Los Angeles’ religious diversity often obliges its inhabitants to learn to live among people who have different faiths and values. In that spirit, a reading of the play “Bounty of Lace,” by Susan Merson, and a panel discussion about interfaith relations was held Oct. 30 in the Murphy Recital Hall. The event was held as part of Loyola Marymount University’s annual Bellarmine Forum.
“The theme of the conference is Convivencia, literally, ‘living with.’ Sometimes, we do that; other times, we don’t, especially when it comes to matters of religion,” said Amir Hussain, co-director of this year’s Bellarmine Forum and associate professor of theological studies. “I hope people walk away with the understanding that LMU is a space to talk about religion, including the difficult conversations.”
“Bounty of Lace” is the story of a young Israeli Jewish girl, pregnant by a Muslim boy, as she prepares to marry a Rabbi’s son before her secret is discovered. The play explores the experience of women in a war-torn region dominated by male agendas.
“The play takes place in Israel as that landscape has been so scraped by violence that I feel everyone there has been affected and changed by the dull horror of living moment to moment, with love always at risk,” Merson said. “I hope folks are moved by the cost of living in a world with ever shrinking choices -- physically, spiritually, emotionally and politically.”
Following the reading, a panel discussion featured the playwright and women from three faith communities, including Debra Linesch, director of the Department of Marital and Family Therapy, Dr. Laila al-Marayati, a Palestinian American gynecologist, and Judith Royer, C.S.J., professor of theatre arts.
“The heart of interfaith dialogue is not that we seek to convert each other, but that we help each other to find what is meaningful in our own traditions,” Hussain said. “We need to understand each other, in dialogue with each other, because we are in each others’ lives.”
From Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, LMU’s Bellarmine Forum 2008 explored the theme “religion.identity.life. CONVIVENCIA” -- a look at Los Angeles’ religious diversity and religious communities. Convivencia, which means “living together” in Spanish, was a religious golden age in medieval Spain when Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in peace and with respect.