August 8, 2008

Flaming Identities

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:44 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

When I began interfaith activities I never thought about the Flaming Chalice needing to be included as a symbol among the rest.  My daughter, a life-long UU says she finds it odd to see a collection of religious symbols without the chalice. 

Some time ago our local Interfaith group began a practice of beginning large events with a ritual, adapted from Rabbi Joseph Gellman, of lighting one central candle to represent the “one truth” and then to light an “interfaith menorah.”  Each votive in the menorah represents a particular religion; the Star of David for Judaism, a nine pointed star for the Bahia tradition, a quartered circle for “Native American Traditions,” and even a Yin-Yang circle to represent the Taoist Tradition.  As we lit each one we say, for example: “We light a candle for the the Sikh tradition.  We welcome its wisdom.”  Or words to that effect. 

When my friend George Wolfe first introduced this practice I remembered a Muslim friend who once told me that some Muslims don’t like the Crescent and Star image because it is associated with the Ottoman Empire and is a little too much like an idol.  I asked him what he would prefer and after a bit of thought he wrote down the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic. 

But as I looked at the eight symbols I felt that my issue was not to promote Muslim, but UU, awareness.  There was no Flaming Chalice.  For a few minutes I wondered if the chalice really was equivalent to the others, or fit just fine in that funny cluster of stars that represented “All other traditions present.”  But then I realized that the Yin-Yang does not represent an active tradition in Muncie so much as the religions of East Asia in general.  So I asked that we change that one with a Flaming Chalice. 

Now, in Muncie, we are flaming Unitarian Universalists and proud of it.

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