Hindu – Christian Dialogues

Third National Hindu-Christian Dialogue, Nov. 12-13, 2019

By Dr. Lo Sprague

The Guibord Center – Religion Inside Out continues to team with the National Council of Churches (NCC) to co-convene the NCC’s Hindu-Christian Dialogue along with the Vedanta Society of Southern California and the Sanatan Dharma Hindu Temple as local co-conveners. Dr. Rini Ghosh, member of the Guibord Center’s Board of Directors and a cherished leader of the Vedanta Society, was primarily responsible for coordinating the meeting on the local level.

The dialogues allow participants to experience the broad diversity within each community by having these events in different sacred places throughout the greater Los Angeles area. This, the third dialogue, was  held at the Sanatan Dharma Temple in Norwalk.

While most Hindu temples are dedicated to a single manifestation of God, here one has the rare and profound opportunity to experience the entire pantheon of deities present in one place.  The tour offered by our host turned into a delightfully interwoven teaching as each of the swamis spontaneously began to address  a different aspect of the deities and symbols.  The temple’s values, we soon also learned, are further manifested in their dynamic community center that offers free medical care and services for seniors and various others as well as being home for many large gatherings.

The dialogue began in earnest as everyone re-gathered from the tour. It was rich from the start. Topics were deep and engaging. Questions were penetrating.  Answers, thoughtful and illuminating. Everyone participated at some point in the two days. The evening’s entertainment  continued  to feed our appreciation of Hinduism through song, chanting and dance.

By the middle of the second morning trust was deep enough to begin to broach the difficult conversations. How do we as people of faith stand by one another in times of conflict and upheaval, here and abroad? How do we move conversations to a place of authentic empathy amid truth telling and yet keep from vilifying the other side? How do we serve as agents of peace instead of polarity? Speak to what is right without becoming righteous? Respond to a history of violence with the compassion that is committed to work  on behalf of justice without exacting the vengeance and retribution that is due?

These are the big topics. Important explorations. The more we have them, the stronger we get – the more we find our way together as people of faith to uphold the holy in the other in these most painful and poignant places of our humanity. Here is where the real dialogue work begins. It is beginning.

The legacy of the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, who brought us all together, is alive.

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