Recently, I came to a difficult decision. I have accepted that the time has come for me to leave Interfaith America. The decision in question was not that of taking another position, nor that of actually deciding to leave IA. The decision was one of acceptance of the currents of time and its implications.
Leaving people and a place you love is not easy. Wrapped within the leaving is the pain of loss, itself evidence of love. Acceptance has been a process of facing, acknowledging, and flowing with what I believe is the underlying purpose in the currents of time.
Running Thread grew out of a desire to express in some way what I have felt to be the deeper meaning of civic interfaith work. A decade ago, I began writing the IA Board of Directors updates of what we – a much younger organization then – were up to in a given week. A bullet list felt ridiculously superficial. So began a practice of staring at a blank sheet and wrestling out some tie between the wider world and the mere descriptions of our accomplishments for the week.
That note began to get forwarded around and shared more widely, but still no more than a simple email that readers would often reply to and start a conversation on a shared thread. As we developed the Interfaith America Magazine and ramped up our ongoing communications, it eventually morphed into the Running Thread. IA has grown five-fold or so since I began in 2012, and this circulation list is now much more vast.
My expressions in this column, like my work at IA, has always been grounded in my search for the constitutive elements of a healthy civic fabric. Sometimes it’s lifted up stories shared on our platform, sometimes it’s recovered historical episodes of breakage and reconnection, sometimes I have used it to muse over various art forms. But it has honestly felt to me like it’s always been about the same singular search.
“Constitutive elements” is perhaps a fancy academic way of putting it – but I like that it echoes both a constitutional framework for a nation and that which constitutes the whole. Interfaith cooperation, for me, is implied by the First Amendment, so in that regard, is a necessary element for a healthy, religiously diverse democracy. Necessary, but not sufficient.
My proclivities have always been with the whole. So, naturally, my next step involves a focus on what I think is another necessary (but insufficient) element: free inquiry and expression. I’ll be pursuing this focus with the University of Chicago and a newly launched forum. I do so well aware that whether in interfaith work or in free expression, bridging and connection is needed. Tone, intent, curiosity, and humility all come in to play.
While I make this transition, part of me will remain. I do believe that those places and those people with which we have shared our minds, hearts, and souls retain something of us. And for both the giving and the receiving, I am ever grateful.
American Civic Life
American Civic Life
Amid Catholic Opposition, States are Legalizing Composting of Human Remains
Running Thread: “Curiosity May Have Killed The Cat…But You’ll Be Fine.”