Creation stories highlight Interfaith meeting
"If you have a story, care for it, and learn to give it away when needed. Because many times, a person needs a story more than food to stay alive."
--- MONA MAGEE, Doorstep directorBy PHIL ANDERSON
Creation stories from various faith perspectives were featured at the Interfaith of Topeka annual meeting Tuesday night at the Islamic Center of Topeka, 1115 S.E. 27th.
An estimated 50 people attended the program, which was preceded by a potluck dinner. The event celebrated the 22nd anniversary of Interfaith of Topeka.
Representatives from six faith groups shared creation stories from their traditions.
Rebecca Otte began the program, providing a creation story from the Buddhist perspective.
Otte said she was having difficulty finding any creation stories from the Buddhist religion for the program, so she called her Zen Master, who agreed there wasn't much information in this area.
Said Otte: "The Buddha kept a very noble silence about the creation of the universe and the creation of who we are."
She provided a story of a monk who followed the Buddha around, asking incessantly about the origin of the universe. The Buddha's response was that the question was better left unspoken.
"We create our universe, we create our world, we create all the things around us," Otte said. "That's the Buddha's basic teaching."
Christian Kramer, representing the Yuchi Tribe and Native American religion, provided a story in which water covered everything in the beginning.
The world took form based upon a series of questions asked by the wind, with various animals assisting in forming land masses and the sun and stars providing light and life.
"Man named all the animals on Earth," Kramer concluded. "All men and all animals are free."
Dr. Ashraf Sufi of the Islamic Center of Topeka provided insights of creation from both modern science and the Koran.
Said Sufi: "What science says about creation and the heavens and Earth and human beings corresponds to the Koran, which was written 1,400 years ago."
Duane Herrmann, representing the Baha'i communities of Topeka and Shawnee County, said his religion doesn't have a creation story as such. However, the matter was addressed by Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith.
Herrmann quoted Baha'u'llah, who said: "Every event must needs have an origin and every building a builder. Verily, the Word of God is the cause which hath preceded the contingent world --- a world which is adorned with the splendors of the Ancient of Days, yet is being renewed and regenerated at all times."
Dr. Murti Satya, from the Hindu faith, said there are several creation stories from his religion.
In one story, Lord Vishnu, who had been asleep, was awakened by a humming sound that grew and spread. As the dawn began to break, a magnificent lotus flower grew from Vishnu's navel. In the middle of the blossom was Vishnu's servant, Brahma. Vishnu spoke to Brahma: "It is time to begin. Create the world."
Also speaking was Dr. Dissi Otudeko, a Washburn University anthropologist, who spoke on African religions.
He said that while African religions vary throughout the continent, there are several constants, including believing in a supreme being called God.
"He is the creator of the universe and sustainer of the universe," Otudeko said. "His existence is taken for granted. There's no question about it, that he exists."
Characteristics attributed to God include the qualities of being: almighty; the most powerful; real; "the beginning and the end"; eternal; loving; and just.
Mona Magee, Doorstep director, concluded the program with an account of a researcher who visited primitive tribes to obtain their creation stories.
"If you have a story," Magee said, "care for it, and learn to give it away when needed. Because many times, a person needs a story more than food to stay alive."
In the business portion of the meeting, new officers for the 2001 Interfaith of Topeka Board of Directors were announced.
They include: Herrmann as president; the Rev. Don Anderson of East Topeka United Methodist Church as vice president; Gene Langdon of the Unity Church of Christianity as treasurer; and Linda Houseman of the Topeka Congregation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as treasurer.
Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyright 2001, The Topeka Capital-Journal