This week we held the first of our six bi-monthly workshops working in partnership with the Rose Castle Foundation and sponsored by Culham St Gabriel . We looked at the theme of “How we can be peacemakers?” and explored how the teachings from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim sacred texts bring wisdom to the issue of peacemaking.
One of the tools used at Rose Castle is called Scriptural Reasoning. This is a practice where representatives from different religious traditions and worldviews come together to read sections from their sacred texts or significant carriers of meaning. It is through a dialogue around these significant texts that a deeper appreciation of other perspectives can emerge and also a greater appreciation for one’s own positionality. There will be times when opinions will be irreconcilable, but that does not mean that relationships need to break down. In learning to navigate this difference we can become peacemakers able to transform conflict.
At the start of this session Dr Sarah Snyder talked about the origins of Scriptural Reasoning and the underlying principles that the practice is built on. Sarah, Miriam and Nadiya then demonstrated how these principles are worked out in practice. Each of the three readers chose a text to share and then discussed what it meant and how it impacted their lived experiences through practical interpretations of the texts.
Miriam started reading a section from the Talmud about Aaron’s desire to bring about peacemaking through taking direct action. The text is from one of the minor tractates of the Talmud, written in the Tannaitic period, 10-220 CE. After reading the text a conversation took place with Sarah and Nadiya explored in more detail some of the challenging parts.
Sarah then read from Matthew 5 in the New Testament, a sermon given by Jesus to a large crowd on the shore of Lake Galilee known as the Beatitudes. Many Christians read this sermon as a manifesto for believers today, just as much as the 1st century in which Jesus lived. After reading the text Miriam and Nadiya asked questions to explore what it meant to Sarah and why she chose it to illustrate peacemaking.
Finally Nadiya read from Surah 49 in the Qur’an. One report states that these verses were revealed after two people exchanged insults, which then escalated. A conversation then developed about when it was appropriate to speak truth to power. Miriam and Sarah then explored more about the similarities and differences in the three texts.
At the end of the session there was a chance for participants to ask questions about the texts and also about the process of Scriptural reasoning. For those who were unable to attend the session we have made available the text packs that were used containing the readings from the three sacred texts and the recording for you to watch and see just what a fascinating process this can be. We do hope that you will be able to join us for the second session coming up in September.