The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘culture’ tag

Opening a Door to Traditional Korean Culture

This file photo shows participants at a Templestay program meditating in the woods with Korean Buddhist monks. (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism).

by Cho Chung-un
from the Korea Herald

Buddhism is not just a religion in Korea. It is an integral cultural asset that has substantially contributed to the development of the country’s tradition and arts for the last 1,700 years.

The Korean Buddhist culture now attempts to go abroad in an effort to better serve the rising global demand for learning about Korean history and culture, thanks to the popularity of K-pop around the world.

The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, an affiliate of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, plans to develop various programs to promote its two signature cultural offerings ― Templestays and temple food.

Its latest development includes a Templestay program designed exclusively for K-pop fans from France created in collaboration with the Korea Tourism Organization. It also plans to open the first temple food restaurant on the rooftop of the French department store Galeries Lafayette in Paris next year.

Click here to read the full article

September 1st, 2012 at 10:55 am

Faith and Race: A Dialogue Worth Having

by Phillipe Copeland

According to the Abrahamic traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith, the universe itself was spoken into being. This offers a fitting metaphor for the promise of interreligious dialogue, the promise of a new creation. Like the speaking into being of the universe, for interreligious dialogue to fulfill this promise requires attention to detail. We must be attentive not only to what we are dialoguing about but who is engaged in the dialogue.

In my experience, interreligious dialogue is too often limited to issues of religious identity. The exception tends to be gender. Given that women represent at least half of the human race, talking about the intersection of faith and gender is time well spent. However, historical forces and contemporary social, political and social realities have conspired to make each of us not only gendered beings but also highly racialized beings. Race is always in the room when interreligious dialogue is going on whether we acknowledge it or not.

This may appear self evident, but ask yourself how many interreligious dialogues you have participated in where race is not discussed even in societal contexts rife with racial conflict and oppression? The silence can indeed be deafening. Can there truly be a full and rich exchange across faiths if the meanings people are making of race and the spiritual resources they draw on to combat racism aren’t being discussed? For example, when I participate in an interreligious dialogue, I am never only participating as a Baha’i, but as a Black, male, Baha’i living in the United States. Understanding my faith requires understanding how it is embodied in my experience of being a Black man in America.

For example, I have been invited to interreligious dialogue where participants would walk away having learned a great deal about the life and mission of Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. They may have heard about Baha’i laws and spiritual practices. They most certainly would have heard something regarding Baha’i teachings about social justice. What they may not have heard is that Baha’u’llah compared Black people to the pupil of the eye which is “dark in color but a fountain of light and revealer of the…world.” They may not grasp the impact of this metaphor, which subverts centuries of propaganda making darkness an undesirable trait, on my healing from internalized racial inferiority. They might miss the contribution that the multi-racial, international community Baha’u’llah has raised up has had on the salvation of Black men like me. To offer one example, in 2006 I was welcomed along with thirty-one other Black men from the United States to the Baha’i World Center, located in Haifa, Israel. Our recent services, collaborating with Baha’is in Ghana in the process of community-building, were graciously recognized. Men, whom at home were so often the objects of fear and loathing were celebrated like heroes by people from virtually every nation on earth. It was a taste of heaven I will not soon forget. For me to engage in interreligious dialogue and fail to share such intersections of faith and race represent missed opportunities. Others may fail to appreciate an essential aspect of Baha’i teaching and practice. More importantly, they may miss the chance to engage in a dialogue about the role religion can play in freeing humanity from the inevitable consequences of the color line. Surely that is a dialogue worth having.

Thankfully, I’ve had opportunities to bring my racial reality to interreligious dialogues. One of my fondest memories of being a student at Harvard Divinity School was working with a white, male Unitarian Universalist on a series of dialogues about race and culture for students, faculty and staff. As an alumnus, I was able to participate in a panel discussion about faith-based responses to crisis among people of African Descent that included Baha’i, Muslim and Christian perspectives. These conversations deepened the theological reflection of all involved about the intersection of faith and race and were richer for it. In these conversations, I caught glimpses of the promise of interreligious dialogue, of new worlds of racial unity and justice spoken into being.

Phillipe Copeland is author of the award winning blog Baha’i Thought that provides commentary on religion, society, and culture informed by the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. He is a contributing scholar to the multi-author blog State of Formation that is sponsored by the Journal of Interreligious Dialogue. Mr. Copeland is an adjunct faculty member of the Boston University School of Social Work and is a clinical social worker specializing in behavioral health and forensics.

French Catholic School a Refuge for Muslims

Photo credit: Benoit Jurzynski

by Ruadhan MacCormaic
from the Irish Times

Marseille: It’s the Friday before mid-term break at Tour Sainte, and there’s a giddy mood in the yard as the children file out past Stéphane Thiébaut, the school principal. “Bonnes vacances,” he calls out to the parents and teachers milling about in the spring sunshine.

Tour Sainte has some of the best views in Marseille, its hilltop perch giving a wide panorama of the city and the Mediterranean. Birds are singing from the trees in the yard, while the glare of the warm sun against the peach buildings accentuates the calm. ‘We have built ourselves a little oasis of peace,” Thiébaut remarks.

