Archive for the ‘1893 Parliament – Chicago’ Category
A follower of the Indian mystic Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk who introduced Hinduism to the United States in the late 19th century. Wide-ranging in his intellect, Vivekananda studied Western logic, philosophy, history, classical music and Indian Sanskrit scripture. His teachers considered him a prodigy.
At the age of 30, Vivekananda first visited the United States in 1893 as a delegate to the World’s Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair. In his opening remarks, he greeted the assembled gathering with the words “Sisters and Brothers of America.” The 7,000 people in attendance rose to their feet for an ovation lasting more than three minutes. Vivekananda proceeded to give a brief but eloquent speech that celebrated toleration and condemned fanaticism and its ills: “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.”
Continuing in this vein, Vivekananda went on to quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “As different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their waters in the sea, so, Oh Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
From The Hindu
Like the protagonist of his solo play on Swami Vivekananda, singer-actor Shekhar Sen won the hearts of one and all.
The life and vision of the man divine, Swami Vivekananda was presented by Impresario India in an incredible musical play written, composed and enacted by the renowned actor-singer Shekhar Sen from Mumbai at Kamani auditorium this past week. The outstanding performance of this gifted artiste encompassed the life of the patriot saint whose vision of shared spirituality and eloquent message at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago conquered the hearts of people from across the world. Disclosing the making of this dynamic saint, the two-hour long riveting play unfolds the stories of his childhood, the impact of the Brahmo-Samaj on him, his eagerness to find God and meeting his revered mentor Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, his unforgettable Chicago speech, and so on.
A talented singer, composer, lyricist and actor, Sen left the audience awestruck, debating whether he was a better singer or actor, after his spellbinding performance as Vivekananda. With a solid background provided by his initial training in classical music from an early age under his parents Anita and Arun Kumar Sen, both renowned vocalists of the Gwaliar gharana, Shekhar later established his distinct identity by singing poetry of the medieval poets. He has done more than 1500 shows across the world. With 190 cassettes and CDs to his credit, he has also sung for the record-breaking serial “Ramayana”. After the resounding success of his musical mono-acts on Goswami Tulsidas and Kabeer, “Vivekananda” represents yet another milestone for this gem of an artiste.
Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat’s site-specific installation on the Art Institute’s grand staircase considers the events of September 11, 2001 in light of September 11, 1893, when Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda’s landmark speech about global religious tolerance was delivered at the First World Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, just feet away inside the museum’s auditorium. The force of visual impact in the artist’s installation keeps its commentary on the regression of religious tolerance and the global rise of fanaticism from feeling secondhand or pious. Kallat converts the entirety of Vivekananda’s speech into a permanent LED display that takes up both rises of the grand staircase, a site previously mined by artist Daniel Buren. It’s surprising how strongly Kallat’s piece resonates with the permanent collection objects surrounding it; the text reflects off the windows of the Buddhist art gallery on the first floor and draws attention to the great divide between this tradition and the Impressionists on the other side of the stairs. Kallat’s choice to reference the events of 9/11 with the colors of the Department of Homeland Security’s alert system is an easy symbolic gesture of terror’s infection on speech that’s nonetheless usefully confrontational. (Monica Westin)
September 11, 2010-January 2, 2011
CHICAGO—The Art Institute of Chicago will present a site-specific installation on the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech of September 11, 1893 to the first World Parliament of Religions. In a new work entitled Public Notice 3, artist Jitish Kallat connects the date of Swami Vivekananda’s address to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in a meditation on religious tolerance.
The 1893 Parliament, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, marked the birth of interreligious dialogue and the first formal gathering of representatives of eastern and western spiritual traditions. Iconic Hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda urged an audience of 7,000 to practice tolerance and universal acceptance of all faith traditions.
Exactly 108 years prior to the 9/11 attacks, Vivekananda closed his address by saying, “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.” His words were met with a standing ovation.
Public Notice 3 will display the text of Swami Vivekananda’s address in LED colors corresponding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alert system on the risers of the Woman’s Board Grand Staircase in Fullerton Hall, the exact site of the address 117 years ago. The exhibit will be the first major presentation of Indian artist Jitish Kallat’s work in an American museum.
Augusta Jane Chapin, an organizer of the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, and the only woman to present a session at the Parliament, will be honored by the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame this year.
Born in New York, Chapin completed her education in Michigan and was the second woman to be ordained as a Universalist minister. She was also the first woman to serve on the Council of the Universalist General Convention, and the first woman ever to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, presented to her at the Chicago World’s Fair.
Chapin was a champion of women’s rights, forging the way for future generations of women in the United States to seek higher education and advanced degrees.
