mari4212: calla lily against a black background (flower)
[personal profile] mari4212
Context is this post: http://community.livejournal.com/racism_101/15609.html

Okay, so this is a religious question aimed more at the non-Christian religious members of my flist, which is actually a fair chunk of you.

A recent post in [livejournal.com profile] racism_101 is talking about symbols of other cultures and other religions, and where the line is between appreciation and appropriation. One of the other commentors mentioned to me how she minds non-Jews wearing certain Jewish religious symbols, because it strikes her as appropriating the religion.

And the discussion reminded me of something in my church that I've always loved the symbology of, but am now questioning a bit. My church has what we call the Great Window in our sanctuary, it was put in when we remodeled in the 60s. The window is primarily divided into two thematic sections: the city of man below and the city of God set in a circle above.

The city of man section has symbols throughout of various aspects of the city of Dayton and various members of the church at the time. That's something I've always enjoyed, but it's not what's concerning me now.

The city of God section is, however. When the window was made, a conscious choice was made to include symbols of many world religions, not just Christianity. So, for example, we have the Magen David, we have a lotus flower for Buddhism, there's a Yin Yang symbol, the window has the word Islam written out, rather than use an image which might be problematic for Muslims. There might be a few other symbols that I'm not recalling right now/don't have the knowledge to know to which religion they would apply. I've always loved the implicit theology behind the Great Window, the idea that Christians do not own God, and neither do we have the only valid approach to the Divine.

Now, I'm just wondering whether we tripped up in assuming that had the right to use symbols from other religions, even while we were trying to voice our understanding of them as being valid and living religious traditions.

I'm not looking for assurances here, but I would appreciate other perspectives on the matter. I didn't want to hijack the other thread where this came up, and I know I've got a lot of very thoughtful flist members who could perhaps give insight.
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