RELIGION VS TRADITION

An exciting and important new dialogue about bridging the divide between religion and tradition is starting in New York. Find out how you can be a part of it. For more information, click here. 

Aired on November 28, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THE UNITED PALACE OF SPIRITUAL ARTS RECENTLY CREATED A MONTHLY FORUM CALLED OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS, WHOSE MISSION IS TO HELP NEW YORKERS COME TOGETHER AND FOSTER RESPECT, TOLERANCE, AND HUMAN CONNECTION.

A TALL ORDER AT A TIME WHEN DIVISIONS ARE RAM PANT THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND WHERE OPPONENTS ARE INCREASINGLY SEEN AS ENEMIES.

THE CONCRETE GOAL IS FOR PARTICIPANTS TO LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT FAITH AND WISDOM TRADITIONS FOUND RIGHT HERE, TRADITIONS SUCH AS JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AMONG MANY OTHERS.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS IS THE SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED PALACE, HEATHER SHEA.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

I APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY.

BEFORE WE GET INTO THE OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS, I WONDER IF YOU CAN TALK ABOUT THE UNITED PALACE.

WHAT IS IT, WHERE IS IT, AND HOW DID IT BEGIN?

IT'S ONE OF THE WONDER THEATERS.

THOSE GREAT MOVIE THEATERS DEVELOPED IN 1929, AND THEN IN THE LATE '60s, BECAUSE PEOPLE STARTED WATCHING TELEVISION, PEOPLE WEREN'T GOING TO THE MOVIES QUITE AS MUCH.

SO AT THAT POINT, REVEREND IKE BOUGHT IT AND TURNED IT INTO A SPIRITUAL CENTER.

SO WE HAVE MOVIES, ARTS AND EDUCATION, AS WELL AS CHURCH ON SUNDAY AND THE OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS.

AND YOU MENTIONED ALSO THE UNITED HEALTH IS ON 176th AND BROADWAY.

SO IT'S IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

MANY NEW YORKERS HAVEN'T SPENT TIME IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, BUT GET ON THE A-TRAIN AND COME ON UP.

I SAW THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF IT ON YOUR WEBSITE.

IT'S BEAUTIFUL.

IT'S THE FOURTH LARGEST THEATER IN MANHATTAN?

YES.

WE HAVE 3400 SEATS.

LET'S TURN TO OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS.

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THE BRIEF DESCRIPTION THAT I GAVE?

SURE.

IT'S A MONTHLY FORUM WHERE WE GET TOGETHER TO DISCUSS AND EXPLORE THE GREAT RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD, AND ALSO WORLD TRADITION.

WE LIKE TO HAVE PEOPLE CELEBRATE, PARTICIPATE, GET A LITTLE UNDERSTANDING.

BECAUSE PEOPLE MAY NOT BE EXPOSED TO OTHER TRADITIONS.

FOR EXAMPLE, WE RECENTLY HAD SOMEONE COME TO TALK ABOUT HINDUISM.

AND THEN WE DID A MEDITATION AND PARTICIPATED IN MUSIC.

SO IT'S JUST AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE TO GET AN INSIGHT THEY MAY WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT A PARTICULAR RELIGION.

THE THING THAT GRABS ME, OR CAPTURES ME IS THE END GOAL OF WANTING TO HELP FOSTER AND DEVELOP COMPASSION, TOLERANCE, UNDERSTANDING AMONG THE PARTICIPANTS, RIGHT?

BUT IT JUST STRIKES ME.

IT MAKES ME SAD TO THINK ABOUT THAT GOAL AT A TIME WE'RE LIVING IN.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, WE KIND OF HATE EACH OTHER'S GUTS, AND WE WANT TO SHUT PEOPLE DOWN.

IS THIS A TIME FOR YOUR ENDEAVORS?

ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT OUR ENDEFERS IS PEOPLE COME IN OUR DOORS, AND ONE OF THE LAST PROGRAMS IS ABOUT JUDAISM.

