Archive for the ‘belgium’ tag
by David Meyer
BRUSSELS – A few years ago, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks used an interesting metaphor to describe the interfaith reality of Europe’s pluralistic society. Living with multiculturalism, he argued, we must ask ourselves whether we intend to be together in the same shared house, or whether we are just guests in the same hotel.
The difference between the two images is striking. If we are indeed sharing a common home, even building it together, we need a common set of goals and frank give-and-take, lest our shared residence never get off the ground. Alternatively, if we are just guests who will pass one another occasionally in a hotel lobby, it will suffice if we can converse politely when we happen to meet.
As a European rabbi, I have made my choice. I am building the house. And the current multicultural nature of our society makes me want to find partners of other faiths with whom to share the effort.
But what sort of communal home are we aiming for? We each have identities and differences that we are just not willing to give up. So even though our common European house should indeed have solid foundations and a pleasant ground floor room for all to meet – it’s equally important that we have our own individual rooms one floor up, with doors we can safely leave unlocked. The challenge, then, is double: setting the foundations right so that we can customize our own rooms without endangering the building’s stability, and finding a way to share this vision in an exciting way with a wider audience.
The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions may still be fresh in our memories, but planning for the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions is already well underway. Recently, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) announced the three participating bid cities as Brussels, Belgium; Dallas, Texas, USA; and Guadalajara, Mexico. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada will be present throughout the bidding process to audit.
All three cities’ Bid Teams participated in a Partnership Conference in Chicago, Illinois from May 16-20, 2010. At the Partnership Conference, the bid cities were briefed on the CPWR’s requirements for the site selection process and the Parliament event. The actual statistical and financial information from the 2009 Parliament in Melbourne, Australia was also made available to the bid cities who have to submit their final written proposal to the Council by August 1, 2010. After reviewing the proposals and conducting host site visits, the CPWR will make its final selection for the 2014 host city in March 2011. The 2014 host city will be publicly announced in October 2011.
After all of the technicalities of the Partnership Conference were over, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu treated the bid cities to a special address on May 20, 2010 via a live video stream from Cape Town, South Africa. In his address, Archbishop Tutu welcomed the cities to the bidding process and articulated the positive impact hosting the Parliament can have in making their city more inclusive and tolerant. The address marked South Africa’s 10th anniversary of hosting the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Archbishop Tutu’s address took place as part of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative’s 10th anniversary celebration, which included the launch of Karen Armstrong’s Charter For Compassion in South Africa. Armstrong, who was a featured speaker at the 2009 Parliament, also addressed the Partnership Conference via a pre-recorded video from Cape Town.