In addition to organizing the first Parliament in 1893, Chapin also served as Chairwoman of the Woman’s General Committee. She gave comments at the opening and closing presentations of the Parliament, and stated in her opening address, “My memory runs easily back to the time when, in all the modern world, there was not one well equipped college or university open to women students, and when, in all the modern world, no woman had been ordained, or even acknowledged, as a preacher outside the denomination of Friends.”
Chapin will be honored among two other Historical Honorees and 10 Contemporary Honorees on October 19 in East Lansing.
From Art & Artworks
This fall, acclaimed contemporary artist Jitish Kallat turns the landmark Art Institute Grand Staircase into a meditation on religious tolerance, drawing on the museum’s own history in concert with the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil. Public Notice 3 , a site-specific installation, brings together two key historical moments: the first Parliament of the World’s Religions, opening on September 11, 1893, in what is now the museum’s Fullerton Hall, and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 108 years later, on that very date. Public Notice 3–the first major presentation of Kallat’s work in an American museum–will be on view September 11, 2010 through January 2, 2011.
The Art Institute of Chicago has long held a unique historical connection with India. In 1893, during the World’s Columbian Exposition, the museum’s building served as the site of one of the most important gatherings in the history of modern religion, the first World’s Parliament of Religions. One of the opening speakers was a young Hindu monk from India, Swami Vivekananda, who stunned and enthralled the audience of 7,000 with an address that opened one of the first dialogues between Eastern and Western traditions and, importantly, argued passionately for universalism and religious tolerance. Exactly 108 years before the attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, Swami Vivekananda called for an end to all “bigotry and fanaticism” and pleaded for brotherhood across all faiths, a speech that was met with a standing ovation and was heralded by journalists as one of the pivotal moments of the Exposition. (Even today, the stretch of Michigan Avenue in front of the Art Institute is the honorary “Swami Vivekananda Way.”)
Kallat has chosen this historical event as the basis and site for his monumental installation. For Public Notice 3 , Kallat will convert the complete text of Vivekananda’s inspiring speech into LED displays on each of the 118 risers of the museum’s Woman’s Board Grand Staircase, which is itself adjacent to what is now Fullerton Hall, where Vivekananda made his original presentation. Drawing attention to the great chasm between this plea for tolerance of 1893 and the very different events of September 11, 2001, the text of the speech will be displayed in the five colors of the United States’ Department of Homeland Security alert system–red, orange, yellow, blue, and green.
This historical coincidence–and the fact that the speech was delivered at the earliest attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths–heightens the potency of Vivekananda’s persuasive words. The resulting work, Public Notice 3, creates a trenchant commentary on the evolution, or devolution, of religious tolerance across the 20th and 21st centuries. The installation will serve not as a passive commemorative act but rather as an actively contemplative space.
Public Notice 3 draws on Kallat’s earlier works, Public Notice and Public Notice 2, which also converted historic texts into large-scale installations.
From The Washington Post
Granted, the holiest shrine for many Chicagoans is Wrigley Field. But for those Cubs fans whose faith has wavered after more than a century without a World Series win – or who want a more traditional space in which to pray for the long-awaited baseball salvation – the Windy City hosts beautiful structures for adherents of many different religions.
Chicago’s religious diversity and the striking houses of worship it has given rise to go back, as so many things here do, to two seminal events of the late 19th century: the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The former created a tabula rasa for new architectural structures – and an urgent need for their construction – and the latter showcased Chicago’s openness and inclusiveness.
The Bahai faith was one of the religions that made the most of its welcome during the multi-faith dialogue held alongside the World’s Fair. It was the first time the religion – begun in 19th-century Iran – was mentioned on this continent, and from the interest it sparked grew America’s initial Bahai community. When ground was broken on North America’s Bahai temple in 1912, it was in an open field far from commercial activity. Now it’s nestled in the Chicago suburbs, the stunning setting – up against Lake Michigan, surrounded by manicured gardens of tulips and magnolias – perhaps all the more arresting for springing from such a mundane environment.
It is the alabaster-domed temple itself that is the main attraction, however. It beckons like a majestic, three-tiered wedding cake frosted with an intricately carved stone filigree. It’s literally a brilliant gem of a building, the architect having thrown quartz into the concrete to make it glisten in the sunshine. If you’re not blinded by the radiance, up close you can make out symbols from a half-dozen religions – all considered holy by Bahais – as well as the lacy Arabic calligraphy that spells out one of the titles for the faith’s founder.
While the interior is also breathtaking, what’s most lovely about it is how clearly you can hear your own breathing. In this space for private prayer and meditation, the only sound permitted is that of human voices reading scripture. Aside from the daily 30-minute prayer services at 12:30 – when participants read from Bahai, Christian, Muslim and other hallowed texts as the spirit moves them, and the choir sings sacred music ranging from Mozart to Negro spirituals once a week – the only distractions are hushed footsteps and the whir of the wind off the lake.
