Suggested Topics and Themes for Dialogue

As indicated in the Program Overview and Outline, a typical A Common Word local gathering is organized around one particular theme. Muslim and Christian speakers can be invited to focus their sharing around what their experience of their faith teaches them on this topic, with particular reference to scriptural texts and commentaries which address these issues. Theoretically the list of possible topics could be nearly endless. The ones suggested below have been tested in practice and found to work well in generating mutual learning and promoting the exchange of insights and gifts.

  • God: What are the most important attributes of God according to your faith? What do these tell you about how to we ought to relate to God and to others?
  • Creation: What is the ‘creation story’ in your religious tradition, and what lessons does this have for how you relate to the environment?
  • Meaning and purpose: What is the meaning and purpose of human life according to your religious tradition?
  • The role of religious faith in daily life: How do our scriptures, practices, and religious beliefs influences our daily decisions and interactions?
  • The role of faith in public society: Does you faith call you into public action? Are there limits on this? What if there is conflict between the two?
  • Justice: What does your faith tell you about confronting injustice and standing up for others, especially the vulnerable and oppressed?
  • Revelation: What is the role of revelation in your religious tradition? Are there intermediaries for revelation and for the interpretation of revelation? Who are they? How are they tested and accountable?
  • Sacred Scriptures: What are the main scriptures spoken in your religious tradition? What kind of importance do they have?
  • Prophets/saints: Do influential and memorable persons within the history of your religious tradition offer important inspiration and example for living life and caring for the world?
  • Sin, repentance, and forgiveness: How do you see wrongdoing or sin in relation to yourself or others or God? How is one forgiven in light of sin or evil for which one is responsible?
  • Hope and trust: What in your religious tradition gives and sustains your hope in the face of trials and tribulations? To whom or what do you turn when you are overwhelmed with hardships?
  • Prayer: What is the purpose of prayer? Where and how does it happen? Who leads?
  • Religious Community: Is the whole community of believers an important part of your faith tradition? What is it for? What differences or splits exist in your community? Do you see your community as separate from the world or as part of it?
  • Structure and leadership in the faith community: How is your community of believers organized? Who exercises power? What kind of power do they have?
  • Stewardship, Tithing, and Charity: What does your faith tradition say about giving to others and helping the less fortunate?
  • Family: What role does the family play in your religious tradition? How are we to understand relationships with parents, siblings, children, spouses, etc.?
  • Children and youth: How are children understood in your religious community? What are challenges involved in handing on faith to younger generations in a diverse society?
  • Death: How does your faith respond to death? What kinds of rituals and practices are involved?
  • The life to come: What happens to people after death? Where do they go? What is their existence like?
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