Article Published: Friday, May 16, 2003 - 9:04:22 PM PST
Religious leaders to discuss meeting challenges
ENCINO -- The death of a child, a permanent disability or losing a home to a fire can challenge or strengthen one's life.
"What My Faith Tradition Does to Help Deal with Tragedy," a panel discussion to be presented Sunday by the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council, will explore the faith options for life's challenges.
"The doctrine of our church says that the only tragedy is sin," said Bishop Matthew Ball of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, West Hills Ward.
"For example, our response to death is that it's a step of progression. You will hear us say, 'The birth we call death.' I've heard many times from those who are not members of the LDS church that our funeral service doesn't feel sad."
The death of his infant son, Taylor Vaughn, drew his family very close. When his surviving six children act up at home, Ball reminds them of the promise that they will see their brother again in eternal life, but only if they put their life in order.
"It's rotten of me to play that card, but I want to wake them up," Ball said. "We believe Taylor is alive with the Heavenly Father. Our motivation is that we want to be with him again."
Rabbi David Vorspan from Congregation Shir Ami in Woodland Hills will base his talk on the Book of Job, and will discuss God's role in tragedies.
"I don't believe God does play a role," said Vorspan. "I think tragedy is just what happens in life. I want to talk about how we can face tragedy by confronting it and not denying it."
Vorspan also will explore how the support of community can "multiply the joys and divide the sorrows."
As part of the crisis team working with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Rev. Eric Thomas from Christ Community Church in Canoga Park has responded to on-the-spot trauma during the past five years.
"The first thing I do is immediately form a support group around them," Thomas said. "Studies have shown that the degree of recovery from a trauma is measured by one's support group."
Talking about whatever trauma they've experienced is what helps people get through the grieving process, said Thomas.
"With every trauma there's a loss. The loss may be a person, sight, the ability to walk or a drastic lifestyle change," Thomas said. "I help them see the propriety of feeling bad. I try to help them realize there is a purpose in the event."
Sylvian Castel de Oro, a professor of Spanish and Arabic at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, will discuss the topic from a Baha'i point of view.
"There are the natural causes tragedies and then there are the tragedies in how we live our own life," said Castel de Oro. "Tragedy is also a spiritual opportunity for the spirit to grow. Tribulations can be disguised as blessing. The wisdom we gain from having gone through tribulations can help us in the future." "What My Faith Tradition Does to Help Deal with Tragedy" will be discussed at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5338 White Oak Ave., Encino. Joining Ball, Vorspan, Thomas and Castel de Oro on the panel will be David Miller representing the Roman Catholic point of view. Call (818) 718-6460.
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