The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Unity Temple in Oak Park takes the opposite tack in its attempt to welcome all those who enter. Instead of a panoply of religious symbols, the Unitarian church lacks so much as a cross. In place of awe and splendor, it emphasizes modesty and hominess. But the result is still a compelling, harmonious refuge well worth the trip to the neighborhood the architect made famous.
From The Washington Post
By Suhag Shukla
Richard Gere is a Buddhist. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are initiated in Kabbalah. And Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are raising little Suri in the Church of Scientology. None were raised in the traditions which now inform their spirituality, along with the 44% of Americans who too have changed their religions. So why then should Julia Roberts’ revelation of her Hindu practice, that today inspires the spirituality of over two million Indian-origin Hindu Americans and an unaccounted number of non-Indian-origin Hindus — including those who may have converted or, for all intents and purposes, could be considered practicing Hindus — elicit the question of whether America is ready to embrace Hinduism?
Whether Americans know it or not, we’ve been embracing Hinduism for longer than most would guess. Remember that revolt against the “establishment” called the American transcendentalist movement? Yes, the one sparked by the American philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau? What inspired them? You guessed it: Hinduism. One of the earliest Hindu centers of worship in the U.S. — the Vedanta Society — was established in 1894 by Caucasian American disciples of Indian Hindu, Swami Vivekananda, after he took the first-ever World Parliament of Religions by storm. The Vedanta Society continues to have a strong “convert” and “born” Hindu following with centers across the 50 states. Let’s not forget Martin Luther King Junior and his non-violent civil disobedience movement, a movement which affords each and every one of us dignity and equal rights regardless of the color of our skin — a movement which I am also proud to know was strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, a practicing Hindu, and his interpretation of the Hindu concept of ahimsa or non-violence. And how about the example of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi? He may be better known as the Indian guru of the Beatles, but in the late 60s and early 70s, he boasted some one million meditation followers.
Fast forward to 2010. Is there a city left in the United States that does not have at least one yoga class or a spa that doesn’t have ayurvedic offerings? And one would be remiss to leave out Oprah — streaming into some 7.4 million households daily and using her monthly magazine as well social networks to promote the teachings of Eckhart Tolle — teachings he has said are influenced, in part, by Hindu saints Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurthy. From the practical — yoga, meditation, vegetarianism and ayurveda to the more esoteric — belief in karma and reincarnation as well as an adherence to the trademark Hindu world view that multiple paths to the Truth can exist, core concepts of Hinduism are not only being embraced by Americans but are slowly being assimilated into the American collective conscience just as Judeo-Christian values were generations before.
After the lifting of the Asian Exclusion Act in the early 1960s, waves of Indian and other Hindu immigrants brought more aspects of Hinduism to American shores and began practicing their faith with the same freedom that all other religions enjoy in America. Today there are over 700 Hindu temples throughout the U.S.. From Hawaii to Minnesota down to Florida, and essentially every state in between, Hindu temples are flourishing and catering to both born Hindu and convert populations. The American embrace of Hinduism is also the result of the maintenance of traditions by these immigrants and their transmission to second and third generation Hindu Americans.
As most Europeans would attest, we Americans are a religious lot. Add to this either the melting pot or salad bowl metaphor, and the influence of any of the religions practiced in the U.S. should come at no surprise. But the question posed by Elizabeth Tenety in her Washington Post Under God piece begs another, more important question: why isn’t all this “proof” of Hinduism’s influence in America recognized? One answer: Hinduism, as a religious tradition, has for too long been mischaracterized and caricaturized in and by the media, academia and even school textbooks with age-old, colonial stereotypes portraying Hindu belief and practice as little more than “caste, cows and curry.” At the same time, some Western Hinduism-practitioners, many of whom are celebrities in Western yoga circles, as well as Indian Hindu gurus (and wannabe gurus), have either intentionally or unintentionally delinked Hindu philosophy and non-ritual practices, including Vedanta, yoga and meditation, from Hinduism.
You began your reflection by departing from the most progressive points of Vatican II, to surpass them. What is the thrust of your foundation, global ethics?
There is a treasury of ethical, core values found in all great traditions: not killing, not stealing, not lying, not sexually abusing one’s neighbor.If, as a Christian, I have very strong arguments for not killing, I am convinced that Jews have those, too. And if we share these values, then peace between religions should be possible. There will not, indeed, be peace among nations without peace among religions, no peace among religions without dialogue between them, and no serious dialogue without common ethical standards. Global Ethics has come from this movement of thought, you understand, and is completely opposed to the thesis of “clash” of civilizations so dear in Huntington.Is it not just a humanist vision of the world in which God might as well be absent?
