Newsletter September 2013

Dear Friends,
Salaam!  This is the autumn newsletter of the Muslim/Christian Marriage Support group.
Here are the dates of our meetings in Hammersmith, West London  this autumn:
 
Sunday September 22nd and 
Sunday November 24th. 
We meet at our usual venue ( RSVP for directions) from 1.30- 4.30 pm
Anyone in a Muslim-Christian or inter faith marriage , relationship or family is welcome, children too .    It’s a friendly gathering and an opportunity to meet and talk about whatever’s on your mind  with others who have experience in common.
Bring and share food if you like, snacks and drinks will also be available.  Cost is 5 pounds per couple to cover room hire.
For more info contact us by email:  interfaith.marriage@yahoo.co.uk
or phone 07443 528 084
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Zara’s documentary
‘My Secret Heart’ is a feature length documentary Directed by Zara Afzal and Producer Christopher Hird. The film is about British Muslim women in a relationship /marriage with a non muslim man. We are looking for couples to feature in our film to share their experience of being in an interfaith / cross cultural relationship.  We are currently in production, and are also keen to hear from couples who may converted to either faith to share their story.  The nature of the documentary is a very personal one to the director as the director is in an interfaith marriage herself, therefore the film will engage in an empathic way with the very real and tender struggles between individual desires and cultural familial identity.  From the perspective of the coupes themselves the film will show the paradoxical aspect that faith can have in the realities of today’s world.
 
We’re looking for people in the U.K to take part in this film project to share personal stories and/or discuss their views. Interviews will be conducted in individuals’ homes and there is no pay for being interviewed or participating in the film.   
 
For more information, you can visit www.mysecretheartfilm.com.  If you are interested in participating please contact Zara directly on zygofilms@gmail.com.
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For Christians and others wanting to understand more about Islamic beliefs and culture a group member recommends
Chris Hewer’s video series : here’s his introduction.
I am pleased to announce that the twelve-part first series of Understanding Islam, developed in collaboration with Ahl ul-Bayt TV, has now been broadcast.  You can find a link to all the videos on YouTube on the “Big Picture” page under the “UI Course” button on my website.  There is an article to go with each episode that supplies additional information; these can be downloaded in pdf format at the same place.
These twelve articles, compiled as one document, can also be downloaded by clicking on this link or from the “Books” page under the “Written Resources” button on the website.The second twelve-part series, “Standing before God,” will begin broadcasting on 18thAugust (Sky satellite 842) and will be available for viewing on www.ahlulbayt.tv in the OnDemand section and on YouTube as soon as they have been re-engineered and uploaded.  The accompanying articles will be available on my own website, from the “Standing before God” page under the “UI Course” button each week and can be downloaded at will.

The episode titles for “Standing before God” are:

1.  Three forms of prayer
2.  Focus on salat
3.  The mosque in the life of Muslims
4.  The discipline of fasting
5.  United on pilgrimage
6.  The visitation of holy places
7.  Modesty: the special character of a Muslim
8.  The rituals of birth and death
9.  Angels, Jinn and the Final Judgement
10. The Imams as spiritual guides
11. Encountering the Word of God in the Qur’an
12. Sufis and the ascent to God

Finally, there is a new Short Guide to Understanding Islam, which is twice as long as the original Essence of Islam, which it is intended to replace.  It can be downloaded byclicking here or from the “Books” page under the “Written Resources” button on the website.  Please feel free to share this far and wide with friends, students, colleagues or anyone else interested.  Some groups are intending to print versions of this text to give to interested people.  Anyone wishing to do the same (without charge) is welcome to contact me.

Thanks for reading,

Dr Chris Hewer

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The Inter faith marriage guidelines one year on ..
Last November  in a brief blaze of publicity  at Westminster Abbey in an attempt to promote  better practice in the care of couples like you when an inter faith marriage is proposed  some of our group were present when the Christian Muslim Forum launched guidelines on the pastoral care of inter faith marriage. You can read them here :  When Two faiths meet: Marriage, Family and Pastoral care. 

http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/images/When%20Two%20Faiths%20Meet%20guidelines.pdf

Since then the process to win hearts and minds has continued : the Christian Muslim Forum is  encouraging those who have pastoral responsibilities in faith communities to explore how they might respond to inter faith couples in more ethical, humane and constructive ways without jeopardising their core faith values :  if you’re in Lancashire would be great to see you at the event below organised by Anjum Anwar around the guidelines for an Inter faith audience on Blackburn.

More such events are in the pipeline including a morning seminar on inter faith marriage at St Philip’s Centre in Leicester  on 26th November. If you are or know of a  Muslim Christian couple in the Leicester area would you be interested in joining  us that day?

