Archive for the ‘Previous Parliaments’ Category
Welcoming All To 20th Anniversary Interfaith Kickoff | Chicago May 11 | Looking Back to Move Forward
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is pleased to welcome all to a kickoff Interfaith celebration of our 20th anniversary! Partake in spiritual music, prayer, and conversation to look back on the 1993 Parliament of World Religions and move forward to a harmonious interfaith future! Attendees are welcomed to share in Langar (a meal) directly following the celebration.
When: Saturday, May 11 | 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Meal to follow)
Where: Sikh Religious Society | Palatine Gurdwara Sahib | 1280 Winnetka Street | Palatine, IL 60067
Hosted by: CPWR & The Sikh Religious Society
By Marcus Braybrooke for The Interfaith Observer
The Early Years of the Interfaith Movement
The legacy of the 1893 World Parliament of Religions did not live up to the high hopes of its organizers. The dream of a new era of universal peace too soon became the bloody nightmare of twentieth century battlefields and genocide.
Pope Leo XIII officially censured the Roman Catholic speakers at the Parliament and forbade participation in “future promiscuous conventions.” The openness to other faiths shown by many Christians at the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh was soon obscured by Karl Barth and Hendrik Kraemer, who stressed the distinctiveness of the Gospel over against religions, which, they proposed, were a futile human effort to reach God.
Yet there was a legacy. The Parliament created awareness among some that there are “wells of truth outside Christianity.” Historian Sidney Ahlstrom said it began the slow change by which Protestant America was to become a multi-racial society. Swami Vivekananda and Dharmapala established continuing Vedanta and Buddhist groups in the United States.
The Parliament also stimulated the academic study of religions. The Haskell lectureship endowment at the University of Chicago brought distinguished scholars of “comparative religion” to the school and enabled Henry Barrows, secretary of the Parliament, to lecture in Asia.
In 1901 the first meeting of the International Congress for the History of Religions (IAHR) was held as part of the Paris Universal Exposition, though this was for the scientific study of religions and not for interfaith dialogue. The distinguished scholar Joseph Kitagawa wrote, “it becomes clear that what the Parliament contributed to Eastern religions was not comparative religion as such. Rather Barrows and his colleagues should receive credit for initiating what we call today the ‘dialogue among various religions,’ in which each religious claim for ultimacy is acknowledged.”
Initial Institutional Developments
IARF activities continue today around the world. This recent gathering was in Andhra Pradesh in India. Photo: iarf.netPlans for another Parliament in 1901, possibly in India, came to nothing – although small scale parliaments were held in Japan and elsewhere. The obvious ‘child’ of the Parliament was the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), as it is now known, which held its first meeting in 1900. The prime mover was Charles William Wendte, born in Boston in 1844, had helped plan the 1893 Parliament. His parents had come to the United States on their honeymoon and stayed on. Wendte’s father became a Unitarian after being astonished to hear “something sensible from a preacher!” To his delight, his son became a Unitarian minister.
Besides his congregational responsibilities, Charles Wendte built up close relations with the German Free Protestant Union. With the American Unitarians, they were the main supporters of IARF, though among the 2,000 participants at the 1907 Boston Congress were some members of the Brahmo Samaj and a handful of liberal Jews, Muslims, and Catholics. (A longer profile of the IARF will be published here later this year.)
The World Congress of Faith can claim a more distant relationship. Its links with the 1893 Parliament came through the “Second Parliament of Religions,” held in Chicago in 1933, in conscious imitation of the earlier event. The 1933 Parliament, a largely forgotten event, was initiated by Charles Weller and Mr. Das Gupta. Weller, a social worker, started the League of Neighbours in 1918 to help integrate African Americans and foreign-born citizens into American life.
Das Gupta had come in 1908 from India to England. To help remedy British ignorance of India, he organized the Union of East and West. Then in 1920 he accompanied Rabindranath Tagore to the United States. Das Gupta stayed on and restarted his Union of East and West in America. Early in the 1920s he met Weller. Together they merged the League of Neighbours and the Union of East and West to create the Fellowship of Faiths. The Fellowship arranged in several cities meetings at which a member of one faith paid tribute to another faith. It also published a journal called Appreciation.