No, I believe in God and His Christ – even if I do not believe “in” the Church. The draft of Global Ethics is not asking anyone to renounce his faith. I even believe that the latter may increase in the commitment to this ethic. I would add that, as I do not like to demonize atheists, I consider that the “secularist” radicals also commit a great mistake to exclude religion from their reflections. Not only have they been disowned by the religious revival on the world stage, but I object, in every way, to the artificial opposition between clerical and anticlerical: Ethics must be an alliance between the two – based on ethical imperatives discussed more above. Overall, I am deeply committed to this sentence of the Declaration of the Parliament of World Religions (5): “We believe that our religious and ethical traditions, some dating back several millennia, convey an ethical and sustainable access for all people of good will, believers or not. » “
How do you envision the church of tomorrow?
My hope is not a uniform Church and to linger in the past, but a Christian church connected simultaneously to its origins and the present, in which national and regional profiles should not be melted in a undifferentiated unity. The future is not a confessional church narrowly locked but a Church wide open to ecumenism (6). It is not a patriarchal church, but a Church of partners: one day or another will be exceeded all privileges and all claims medieval (or from the early days of modernity), as the papal infallibility. And, finally, the future is not a Church Europeanized, or Eurocentric, but one universal Church.
In 1963, the New York Times described you as an “idealist without illusions.” Is the formula still valid?
Yes, I am neither a pessimist – there are enough on Earth – nor an optimist – there is too much misery and problems to solve. So I stayed with a realistic idealist horizon. And I am happy to have held this position without much fundamental change, despite all the obstacles I met on my way …
(1) The council is an assembly of bishops which establishes the rules of the common faith and discipline.
(2) Collegium Germanicum first, then as a consultant for the council.
(3) Opposed by Vatican II, Archbishop Lefebvre in 1970 founded the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X and the International Seminar Ecône. En 1988, il est excommunié pour avoir sacré quatre évêques traditionalistes sans l’aval de Rome. In 1988, he was excommunicated for having consecrated four traditionalist bishops without the approval of Rome.
(4) Coming to Latin America, liberation theology is a Christian school of thought and a socio-political movement inspired by Marxism (as a means of observation and analysis of the world), while detaching itself in ideological terms .
(5) The Parliament of World Religions marked the first attempt in 1893 to establish a comprehensive dialogue between religions. Since its rebirth in Chicago in 1993, it holds meetings every five years.
(6) Ecumenism promotes joint activities between the Christian churches, despite their doctrinal differences.
From The Huffington Post
By Eboo Patel
Once considered a ceremonial activity reserved for leaders of religious denominations or experts in theology, interfaith cooperation is fast becoming a movement focused on social impact that involves everyone.
In the twenty-first century, faith can be a bomb of destruction, a barrier of division or a bridge of cooperation.
The stories of religion as a bomb of destruction are on the front pages of the newspaper every morning. The suicide attacks in Baghdad and Kabul are examples of religion as a bomb of destruction, as is the violent tension between faith groups from Northern Ireland to Nigeria.
Those erecting the barriers of religious division are less dramatic but still dangerous. Their work moves a diverse society in the direction of conflict instead of cooperation. The ‘new atheists’ like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens build barriers by claiming all religious believers are poisoned and intent on poisoning others. Those who hold with Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations build barriers by advancing the idea that different religions are inherently and inevitably at odds with one another. Those who draw a straight line between the violent actions of a few extremists and an entire religion build barriers by telling people that every Muslim — their neighbor, their taxi driver, their friend from the PTA — is a potential enemy.
The materials that make up the bombs of destruction and the barriers of division are not just physical; they are also theological and intellectual. They include advancing theologies that require believers to suffocate or marginalize those who are different; emphasizing the stories of conflict between religious communities instead of the stories of cooperation; holding up the worst examples of the other community and saying that these examples define the whole group; and paying heightened attention to the differences between groups while proclaiming that there is no possibility of common ground.
The forces building bombs and barriers are strong. If the idea of faith as a bridge of cooperation is to win out, interfaith work has to expand from a small niche of enthusiasts to a social norm that involves everyone. Indeed, just as it is now status quo for universities, cities, civic groups and houses of worship to “go green,” so should it be the new norm for these entities to build bridges of interfaith cooperation.
President Obama knows the potential impact of interfaith cooperation, not just as a policymaker but also from his personal history. As a young community organizer in Chicago, Obama worked under a Jewish mentor to bring together Catholic, Protestant and Muslim groups to launch job training centers and educational enrichment programs on the south side of Chicago. He has lived the mission statement of the first Parliament of the World’s Religions, which took place in his home city over a century before he became President: “From now on the great religions of the world make war no longer on each other, and instead of on the giant ills that afflict humankind.”