WE HAD THE RABBI ROLL OUT THE TORAH, AND SO WE HAVE PEOPLE, ABOUT 100 OR MORE PEOPLE HOLDING ON TO THE TORAH OF DIFFERENT RACES, RELIGIONS, BACK GROUNDS, ALL SINGING AND CHANTING TOGETHER.

AFTERWARDS, SOMEBODY CAME AND SAID THIS IS ABOUT COMMUNITY, THIS IS ABOUT HUMANITY.

SO IT'S AN EXPLORATION.

AND WE BELIEVE THAT WE'RE ALL CONNECTED TO THE DIVINE SPIRIT IN SOME WAY, WHETHER YOU CALL IT GOD, THE SUPREME BEING, WHATEVER THAT IS, AND THERE'S DIFFERENT PATHWAYS.

AND PEOPLE SOMETIMES THINK MINE IS THE RIGHT WAY OR ONLY WAY.

WE'RE SAYING EXPLORE OTHERS.

YOU MIGHT LIKE A LITTLE BIT OF IT, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT, BUT YOU CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH.

WHAT IF WE DON'T HAVE ANY SPIRITUAL FAITH, IS THIS STILL FOR US?

ABSOLUTELY.

WE'RE ALL HUMAN, AND WE'RE ALL INTERESTED IN COMMUNITY.

ESPECIALLY THESE DAYS WHERE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR WHAT IS A COMMUNITY I CAN BE PART OF?

WE'RE A COMMUNITY, A CONGREGATION.

WE HAVE SERVICES, WE HAVE SHOWS, WE HAVE ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES.

TALK ABOUT THAT, TALK ABOUT THAT.

ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU HAVE, I DIDN'T KNOW UNTIL WE WERE TALKING ABOUT IT EARLIER.

WE'VE BEEN A THEATER SINCE 1929, AND IT WAS MAYBE FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AGO THAT ONE OF OUR NEIGHBORS WAS TALKING TO OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER SAYING, THIS IS A CHLASSIC THEATER, WHY NOT START IT AGAIN?

SO EVERY MONTH OR SO, WE HAVE A CLASSIC MOVIE.

AND WE HAVE THE LAST SINGLE SCREEN MAJOR MOVIE THEATER IN NEW YORK CITY.

SO COME SEE THINGS LIKE 'LAWRENCE OF ARABIA,' ON THE BIG SCREEN.

WE JUST DID 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT,' AND WE HAVE 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' COMING UP.

WHEN IS THE NEXT HEART CONVERSATION?

LISLAM ON THE 29th.

HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CONVERSATIONS GOING ON BEYOND THE PALACE?

PART OF OUR PHILOSOPHY, AND IT'S DESIGNED IN THIS BUILDING.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE BUILDING, YOU NOTICE SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT.

THAT'S THE WAY THOMAS LAND DESIGNED IT IN THE 1920s.

YOU WALK INTO THIS BUILDING AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU'RE IN A PALACE AND IT'S MAG N-- MAGNIFICENT, AND YOU EXPERIENCE THIS SHOW.

BY THE TIME YOU GO OUT ON THE STREETS, SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU.

AND IF YOU GET THAT AWARENESS THAT YOU'RE WONDERFUL, AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT YOU MAY NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ARE WONDERFUL, IT GIVES YOU A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW.

THEN WE INVITE YOU TO COME BACK.

SO IF YOU LOSE THAT FEELING, COME BACK IN AND GET THAT FEELING IN YOU AND GO BACK OUT AGAIN.

IT SOUNDS VERY GOOD, HEATHER.

I MAY DROP UP THERE SOMETIME.

PLEASE DO.

IT'S THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN NEW YORK BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IT'S ALWAYS THERE.

PRETTY MUCH WHAT I SAID.

IT'S EASY TO GET TO.

UBER ON UP AND COME VISIT US.

WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, HEATHER.

AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

A DELIGHT.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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