In May 1929, the World Fellowship of Faiths met in Chicago. This revived memories of the city’s 1893 Parliament and led to a similar event being held to coincide with the Second World Fair in 1933. Twenty-seven gatherings were held in Chicago, with a total attendance of 44,000 people. Preliminary meetings were also held in New York. Bishop McConnell claimed, perhaps unfairly, that the 1933 gathering was an advance on the 1893 event. “The first difference,” he said, “is that instead of a comparative parade of rival religions, all faiths were challenged to apply their religion to help solve the urgent problems which impede man’s progress. The second difference is that the word ‘faiths’ is understood to include, not only all religions, but all types of spiritual consciousness.”
One of those who attended the 1933 Parliament was Sir Francis Younghusband, who three years later arranged the first World Congress of Faiths in London. The minutes of the first planning meeting make clear the link with the World Fellowship of Faiths, which had arranged the Second World Parliament of Religions in 1933. Younghusband soon made clear to Das Gupta that, although grateful to him and the World Fellowship of Faiths, that he – Younghusband – was in charge of the Congress.
The World Fellowship of Faiths described itself as “a movement not a machine; a sense of expanding activities, rather than an established institution, an inspiration more than an achievement. It has never sought to develop a new religion or unite divergent faiths on the basis of a least common denominator of their convictions. Instead, it held that the desired and necessary human realization of the all-embracing spiritual Oneness of the Good Life Universal must be accompanied by the appreciation (brotherly love) for all the individualities, all the differentiations of function, by which true unity is enriched.” This is still a fair description of the interfaith movement.
The 2003 Iranian Nobel Laureate said that the main obstacle for post-revolutionary Arab women is a “patriarchal culture” that imposes a false interpretation on Islam.
NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)– On the sideline of an April 2 conference hosted by Columbia University Law School, Shirin Ebadi, who in 2003 became the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, briefly discussed the consequences of the Arab uprisings on women with Women’s eNews. The Iranian lawyer‘s answers were translated from Persian by her translator Shirin Ershadi.
Q: The Arab uprisings brought hope when they started in Tunisia. We now see that women’s rights are endangered. Have these uprisings been a good thing for Arab/Muslim women?
A: It has been good, but not enough. The voice of Arab women has been heard and that’s why I am saying it has been good; but unfortunately some countries want to retract the rights that women gained in the past. I am very glad that women are resisting. Women will only attain their rights when they learn how to resist dictators and oppressors.
Q: What is the main obstacle for women’s rights in these societies?
A: I think it’s the patriarchal culture. The patriarchal culture uses everything to legitimize itself. In Islamic countries, they interpret Islam in such a way that it is against women, whereas Islam has a different interpretation. With a correct interpretation of Islam, we can respect women’s rights.
Q: The Arab uprisings seem to have energized women to fight for their rights. Can we say that we are witnessing a rebirth of the Islamic feminism?
A: I have issues with “Islamic feminism. ” Feminism means equality of rights between men and women. Then, it is not Islamic. However, a Muslim woman can be a feminist.
Q: Speaking of feminism, we have lately witnessed extreme manifestations of feminism in Muslim-dominated countries, such as the ones inspired by the Ukrainian group Femen. Last month, a young Tunisian woman posted topless pictures of herself online with the words “my body is mine, nobody’s honor” written across her breasts and stomach. What is your take on this type of expression?
A: Here, the issue is the issue of freedom. People have to be free to do what they want to do. Of course, freedom is not unlimited and the limit of everyone’s freedom is the freedom of others. Therefore, if one’s freedom doesn’t hurt the other person we cannot limit it.
Q: In 2009, after the contested reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranians took to the street but their attempt to defy the regime resulted in a huge crackdown. Can the Arab uprisings be an inspiration for the Iranians who want change?
A: What I can tell you is every day the number of those who oppose the government increases. Iran is like a volcano, any minute the lava may come out. So wait and see what happens.
Opposition to Sanctions
During the Columbia University law conference, Ebadi reiterated her opposition to economic sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
The lawyer, who in 1970 became Iran’s first female judge, lives in exile in London and fiercely opposes the current Iranian regime. But she said economic sanctions “affect Iranian people and increase the corruption within the government.” Instead she recommended “political sanctions” that would “specifically target” members of the regime and “third countries where Iranian officials enter and have assets.”