Christian-Muslim Marriage, Blackburn

Inter faith marriages are not new phenomena but for many it is something which is seldom discussed.  exChange of Blackburn Cathedral is delighted to invite you to hear the work of Christian Muslim Forum on the subject of

“Marriages between Christians and Muslims.”

Last October 2012, guidelines were launched at Westminster Abbey on the subject of “Interfaith Marriages.”  The work was undertaken by Mrs. Heather Al-Yousuf, who has vast experience of what it is like to be married to someone of a different faith, and the challenges it can present.  Whether one agrees or not to marriages between different faiths, it is important to provide support to those who find themselves in this situation.

You are cordially invited to hear Julian Bond, Director of Christian Muslim Forum and Heather Al-Yousuf in conversation with Anjum Anwar, Dialogue Development Officer and Revd Shannon Ledbetter, Community Canon at Blackburn Cathedral.

Date:     26 September 2013
Time:    1 – 3 p.m.
Venue: Blackburn Cathedral

For further information and to reserve your place, please call Anjum Anwar on 01254 503081/0have pastraol 7903 731106 or email anjum.anwar@blackburncathedral.co.uk, or use the booking link below.

http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/index.php/calendar?task=view_event&event_id=79

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In  London on Sunday October 13th St Ethelburgas is holding its annual walk to raise funds for their brilliant work on inter faith understanding and conflict resolution.  Here’s what they say about it:

The Ethelburga Walk on Sunday October 13th is our major fundraising event of the year. It follows a 9 mile route between two sites associated with St Ethelburga  – Barking Abbey and St Ethelburga’s Centre. It runs through an intriguing part of East London, mostly through green spaces and along canal towpaths, avoiding roads. It’s easy going and should take an average walker less than four hours.

There’ll be storytelling, music and refreshments en route to give you a great day out for a good cause. Children and dogs welcome!

The Route

We start at 12.30pm at Barking Abbey, founded by St Ethelburga in the 7th Century. We’ll hear her story performed in the ruins of the abbey. The route follows the Greenway a quiet footpath through East London with the great views of Canary Wharf in the distance. After passing the amazing building of the Abbey Mills pumping station  we take a break by the Bow river at Three Mills with refreshments and music. We then follow canal towpaths past the Olympic stadium and into Victoria Park.

The Regents Canal takes us on towards Bethnal Green and after crossing Weavers Fields we go down Brick Lane, whose mosque was once a Huguenot chapel and then a synagogue. Finally we reach the gleaming towers of the City where a party awaits walkers at St Ethelburga’s Centre with refreshments, massage for weary feet, and live music.

Pre-walk service

We are invited to join the congregation of St Margaret’s Church, next to Barking Abbey, for their morning service at 11.00 am followed by coffee.

Sponsorship

We aim to find one hundred walkers and invite each of them to persuade ten friends to sponsor them for £10 each. This will raise an amazing £10,000 which will make a huge difference to St Ethelburga’s work.

You can either download a sponsorship form here or create your own fundraising page on Just Giving a simple and way to collect sponsorship from friends, family and colleagues online.

Registration 

There is a small fee for registration for which you will receive a specially written Walk Pack (including a map and historical information about some of the places you will pass), and also refreshments en route.

When
October 13th, 2013 1:00 PM
Location
St Margaret’s Grounds
Barking
(5 mins from Barking station, volunteers will guide you from the station)
London, IG11 8AS
United Kingdom
Contact
Phone: 020 7496 1610
Email: simon@stethelburgas.org
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Some blogs and reviews of readable theology books that have come out this summer  :
July 29th Susan wrote about Reza Aslan, Muslim author of a book about Jesus ( Zealot, the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth) , in which she draws attention to his rich experience in an inter faith family and marriage .
Another Muslim scholar who has just written a book about Jesus is Prof Mona Siddiqui of Glasgow University, here’s a review of her ‘Christians, Muslims and Jesus’
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A scholarly historical exploration of some issues around the fiqh of marriage in Islam by Ziba Mir-Hosseini and others :’ Gender and equality in Muslim family law’  is reviewed here
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 At our last meeting in the summer- a delightful picnic gathering of couples and mcm support group babies in Kensington Gardens – you demonstrated quite literally how the group is growing!  Watch this space for ideas of how the group may develop in future and how you could play a part”
Best wishes to you and all your family
Heather

 

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Dear Friends,

Hi ! Salaams and Greetings to everyone.
welcome to  the february-march 2012  newsletter: first up is   this year’s   London meeting dates:    

Sunday 25 March 2012


Sunday 27 May 2012

Sunday 16 September 2012

Sunday 18 November 2012

from 1-5pm 

At The Star Centre 


St Andrew’s in the Fields

Greyhound Road

London 
W14 9SA

(Nearest tube: Barons Court for District and Piccadilly lines)

Free on street parking in local area on Sundays

RSVP if you think you would like to join us.   thanks to Amy and Takie for  their work on arranging the venue . 

