. It is common knowledge religion can be alienating and abused by extremists causing death and hardship of innocent civilians through on-going wars. Take China, Turkey and Syria as prime examples.
One cleric says succinctly: “There are many different ways to God, and each is a good way. It’s more than a symbol. It’s the start of a new era where we show there is no hate between us.”
This surely is a step in the right direction? I’ve always been flummoxed by the paradox found in religious groupings paying lip service to loving your neighbour more than yourself, and yet verbally knifing those who disagree with your bits of man-made dogma or ceremonial symbolism.
How about a House of One in South Africa? It would be the start of the Christian, Jew, Muslim, et al, instead of being the butt of jokes, but rather them setting the virtuous example of tolerating each other here and now.
The heaven they all envisage after death would be just reward.
CELEBS AND VIRAL