She suggested, for example, to “target international satellites that broadcast Iranian propaganda in non-Persian languages. ” She said that today in Iran “16 TV stations hold propaganda of Iran in non-Persian. ” She also recommended sanctioning companies that provide the Iranian government with technology used for repression.
Shirin Ebadi is well-known for her defense of human rights, particularly those of women and children. At an April 2 awards dinner, she received the Wolfgang Friedmann Memorial Award from the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Since 1975, the prize has honored outstanding contributions to the field of international law. Ebadi was also honored as a Women’s eNews 21 leaders for the 21st Century in 2004.
Hajer Naili is a New York-based reporter for Women’s eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa. Follow her on Twitter @H_NAILI
The modern Parliament of the World’s Religions began twenty years ago in Chicago. A 100-year celebration of the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 became a revival for global interfaith. There and then, we declared the mission we continue today; convening global citizens of spirit and faith, connecting a network of worldwide communities, and enabling the dialogue among us to transform into action. The collective goal over these years?
A just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Looking back to move forward this year makes now the time to revisit our roots, learn from our history, and step into our future wired for progress.
Sri Chinmoy was officially invited to hold the opening meditation at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago on August 28, 1993.
The Council that convenes the Parliament of the World’s Religions is faced with an enormous one-time financial challenge we must immediately overcome to continue to exist. By April 13, 2013, we can raise the $150,000 needed to go on.
In just two days, generous gifts granted through our fundraising site on CauseVox and direct commitments have totaled more than $35,000.
CPWR Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson says each Board Trustee is meeting equal fundraising goals through personal outreach. By helping us meet this challenge, the Board of Trustees can free the Parliament to carry on the mission of creating peace in the world through interfaith harmony by:
- Convening the next Parliament event
- Widening our connections and keep encouraging local interfaith event
- Celebrating our deep 120 year history
- Honoring our leaders and MOVE FORWARD TO A FUTURE WITH HOPE
“Our problem started when a bomber attacked Madrid just weeks before the 2004 Barcelona Parliament,” says Mary Nelson. To explain further why the Parliament is acting fast, Nelson continues,
A last-minute loan became necessary to carry out the event. But a life changing Barcelona Parliament was held, bringing people together to overcome fear through interfaith action.
Why now? A Spanish court judgment of $276,600 against the Parliament slowly came to the U.S. Courts. On March 21, 2013, the U.S. court upheld the debt against the Parliament. We were advised we had at least three months, but court papers served last week gave us until April 17,2013.
The CPWR Board met and said we dare to do the impossible; the work of the Parliament must go on. To protect the celebration of our 120th Anniversary this year, we had raised $126,600 in our earlier efforts. The need now is $150,000 more.
In a few short days, by internet, direct solicitation, Board efforts, we have an additional $35,000 in hand. And we’ve just started. You can help make the difference.
Reasons to donate are many and personal, but the hundreds stepping in already have shared that the Parliament:
- “…teaches tolerance”
- “…is a vehicle for peace in the world,”
- “…was the highlight of my life.”
PLEASE. BE A HOPE BUILDER TODAY.
Tony Blair Foundation
Melbourne Parliament, 2009
In 1993, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions staged the first and biggest inter-religious gathering in 100 years. Commemorating this landmark anniversary year of 2013 we are:
120 Years Ago - The World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair, hailing representatives of faith groups never previous known to the western world and giving world-wide recognition to the peace and harmony cultivated by inter-religious fellowship and cooperation. It is the site where Swami Vivekananda changed the world of religious thought with his now famous speech.
25 Years Ago - The planning for 1993 began in the basement of a Hyde Park Chicago church where religious leaders recognized the opportunity to again invest the world in interfaith dialogue.
20 Years Ago - The Parliament of World Religions in the Palmer House Hotel of Chicago convened more than 8000 people joining together for the first and largest global interfaith gathering in a century. There a breakthrough document, Towards A Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration drafted by Hans Kuns was signed by numerous faith leaders, officially establishing the ongoing work of the CPWR.
…TO MOVE FORWARD
…by canvassing scrapbooks, white papers, phone lists, and the Parliament’s internet community comprising the last two and a half decades.