If London is too far  you may like to know there are also  small groups  in  Birmingham, and Oxford , and  trusted friends of Muslim Christian marriages in Bedford,  Edinburgh, Leicester  & Nottingham   .          
Plus there’s the    facebook group for muslim christian and interfaith couples  (membership by application only)  at    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_185782491456844    

 The interfaith marriage network http://www.interfaithmarriage.org.uk/   is getting an overhaul  and  should soon be much more interactive, making it easier to  communicate, get or give  support through that medium :
 Have you any stories you’d like to tell (anonymously is fine) or pictures we could use? (harder to escape being recognised!). Please pm Rosalind or Heather..  

Michael Barnes our host  at the de Nobili centre in Southall has  always been an inspiration to us and will inshallah continue to be so for many years to come. We’re thinking about how best to mark our gratitiude to him for his open-hearted generosity and support over the years,  in the menatime  you   may be interested to know he’s  just brought out a new book on Inter religious learning http://www.amazon.co.uk/Interreligious-Learning-Spirituality-Christian-Imagination/dp/1107012848 

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One of the most frequent requests we get from new members of the group, is for us to recommend an imam or a minister who is able and willing to conduct a marriage ceremony for an inter faith couple. All of us who’ve been through this are aware of how vulnerable and anxious couples can be at this time, and how important good advice and pastoral care based on respect and support for both partners can be in helping them and their families too get off to a good start.  If your experience at this time was positive, would you consider recommending your imam or minister to add to those we can recommend to couples? We’re not going to make this info public and embarrass anyone, but we would like to be able to suggest local contacts to couples who ask us and be sure that they will be treated with care at this important time in their lives. If you could spare a minute to pass on good contacts please do drop me a line, and many thanks for your help! Heather 
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A message from Lucy in Birmingham  :
Salaam alikum I was just wondering if anyone knows of any good childrens books,showing an English/White mummy and an Asian daddy? My mum gave us “Ambers other grandparents” which is lovely, but mummy is Asian and wears a Sari so a bit different.
Many thanks
lucy
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LISTINGS :

Islam Awareness Week March 12th -18th 2012
Coming up soon is this years’ Islam Awareness Week. This year the theme is LOVE, events near you listed at http://www.iaw.org.uk/pages/page.php?id=home
“Every year, during Islam Awareness Week, we take the opportunity to try to bring to light various aspects of Islam that are misunderstood or unknown to most people. In the times that we live, we often find ourselves explaining that Islam is a religion of justice and peace. Many are increasingly curious about what Muslims stand for and what is important to them. The theme of IAW in 2012 is one that is perhaps overlooked by many, it is the concept of Love.”
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Tuesday 6th March 2012 6.00pm for 6.30pm (Refreshments available from 6:00pm) A recital of Turkish Love poetry (with readings in the Turkish original and English translation) and Turkish and English songs and instrumental music played on traditional instruments (Turkish “ud” and English “lute”).Programme presented by the Anglo-Turkish Society, but open to all.

Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre, 10 Maple Street, London, W1T 5HA (Off Tottenham Court Road, between Goodge Street and Warren Street underground stations.)

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Lectures and a conference organised by  the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue, Heythrop College, University of London Kensington Square London W8 5HQ
Comparative Theology Public Lecture and Conference Series
The Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue is pleased to invite you to a series of seminars and public lectures on themes in comparative theology, leading up to a summer conference exploring the nature of contemporary and classical forms of comparative theology. The seminar and public lectures are open to all and free of charge.  There is no need to book, but to register interest and for further information please contact Dr Martin Ganeri, Director CCID at m.ganeri@heythrop.ac.uk

Saturday 3rd March 11am – 2pm “Dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Difficult Times”, a talk and discussion led by Dr Daniel Madigan SJ SeniorFellow of the Al-Waleed Center for Muslim-ChristianUnderstanding of Georgetown University,  at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, 2 Chandler Street, Wapping, E1W 2QT (nearest stations, Wapping and Shadwell). Entrance is free but donations are welcome; please bring some lunch with you..

