Meet Your Neighbor series to examine age-old religious questions

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Carmel Interfaith Alliance will examine some age-old religious questions in its Meet Your Neighbor series.

Alliance President Jerry Zehr, who will serve as moderator, said panel participants will be from the interfaith alliance.

This is the third year of the free public series but the first conducted by a panel. The first of three Meet Your Neighbor topics will be “Exploring Viewpoints on Free Will and Evil in the World” at 7 p.m. Oct 16.  The other presentations will be “Exploring Perspectives on the Nature of God and the Purpose of Life” at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 and “Exploring Perceptions of Heaven and Hell” at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. All presentations will be in Carmel Clay Public Library’s program room.

“There are some traditions who don’t believe in the devil,” said Zehr, pastor of Carmel Christian Church. “How do they understand evil?  Is it from people? Where does evil come from? Does it come it come from God? Is it just people’s choices?”

Zehr said religions have different views on who gets to heaven or hell. He said the panel also will discuss the Hindu religion’s belief in reincarnation.

“We also will talk about some of our misconceptions of our faith traditions and what we have in common as well,” Zehr said.

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck Rabbi Dennis Sasso, a Carmel resident, will take part in the Oct. 23 panel.

“What is beautiful about a community, both in small and large expressions, is the ability to look at the world and important values and to express them with conviction, but (also) with respect,” Sasso said. “One of the problems is that in our society, we tend to think of ideas and truths in absolute matters. I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m good, you’re bad. What this type of conversation allows us to do is to look at truth from a different perspective, to understand that narratives, stories and religions may not be about the truth but the truths we hold dear and how we live by them and how we can share them with others with respect and not with antagonism.” 

Sasso said the discussion allows participants to elevate the discourse to a level of respect and consideration for one another.

“After all, that is what being neighbors is, recognizing our differences and appreciating our uniqueness,” he said. “At the same time, sharing what is common to all of us, our common humanity.”

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