An essential component of the Common Word model of dialogue is opportunities for everyone to reflect and share together. Several rounds of ‘table talk’ are typically built into the program, with a progressive focusing from the general to the more specific.
Table Talk Round 1
These questions are designed to be more general and open ended, to help people get used to talking with and listening to one another. Obviously, participants will likely only be able to address one or two of them in a given session, but a wide-ranging list is given for use over the course of several meetings:
- What does your name mean? How did you get your name?
- Where do you consider home, and what do you love most about it?
- What is the story of your journey that brought you here today?
- What expectations do you have for this dialogue? What concerns do you have?
- What is the most beautiful aspect of your religious heritage?
- What is the most challenging aspect of your religious heritage?
- What item represents your religion for you and how does this item capture the meaning of your religion to you?
- What religious values are most important to you?
- How, if at all, were you taught to understand religious differences?
- Why are you interested in Christian-Muslim dialogue specifically?
- What are your individual goals and motives for participating in this dialogue?
- What is your greatest hope and fear about interfaith relations?
- What is the cruelest thing someone from a different religion did to you? What is the most kind and generous thing?
- What do you hope the benefits to your community will be in participating in this dialogue?
- What is the story that most represents when you felt like the “other”? What impact did this have?
- What is the story that most represents when you felt that someone else was the “other”?
- What role does your faith play in your life?
- What rituals and practices are central to the way you live the teachings of your tradition?
- What do you do to ensure that you continue to be guided by your faith?
Table Talk Round 2
After having heard first presentations from the two primary dialogue leaders, those in attendance are invited to share their initial reactions with their fellow participants around smaller tables. These questions are focused specifically on the content of the talks and are designed to help people go a bit deeper:
- Was there one phrase or idea which you heard in the presentations that really stood out for you, and if so why?
- Based on what was shared by the leader from your own faith community, was there something you would have wanted to add or say differently?
- Based on what was shared by the leader from the faith community other than your own, was there anything that was new or surprising or difficult to understand?
Table Talk Round 3
A third round of table group discussions follows the second presentations from the dialogue leaders. Here the questions begin to move in the direction of potential conclusions, outcomes, and actions:
- Does the dialogue on this topic so far suggest any major points of commonality?
- Where do the most significant areas of difference remain?
- If the dialogue on this theme were to continue, what would be the central question to pursue?
- Is there anything that your respective Christian and Muslim communities could do together on the basis of the common ground identified?