A man on a mission, Terry Taylor heads up the Louisville-based inter-religious non-profit organization, Interfaith Paths to Peace. When he’s not traveling to countries as diverse as Morocco, Qatar, Turkey and Japan to support positive interfaith interaction, the author of “A Spirituality for Brokenness” can be found right here in the River City, organizing events for people of every faith and encouraging conversation and progress at home. He and IPP will host the National Peacemakers Day Celebration, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Highland Baptist Church, an event that is free with reservations and open to the public. The evening will feature a vegetarian dinner and interactive presentation on non-violent communication. “We realized at some point that there is no day on the calendar that really honors those who have devoted their lives, and in some cases given their lives, in the pursuit of peacemaking. So we do this event every Fall, on or around Gandhi’s birthday,” Taylor explained. “Finding ways to solve our problems verbally with nonviolence is just as important as finding a way to put down the guns and knives. So that’s what this particular dinner and program is going to be about.” The following Sunday, Sept. 30, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Plymouth Community Renewal Center, 1626 W. Chestnut St., there will be an intensive workshop on nonviolent communication, with a workshop fee of $30 (scholarships are available).
You can make reservations for these and other upcoming events, and find out more about Terry’s work at Interfaith Paths to Peace, by visiting www.paths2peace.org.
What is Interfaith Paths to Peace about?
Increasing interreligious understanding. And we do that by doing a full rainbow of different kinds of events and activities, designed to bring people of different religions together to interact. Over the last few years we’ve evolved into a way of doing things that’s almost always positive. And we’ve discovered that when you’re for things, rather than against things, it makes it very easy for people to be part of what you’re doing.
What religions are typically represented at your events?
Well, just about any you can think of! Certainly Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Bahá’í religion (and) the Asian religions.
Why do you think it is so important for people of different faiths to interact?
We believe that when people of different religions get to know and understand each other, our community, the nation and the world become more peaceful.
Whenever someone expresses prejudice or anger toward a particular religion, I always ask, “Do you know someone who practices that religion?” The answer is invariably, “No.” When such misguided people have a direct, personal encounter with someone from a different religion, the prejudice and anger often disappear because they usually discover someone very much like themselves!
Do you work with any other organizations?
I actually work very closely with the Center for Women and Families, they gave me an award a year or so ago (the Center’s “2011 Man of Distinction”), and they have an initiative that I’m part of at the moment that is tentatively being called “Male Voices.” It’s an initiative to help men speak out about the problems of what’s now called intimate partner violence, and also rape and sexual assault, because men not only have been perpetrators but sometimes are victims in this, but we don’t tend to talk about it. …Community leaders (are) taking a stand to say we need to be aware of this and we need to speak out to our fellow men about being advocates for peaceful solutions to conflicts between couples.
I (also) work with suicide prevention. I had a brother, an older brother who committed suicide when I was 12 years old. We are in the 50th year since that event occurred, and so it prompted me to see if I could be supportive of efforts to prevent suicide.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a writer and an artist, a photographer. I actually have a degree in something called the Book Arts, which I learned to handcraft fine quality, limited-edition books; I sometimes make books that are like paintings or sculpture. But most of my efforts these days are in photography. So I’m a fairly serious photographer and have exhibited here and there and have an installation up as part of the permanent collection at the Center for Women and Families.
Are you writing anything right now?
I’m starting to work on another book. I had a very difficult childhood, but somebody pointed out to me that something got me through that time – what was it? I was thinking about it and so I did this little project for myself where I created a little sort of altar, and each day for 30 days, I tried to find some kind of object that represented something that got me through that difficult time in my life. And it was really a profound experience. So the book is going to tell the stories of those objects and what they represent in my life, and I hope create a model for people who have been through difficult times. This is kind of some more tools for doing what I call mending. Healing, to me, implies that you’re returning to the way you were before whatever happened, and for most of us that doesn’t ever happen. But the idea of mending just means that what you’ve been through has left a mark on you… You can sometimes actually get to a better place.