Wednesday, April 22, 2009

inter-religious exchange

Today the Edgewater Community Religious Association(ECRA), that in the past year I have become more and more actively part of was invited to as part of our monthly meeting to come out the the new Ismaili Center (Jamat Khana) in Glenview. We were given a tour of the facility, and given of the ways in which the architecture that joins a prayer hall, with gathering space, and education wing for Saturday religious education. It is a quite beautiful, and the holistic approach to faith and life as expressed in the building and in their education and training of their children in their faith/religion/spirituality is all very impressive. Slightly intimidating, especially when one realizes that there is no one who is paid to keep things going, everything from spiritual leaders to the teachers of the Saturday "Sunday Schools"(as our tour guide called them on the tour, who was a volunteer). Such commitment and dedication certainly is commendable and impressive. I could see my fellow Christian pastors nod their heads as we all kind of had the thought that it takes a lot of work to get volunteers for much less intensive activities: volunteer teachers that would spend every Saturday teaching in a religious school is simply astounding.

The whole building that includes offices, classrooms a meeting hall and prayer hall, all form a unified whole, each flowing easily and seamlessly together so that one is always aware that one is in a religious space. This particular by the repetition of heptagons and Charbahg which is symbolic to Ismailis (and at least we were told other Muslims as well. I found these geometric designs very compelling and their were panels of fabric patched together to make heptagonal designs, and the designs in the floor and fountain as a charbahg and then concentric heptagons in the ceiling resonated similarly to me as Icons. Of course geometric shapes are the underlying structure of icons.