We invite the attendees, organizers, and friends of the 1993 Chicago, 1999 Capetown, 2004 Barcelona, and 2009 Melbourne Parliaments of the World’s Religions to reunite with us through our “Looking Back to Move Forward” series of 2013 programs.
Here’s what we’ll be doing:
Highlighting the stories of the Council’s friends, many who planned 1993 and continued to serve the organization by joining the board, volunteering, and attending subsequent Parliaments.
Featuring you! Did you attend 1993 in Chicago? What about 1999 in Capetown, or Barcelona in 2004? Did you feel connected to a movement because of those experiences? Please share these memories with us. Maybe you’ve been to all of the Parliaments, and your time in one of them inspired the life you’ve been living differently the past few years. How were you changed?
Exploring how “interfaith” has evolved over the last twenty years through Parliament events. It is time to mark 20 years of the Parliament movement by documenting surprise lessons, unexpected answers, and new questions to pursue.
Updating our community on the changing face of this movement and staying current. Momentum in interfaith today has sprouted major growth in youth inter-religious organizing, initiated history-making interfaith discussions, connected groups across polar spiritual, geographic, and digital lines, and defined new relationships between the religious and secular communities. Guiding institutions and and faith-based organizations are constantly discovering new pathways to becoming cooperative entities. The study of religions now considers the cooperative nature of diverse faith groups, going beyond the traditional comparative religions study. We will be present in these conversations as we plan our next steps, and share our findings through our Global Listening Campaign, Faiths Against Hate Campaign, and Parliament newsletters.
Celebrating our successes. Chicago is still the Council’s base, and as we look back on all the connections we’ve made all across the globe from our offices here, we want to reconnect. Later this year we will be announcing exciting plans to invite our Parliaments friends to a can’t-miss anniversary event here in Chicago.
Please connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your best memories, experiences, and lessons learned from the relationship you’ve built with the Parliament. Kindly include your name, location, Parliament(s) attended and years, as well as any contact information you are comfortable sharing. If you have recommendations or wishes for future Parliaments, we would be delighted to read about this, too.
by Philip Goldberg
Visitors exiting the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue are often perplexed by the street sign that reads Swami Vivekananda Way. What is it doing there? Who is this swami, and why does he deserve an honorary street name like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Hefner and other Chicago legends? Most Americans would not have a clue, but interfaith activists do, and Hindus do, and a great many yoga practitioners and students of Eastern philosophy do, and everyone in India certainly does. And this year, millions more will learn why Vivekananda remains a revered figure more than a century after his passing. January 12th was the 150th anniversary of his birth, and celebrations and tributes will be held all year throughout India and much of the West.
The leading disciple of the legendary 19th century saint, Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda came to the U.S. in 1893 for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a 17-day festival in the midst of a huge world’s fair called the Columbian Exposition. He was an exotic sight in his orange robes and turban; very few Americans had even met a Jew or a Muslim at the time, much less a Hindu monk. Against all odds, the swami became an instant sensation, not as some carnival attraction but as a fresh, erudite voice that spoke with authority, in impeccable English, about his own tradition, religious harmony and the universal truths at the unseen depths of all religions.
He quickly encountered two types of Americans that are familiar to us all today: Christian supremacists who denounced him as a dangerous heathen preaching false religion; and open-minded, rational, spiritual seekers, who found his message and his demeanor irresistible. He was, in a sense, the Jackie Robinson of spirituality, a bold and talented figure shattering widespread misconceptions and biases. Through word of mouth and adulatory press coverage, he became such a superstar that extra talks had to be scheduled for him to accommodate the crowds that flooded the amphitheater in the building that would later become the Art Institute. Hence, the location of Swami Vivekananda Way.
Because he was in demand on the lecture circuit, he remained in America longer than anticipated: more than three years in two separate trips. He passed away in India in 1902, and, like Mozart, Gershwin, and other rare shooting stars who never reached the age of 40, he produced a remarkable legacy in his few productive years.
In voluminous writings, some of which were converted from his numerous lectures, he articulated for the modern age the essential teachings of Vedanta, the philosophical system that stems primarily from the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. His four slim books on the principal pathways of Yoga – karma (selfless action), bhakti (devotion), jnana (intellectual discernment), and raja (meditation and spiritual practice) — became the authoritative descriptions of those categories, and to a large extent they remain so in today’s yoga-saturated world because they set the tone for much of the subsequent commentary on the subject.
