Yoga and Insights on Intercultural Community - Dianne Hope
La Règle d'Or Parmi les Religions du Monde Treize Textes Sacrés
You may ask, "What is the connection between yoga and intercultural community?" Let me explain. I was lying in shavasana at the end of my most recent yoga class when I had an “ah ha” moment. After a bit of an internal struggle and a few tortuous drives from my new residence, I had decided to change yoga studios, leave my favourite yoga teacher and seek out a new studio closer to home. As I lay in shavasana that Tuesday I realised how much I was enjoying yoga practice
with my new instructor. Yes, it was different, but it still met my needs and offered new and enjoyable approaches. In addition, I was able incorporate techniques I had learned at my previous studio in this new approach.
I realised that forming intercultural community can involve similar steps to those I went through during my change to a new yoga studio – struggle with an existing situation, a decision to make a change, making the change, and finally experiencing the new (hopefully joyful) way of being.
At its best, intercultural community makes space for all to feel comfortable to be fully themselves, for all to know that their unique gifts and talents are valued and that the community is willing to be shaped by their presence. I believe deep joy and satisfaction can be found in such community.
The making of this space in a community can however, involve much internal struggle and even interpersonal conflict, as individuals summon the courage to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations. Participants in the intercultural journey have to be willing to listen to perspectives that are different from their own and may have to sit with the discomfort of realizing how their privilege and power can be caught up in the marginalization of others. Then comes the decision to intentionally work towards making space in organizational structures, traditional practices and personal interactions for those who are different - be it difference of race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic standing (and this is not an exhaustive list by any means).
As an Afro-Caribbean-Canadian woman, a member of the laity in a community of faith made up primarily of persons of European descent, it can be difficult to initiate the conversations that lead to a deep dive into the topics of bias, privilege, distribution of power and the changes that would be needed to form an intercultural, as opposed to multicultural community. I have initiated and/or participated in carefully curated activities such as Black History Month services, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, and a Lenten Bible study incorporating materials from the DUIM course. I have made suggestions for more inclusive representations in visual materials used during worship services. I have also held leadership positions in our community. The positive responses I have experienced in these situations are uplifting and I can feel in them moments of genuine intercultural encounter.
I pray and look forward to a time when an intercultural lens permeates all we do, a day when leadership and congregants are intentional about embarking on the exploration that will lead us further and deeper on the intercultural journey.
Dianne considers much of her life has been an intercultural journey and is so pleased to represent the United Church on FILL. As a retired educator and a DUIM course alumnus, she welcomes opportunities to help facilitate courses offered by FILL.
Interfaith is intercultural! Due to the intrinsic relationship between culture and religion, intercultural dialogue is also an interfaith dialogue.
In our intercultural/interfaith dialogue, we focus both on our commonalities and differences. To emphasize one commonality among different religious groups, we share this Golden Rule poster by Paul McKenna.
To find out more how this resource is being used to enhance interfaith dialogue and further interfaith resources, click here
. To download the poster in English, click here
The Golden Rule poster is also now available in 9 different languages
FILL's Theology and Research Group: Mandate & Purpose Emo Yango
Did you know that FILL has a Theology and Research Group? The group is made up of four individuals: Nestor Medina (Emmanuel College), Harry Lafond (Roman Catholic), Susie McPherson Derendy (Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre) and Emo Yango (United Church of Canada). The initial mandate for this working group is to prepare a framework towards constructing a theology of interculturality. It is supposed to guide and inform the FILL Reference Group with a clear theological delineation of interculturality.
Accordingly, the FILL’s Theology and Research Working Group has adopted the following as its mandate and purpose:
1) The celebration of the diverse voices of the church as communities willing and able to be part of the conversation, with the recognition that each of us speak from different ethnocultural vantage points.
2) To acknowledge that each of us comes to the table with our own unique experiences and diverse theological traditions. To that end, our purpose is to wrestle with and interrogate the available language and to develop/create new language to speak about intercultural exchanges.
3) Of particular importance is the need to reflect on what we mean by the notion of interculturality.
4) As part of our objective, we are committed to challenging the separation between theory and practice as a false dualism, and to reclaim the lived-experiences of people on the ground as sources of theological material.
5) The challenging of this false dualism, which is expressed in many other ways, will mean to also challenge Western Eurocentric and Euro-Canadian-centred forms of knowledge and doing church which discount other forms of learning, along with other forms of knowledge, of doing theology, and other forms living life.
6) Conversely, this interrogation will hopefully lead us to the celebration and valuing of Indigenous cultural traditions and knowledges, as well as the celebration and valuing of the many other ethnocultural and epistemological traditions that call Canada home.
Through the work of the Theology and Research Group, we hope it also contributes to the developing discourse of interculturality in Canadian context.