7th March, 6.00pm Double Belonging  A public lecture by Professor Catherine Cornille, Boston College. Prof Cornille’s publications include:  (ed.) Many Mansions? Multiple Religious Belonging and Christian Identity. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002
30th May, 2.00 pm Bishop Appasamy and Comparative Theology in India Today A public lecture by Brian Dunn, Oxford University and Friends of the Church in India

14th June, 11.00am – 4.00pm What is Comparative Theology? CCID summer conference:
With Professor Francis Clooney SJ Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard, author of Comparative Theology: Deep Learning across Religious Borders (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Professor Keith Ward, until recently Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford,  currently Professorial Research Fellow, Heythrop College, London.  Dr Michael Barnes SJ, Reader in Interreligious Relations at Heythrop College  plus Dr Martin Ganeri OP, Director of the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Relations at Heythrop College
The conference is open to all.  To book a place contact the Dr Martin Ganeri, Director CCID, at m.ganeri@heythrop.ac.uk
There is a charge of £15 for this conference to cover costs of refreshments and lunch.
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Come to the Edge: Christian and Muslim Women critically thinking together : a women’s only residential,  organised by the Christian Muslim Forum on 19/20 March 2012 at King’s Park, Action Centres UK Ltd Kings Park Road, Moulton Park
Northampton, NN3 6LL
Date: 19th & 20th March 2012
Arrival day 1: 10:45am
Departure day 2: 4pm
• Are community relations becoming harder?
• What is women’s contribution to community building?
• How can women move from the private to the public sphere?
• ‘Culture’ versus ‘religion’: What does this distinction represent?

These questions emerged from listening exercises conducted for women of both Christian and Muslim faith in London, Birmingham, Leicester, Bradford and Burnley. They will be discussed and explored at the residential conference.
The listening exercises have helped us to understand local issues at a neighbourhood level and inter faith/cultural interactions. Stories, experiences and issues from the listening exercises will inform the conference, as well as the work of the Christian Muslim Forum in the future.

Speakers: Aina Khan, Senior Consultant Solicitor,   Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Julie Siddiqui, Chief Executive of the Islamic Society of Britain, Prof Tina Beattie, Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Catholic Studies at Roehampton University

Workshops: Conversations for the Soul, facilitated by St Ethelburga’s. Christians and Muslims dialogue and relationship. Being active locally: Near Neighbours grants. Interactive and creativity workshops. Drama

For more info Tel:             01604 493111                  01604 493111       or             0207 820 0444                  0207 820 0444       or contact  zahra@christianmuslimforum.org 
In cases of need bursaries are available. Prices include refreshments, lunch, dinner and overnight
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WESTMINSTER FAITH DEBATES   We are delighted to invite you to a series of debates on religion in public life, running from February to May 2012 at RUSI, 61 Whitehall, SW1A 2ET, Wednesdays fortnightly, 5.30-7pm.
Between 2007-2012 £12m was invested by two research councils, the AHRC and ESRC, in the largest-ever funded research programme on ‘Religion and Society’. In this series leading academics will present findings arising from that research, for response by public figures. Together they will open up debate about the place of religion in public life today. The series is organised and chaired by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke, Professor Linda Woodhead and Dr Rebecca Catto, in co-operation with Theos.  1. 8th Feb  RELIGIOUS IDENTITY IN ‘SUPERDIVERSE’ SOCIETIES   Trevor Phillips, Dominic Grieve, Kim Knott, Therese O’Toole
2. 22nd Feb WHAT’S THE PLACE OF FAITH IN SCHOOLS?  Richard Dawkins, John Pritchard, Jim Conroy, Robert Jackson
3. 7th March WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ABOUT RADICALISATION? Mehdi Hasan, Ed Husain, Mark Sedgwick, Marat Shterin, Mat Francis
4. 21st March WHAT ROLE FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS IN AN ERA OF SHRINKING WELFARE? David Blunkett, Peter Smith, Adam Dinham, Sarah Johnsen
5. 18th April WHAT LIMITS TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM? Lisa Appignanesi, Maleiha Malik, Peter Jones
6. 2nd May WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRENDS IN RELIGION AND VALUES IN BRITAIN? Aaqil Ahmed, Cole Moreton,  Linda Woodhead, Grace Davie
Please email  p.ainsworth@lancaster.ac.uk to register for the debates you would like to attend, and visit http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/faith_debates for further details.
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Lectures at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK , Cardiff  (Lecture Theatre 0.36, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU). 

