Growth, exposure, inclusion and bubble bursting. These are just some of the things this year’s four Abrahamic Program for Young Adults coordinators are hoping to get out of their summer at Chautauqua Institution.
There seems to be a smartphone app for everything these days — social media, weather forecasts and even an app that shows the exact direction of Mecca. And that’s just one of the many apps that are made specifically for Muslims.
If there is anything that regularly challenges belief in God, it’s the existence of the ungodly. Evil and suffering have been frequent visitors to Chautauqua Institution, both as topics of discussion — for example, during the Interfaith Lecture Series’ week on emancipation — and as experiential realities. While some may think otherwise, Chautauqua isn’t paradise; evil and suffering happen here every day.
Jawad Bayat’s mouth is parched. He’s standing at the front of the Hall of Christ, shoes off, facing Mecca.
It’s Ramadan, and he can’t eat or drink until dark. [w/ VIDEO]
The coordinators of the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults shared with the Daily their personal reactions to Week Two’s theme of “The Next Greatest Generation.” Comprising of four coordinators representing Judaism, Christianity and Islam, APYA develops programs geared specifically toward generating interfaith dialogue among young adults at Chautauqua Institution.
In her application for the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, Farrah Walji referenced the Quran: “[We] have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another.” To truly know one another, Walji argued in her essay, there needs to be interfaith dialogue.
Like so many vacationers, John Jureller and Mary Giegengack Jureller expected their trip in the summer of 1992 to result in relaxation, with entertainment and quaint sights and, maybe, if they were lucky enough to stumble upon a decent place, church on Sunday morning. But the Jurellers were going to Chautauqua.
“You can’t often find a vacation place where you can expect to have your spiritual life nourished and expanded. Mostly you go searching about for a church that’s tolerable,” Mary said. “We found the Sunday morning ecumenical service here just wonderfully enriching.”
Since finding Chautauqua much better than “tolerable” — both spiritually and in other regards — the Jurellers of Syracuse, N.Y., have returned for another 20 seasons.
Editor’s Note: With the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults concluding its 2012 Season activities this weekend, the Daily asked the four coordinators to write a reflection on their experiences at Chautauqua.
At Wednesday’s weekly Trustees Porch Discussion on the Hultquist Center porch, the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, director of the Department of Religion, spoke with Chautauquans about “Chautauqua as an Interfaith Community.”
When Campbell arrived at Chautauqua about 12 years ago, the Institution had just begun to “put its toe in the water” of becoming an Abrahamic community, with outreach to the Jewish community.
That was not difficult, she said, because there were already many Jews living on the grounds.
“I think one of the great traits of Chautauqua as an interfaith community is that we are a lived-in community, not just a dinner party that people have to introduce each other to people of other faiths,” she said. “People live here and live together. I think it’s a much deeper and profound way in which to begin an interfaith knowledge of one another.”
Last Thursday, as the rains showered from the sky onto the grounds at Chautauqua, a group of about 30 people warmed the cool night air with conversation and camaraderie as they tucked into a potluck feast on the Alumni Hall porch.
The event, a pre-Ramadan dinner sponsored by the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, was facilitated by the organization’s coordinators but included participants from all walks of life. The tables, overflowing with samosas, hummus, quinoa, lasagna, macaroni and chocolate cake, reflected the multicultural nature of the dinner’s guests.
The coordinators called the event an Iftar, referring to the meal Muslims have after sunset to break their fast during the month of Ramadan. In the Muslim religion, Ramadan is a month of inner reflection and devotion that includes fasting — abstaining from food, drink and sex — from sunrise to sunset.