In America, Vivekananda’s most enduring impact may be the organization he created to perpetuate his work. The Vedanta Society, which eventually established centers in most major U.S. cities, was the place for seekers interested in Hinduism, Indian philosophy, and yogic meditation in the early part of the 20th century. Through its publications and the swamis who came from India to run the centers, it was the leading voice for what the title of one of its widely read anthologies called “Vedanta for the Western World.” A large percentage of the students drawn to later gurus, such as Paramahansa Yogananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who was also born on Jan. 12), were primed by the Vivekananda lineage. In mid-century Vedanta Society swamis mentored some of the most prominent thinkers and writers in American history. If you’ve had transformative moments reading Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley or Huston Smith, or if you identified with the eccentric spirituality of J.D. Salinger’s Glass family, you were touched by Vivekananda whether you realized it or not.
That 1893 gathering of religious leaders would probably not even be remembered if the token Hindu hadn’t ignited such a fervent response. Instead, it launched the modern interfaith movement and catalyzed an East-to-West transmission that has reshaped America’s spiritual landscape. For those reasons and more, you will be hearing about Swami Vivekananda a great deal in the coming year, and so will people 150 years from now.
Philip Goldberg is an Interfaith Minister, Spiritual Coach, Public Speaker, and author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’
Observing the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda this January 12 called for both merriment and reflection in Hindu centers across the globe. For champions of Interfaith living now, it is a day – and this time, a year – of honoring the man who made passage from India to Chicago in 1893 to attend an unconventional convention. A group of religious leaders gathered in a parliamentary fashion, where east and west no longer saluted from a distance but stood near enough to hear one another.
To hear harmony.
11 September, 1893. World’s First Parliament of Religions.
Sisters and Brothers of America:
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.
I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:
As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee.
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:
Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
As part of 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India and Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi has recently released a new 3D Movie “9/11 – The Awakening” . This short 3D Movie is about Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech “Sisters and Brothers of America” delivered at Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 11th, 1893. The movie portrays Swami Vivekananda’s trip to the west, his visit to 1893 World’s Columbian Expo and his Chicago address at Parliament of Religions (Art Institute) in 1893.
9/11: The Awakening – a Trailer from the Vivekananda House:
The entire Chicago Expo has been re-created based on 1893 Chicago Archive Maps and a virtual setup of the Parliament of Religions stage with an audience of 7000 members has been built. The Empress of India ship that Vivekananda undertook during his journey to the West has also been re-created.
A realistic 3D Model of Swami Vivekananda with real skin shaders has been created and improvised based only on his photographs in the absence of any video reference of Vivekananda. Only a few Hollywood-animated movies like Polar Express (2004), Beowoulf (2007) have attempted realistic models for living personalities, but for Vivekananda it makes it all the more challenging since a 3-D body scan cannot be performed (as he is not alive). To create smoother animation for the 3-D movie, Motion capture has been performed with an actor playing Vivekananda’s role.
Monastic members of Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi and Ramakrishna Math, Chennai worked with GISR (Global Institute for Stereo Vision and Research) team to make the movie.
The movie is currently screened at the 3D Theatre in Vivekananda House, Chennai and Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi.
For more info on the 3D Movie, please visit www.vivekananda3d.org (Please use Google Chrome/Safari/Firefox to access the site
by Rev. Susan Baller-Shepard
from Huffington Post
Twenty-five years ago, I worked in Walsall, England, in the West Midlands, near Birmingham. Birmingham is a city known for many things, including having the largest Sikh gudwara outside of India.
In Walsall, in Caldmore (called “Karma”), I worked with countless Sikh families and experienced incredible hospitality from all of them. I was moved by the family cohesiveness and equality expressed within the Sikh families with whom I worked. I had never known any Sikh families before I met those in Walsall.
In 2004, while attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, the Sikh community at the Parliament hosted langar for thousands of us daily. We would enter a tent at lunch time, remove our shoes, put a covering on our heads and sit down with thousands of others to have a vegetarian meal. As a Presbyterian minister, I was struck by this hospitality to strangers. The Christian tradition speaks a great deal about hospitality, because Jesus was all about it: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”