Young Interfaith at Monash

This looks really interesting:

Melanie Landau of Monash Jewish Studies alerted me to her department’s involvement in a young interfaith training seminar.

If the intellectual rigour and innovation that characterises Landau’s research is reflected in this event, it could be really exciting.

Skills for Interfaith Youth Leadership and Service

A free public talk introducing the work of IFYC to Victoria—all welcome!

November 16 2009: 2pm – 4pm

Room H1.16, Monash University
Caulfield Campus

Register for this talk


We believe in the power of young people to lead across religious, ethnic and cultural differences to better their communities.

We believe that such leadership is necessary for peace in the 21st century.

At this free public talk hosted by the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific, Monash University, in partnership with Inter. Action Multifaith Youth Network, and sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, IFYC trainers, Cassie Meyer and Jenan Mohajir, will introduce you to the work of the Interfaith Youth Core.

The IFYC is a Chicago-based international non-profit organisation that is building a movement of interreligious and intercultural cooperation through youth leadership and community service. The IFYC trainers are widely recognised as leaders in the field of interfaith relations in and beyond the US.

Come learn how you can be the change in your community by building bridges between groups, organizing social action projects, and visioning cooperation in your community.

For more information on the IFYC please visit

For more information on the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) Public Talk @ Monash, Skills for Interfaith Youth Leadership and Service, November 16 -18 2009 email

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11 Responses to “Young Interfaith at Monash”

  1. We believe that such leadership is necessary for peace in the 21st century.

    I would argue that even with the best of intentions, such as interfaith dialogue, peace will remain an unattainable aspiration whilst there exist religions with conflicting ideologies and within each religion, proponents with fundamentalist beliefs.


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    • Alex Fein says:

      Hi Michael.

      On the one hand, I agree completely.

      I can’t personally envisage how such an interfaith programme would work. I’ve written about the need to dismantle the highly organised, top-down approach of glad-handing, and disingenuousness.

      After Operation Cast Lead, we saw exactly how useful all the interfaith boovelling between our leaders and the Muslim leaders had been. Tits on a bull, as Wordsworth might have said.

      To think of all the kosher nibblies and non-alcoholic drinks wasted! As soon as trouble actually started in Gaza, the two groups yelled at each other a bit and then cut off relations. It was a worrying time that in large part led to the creation of this blog.

      Obviously, my philosophy is that real interfaith work cannot ever be done effectively by any leadership in any community. They’re just too constrained and too politically oriented.

      But this event may be different.

      My curiosity and optimism is based in Melanie Landau’s (one of the organisers) record of amazing scholarship, intellectual rigour, and low tolerance for the disingenuous.

      That UNESCO is also involved is a bit of a worry, but there’s no point in my having an opinion on any of this if I don’t attend the two hours it’ll take.

      Because what if it is really good? What if there are heaps of ideas that haven’t yet occurred to anyone in the community? What if there are great people there who are also interested in forging genuine ties?

      There might be none of those things, it might be terrible….

      So what?

      I – and any other attendee – lose two hours.

      I like to weigh up cost/benefit in cases like this, and in this case, the answer’s a bit of a no-brainer.

  2. Morry says:

    I have never had a lot of faith in interfaith dialogue that’s based in being familiarised with the other religions. It’s something I find commendable in people wishing to learn and advance their own knowledge, but different faiths are, almost by definition, mutually exclusive, and discussing them in a forum, especially the points where they contradict your own, can only lead to disharmony. It’s why those points are so studiuosly avoided so as not to cause offence. A Seder will be organised with no wine, for example, so as not to offend Moslems, but then, surely you’ve misrepresented the seder and robbed it of an element of understanding. Do we as Jews need to understand the mechanism of Jesus’ resurrection to be tolerant of Christianity?

    Rather than trying to understand each others religions, if interfaith meetings were geared simply towards increasing tolerance in each group and finding ways to foster tolerance (which really doesn’t require an understanding of the other’s religion, only of their right to practice it however they do see it), I think interfaith dialogue could actually achieve a lot.

    Clearly if we could make tolerance universal, conflicts would die a deserved death, and harmony would reign supreme.

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  3. Sisu says:

    Interfaith should *not* be about accepting different viewpoints as true, but in recognising that one faith does not have the complete answer. If there is a higher being (or beings!) then surely faith is one way of perceiving that Being; and each faith sees that Being through its own perceptions.

    Tolerance is not the answer…. it implies that you put up with the Other’s point of view.

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    • Morry says:

      Sisu, having faith, almost by definition, means that you have the whole answer … for yourself. Tolerance means that you recognise that whilst your truth is whole for you, you understand the nature of faith and that somebody else’s truth may be whole for them, but different … and that there is no inherent contradiction until you insist that the other follows your faith, a position that has led to a lot of death and destruction, and today defines the Islamist position.

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    • Alex Fein says:

      Sisu, I love this!

      You beautifullly articulate much of what I believe on this matter.

  4. Mohan says:

    Much as I support the right of individuals to practice religions, I would like intelligent people to question the basisi of antiquated faiths. Most of the religions emerged in meideval and pre-medeival times and reflected the knowledge and outlooks of their times. It would be quite sensible to liberate ourselves from outworn doctrines, otherwise one would have to be a evolutinist in the class room and a creationist in the place of worship. Beleive in the rift valley origin as an archaelogist and Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden as a worshipper.

    Believe in anti-biotics as a doctor or patient and excorcism as a reader of the bible.

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  5. Mohan says:

    That is exactly the problem, either you believe in evidence based reason or you don’t. Of course, one could choose to disbelieve gravity and jump out of a window.

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    • Alex Fein says:

      Mohan, please re-read my previous reponse to you. You are arguing at cross purposes with me. That faith and reason need not be mutually exclusive is not a particularly new idea, and certainly not my own.

  6. Mohan says:

    Well I will let it rest. What I see is a lack of unity between precept and practice or knowledge and action. Faith and knowledge have their own spheres they may overlap in art or poetry.

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