Tuesday 6 March, 7.00pm – Dr Sean McLoughlin 
Holy Places, contested Spaces: British Muslim experiences of Hajj. 
Tuesday 13 March, 7.00pm – Dr Serena Hussain 
Are Britain’s Muslim communities dispersing? 
Tuesday 20 March, 7.00pm – Dr Andrew Petersen 
The Archaeology of Islam in Britain.
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Friends of BibleLand Lecture, Co-operation not Conflict,
to be given by HRH Princess Badiya bint El-Hassan of Jordan  at6.30pm on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 at St James’s, Piccadilly, W1J 9LL.
Tickets are free but should be booked in advance on                         01494 897933                  01494 897933             or via email info@biblelands.org.uk
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On 4th and 5th May for two performances only, The Ramallah Theatre Company will perform Richard II in Arabic at Shakespeare’s Globe. Don’t miss this unique opportunity for your students to see a Shakespearean performance in Arabic and support the company who are travelling from Ramallah to perform here. http://www.shakespearesglobe.com

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2012 Middle East Festival: storytelling, a Moroccan Hafla , songs from Kurdistan and a Desert Wisdom two day retreat : just a few of the many events in Edinburgh’s Middle east festival : for details of these and other events organised by Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, – see main events at Middle East Festival Website: http://www.mesp.org.uk
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The 11th Building Bridges Seminar
if you would like to attend please email Tess Young (tess.young@lambethpalace.org.uk) along with your postal address.
Public Lectures – 23rd April 2012
King’s College London, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS
Death, Resurrection and Human Destiny
in Christian and Muslim Perspective
0900* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Bible – The Rt Revd Prof Tom Wright, University of St Andrews
* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Qur’an – Prof Mona Siddiqui, Edinburgh University
1100 Break
1120* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Christian Tradition – The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, Diocese in Europe
* Death, Resurrection & Human Destiny in the Islamic Tradition – Prof Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University
1300 Break
1400* Dying Well: Christian Faith and Practice – The Revd Dr Harriet Harris, Edinburgh University
1600* Dying Well: Muslim Faith and Practice – Dr Sajjad Rizvi, Exeter University

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And A FEW RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:


  • Prof Nazeer Ahmed writes about some eras of  democracy and pluralism in Islamic history, noting  the impact of their marriages with Hindu and Christian women  on the vision of some  Mughal Emperors. http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_251_300/democracy3.htm
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  • The guestbook project at Boston college on interreligious hospitality  http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/spring_2009/features/world-fare.html
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  • Lapido media’s review of new magazine Critical Muslim :http://www.lapidomedia.com/critical-muslim
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  •  a story out of Qantara. De about a muslim family with a long tradition of looking after a christian church in Palestine. http://www.silent-heroes.net/home/?q=node/247&page=0,0
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  • and  Susan Katz Milleer’s blog  ‘On Being Both’ always an inspiration to those who are trying in various ways to honour both faiths and identities in their families:
  • http://du112w.dub112.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=20110651!n=857445662&fid=1&mid=3fb80e8c-61d3-11e1-9811-00215ad9bc86&fv=1
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  • Reflections on pilgrimage and inter faith pilgrimage to the Holy Land:
  • You may have been to or read about the current Hajj expedition at the British  Museum in London: a great opportunity for non-Muslims to engage with this pillar of Muslim faith  and experience.  But could we imagine shared  pilgrimage to places significant in the faith and imagination of Muslims Christians and Jews?
  • Reflections on interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy land  by Christian Muslim and Jewish scholars at a Jerusalem symposium of the Elijah Interfaith Institute: http://www.elijah-interfaith.org/index.php?id=1097   .
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Only connect-
Family life means connecting, it can be more complicated when there are distances involved, or anxieties or bitterness about difference , but it seems to me as time goes by and we all experience losses and new arrivals in our families,  the experience of connecting is in the end the most important thing – even when it comes with pain – for families like ours –just as it is for others. Even  those  angry feelings that may come about in some mixed faith families- if you look under the surface-   are usually something to do with sadness or fear of loss- in other words they arise out of feelings of attachment and  love rather than the absence of it.

Maybe if we could see how ‘the big picture’ is made up of all our smaller pictures  we could appreciate our part in bringing the world closer, not just virtually ‘at our fingertips’ but in our flesh and blood  connections  as  couples, parents,  families and friends , across both faiths, in different countries and  different continents, even through time in  the connection between the living with those we love who have passed away.
If it isn’t easy in your family now I hope with time it will become so.
Maybe one best kept secret of inter faith couples is the experience we have of being profoundly involved at the centre of life events – the hatching matching and despatching – of our families and loved ones in  two different  faith traditions  and cultures .  Our dual belonging can mean holding them all in mind at once, and that sometimes keeps us very busy-  but it’s the best kind of busyness! I wish all the blessings of love and connection through the years to you and  all those you love.

Peace and Salaams to all
Heather