Click here to read the full article

Immigrants Remaking Canada’s Religious Face in Surprising Ways

Image from Lalani & Associates

by Douglas Todd
from the Vancouver Sun

Canada is welcoming more than the global average of immigrants who are Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and non-religious.

The country, however, is taking in less than the global average of immigrants who are Muslim, Hindu and Jewish.

Those are some of the surprising findings of a sweeping global survey on immigration and religion conducted by the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report, titled Faith on the Move, provides an enormous amount of data on the religious loyalties of the world’s 214-million immigrants, a group larger than the population of Brazil.

Canada, which has 7.2 million permanent residents who were not born in the country, is the fifth most popular destination for the world’s immigrants. This country of 34 million accepts twice as many immigrants per capita as the U.S.

The Pew Forum report, which describes migration patterns in every country of the world, makes clear that immigration is changing the religious face of Canada in unexpected ways.

Click here to read the full article

Improved Religious Understanding and Presence Necessary to Transform Conflict, US Institute of Peace Finds

from the US Institute of Peace

Qamar-ul Huda, Senior Program Officer in the Religion and Peacemaking Center and a scholar of Islam at the US Institute of Peace discusses in a newly-published report that discusses appropriate steps to community recovery and rebuilding after incendiary events. He states that “there needs to be symbolic acts of reaching out to communities who have been offended to restore trust, rebuild relationships, acknowledge lapses of proper judgment, and the need to use collaborative conflict resolution. If the aim is to work toward a culture of peacemaking, then a revised training in culture should consist of key religious values and customs, with an emphasis on understanding honor, guilt, empathy, ethics, and justice.”

Click here to read the full report

Catholic Couple Embark on Interfaith “Pilgrimage,” Circle World on Religious Tolerance Quest

by Gillian Flaccus
from the Huffington Post

CLAREMONT, Calif. — Frederic and Anne-Laure Pascal are devout Roman Catholics who built their lives around their religion. When she lost her job last year, the young couple decided on an unlikely expression of their religious commitment: a worldwide “interfaith pilgrimage” to places where peace has won out over dueling dogmas.

Since October, the French couple has visited 11 nations from Iraq to Malaysia in an odyssey to find people of all creeds who have dedicated their lives to overcoming religious intolerance in some of the world’s most divided and war-torn corners.

The husband-and-wife team blogs about their adventures – and their own soul-searching – and takes short video clips for the project they’ve dubbed the Faithbook Tour.

Click here to read the full article

The Surprising–and Continuing–Influence of Swami Vivekananda

The swami Vivekananda, the Bengali monk who brought yoga to the United States, meditating in London, in 1896. Courtesy of the Vedanta Society

by A. L. Bardach
from the Wall Street Journal

By the late 1960s, the most famous writer in America had become a recluse, having forsaken his dazzling career. Nevertheless, J.D. Salinger often came to Manhattan, staying at his parents’ sprawling apartment on Park Avenue and 91st Street. While he no longer visited with his editors at “The New Yorker,” he was keen to spend time with his spiritual teacher, Swami Nikhilananda, the founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, located, then as now, in a townhouse just three blocks away, at 17 East 94th Street.

Though the iconic author of “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Franny and Zooey” published his last story in 1965, he did not stop writing. From the early 1950s onward, he maintained a lively correspondence with several Vedanta monks and fellow devotees.

After all, the central, guiding light of Salinger’s spiritual quest was the teachings of Vivekananda, the Calcutta-born monk who popularized Vedanta and yoga in the West at the end of the 19th century.

These days yoga is offered up in classes and studios that have become as ubiquitous as Starbucks. Vivekananda would have been puzzled, if not somewhat alarmed. “As soon as I think of myself as a little body,” he warned, “I want to preserve it, protect it, to keep it nice, at the expense of other bodies. Then you and I become separate.” For Vivekananda, who established the first ever Vedanta Center, in Manhattan in 1896, yoga meant just one thing: “the realization of God.”

Click here to read the full article.

London 2012: How Do the Olympics Handle Religion?

by Michael Hirst
from BBC News

How do you cater for athletes of nine different religions at the Olympic Games?

The man charged with answering that question for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, Locog, is Reverend Canon Duncan Green, an Anglican priest who has been seconded to Locog as its head of faith services.

His starting point was to form a faith reference group comprising representatives of the UK’s nine largest religions – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Jain and Bahai – to advise on issues around faith in order to cater to the observations of practicing athletes, spectators and officials.

Click here to read the full article

April 12th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Rise in UK Multifaith Prayer Rooms, a Liverpool Study Reveals

The multifaith space at the Museum of Liverpool

from BBC News

The number of shared spaces for prayer, reflection and meditation has risen over the last 10 years, a study has found.

Researchers from The University of Liverpool said there were more than 1,500 multifaith spaces in the UK.

Dr Andrew Crompton from the University of Liverpool said the increase came in spite of “a decline in the popularity of established religion”.

Click here to read the full article. 

A Jewish Synagogue Makes a Comeback in Lebanon

Two Syrian workers in the Magen Abraham synagogue. Photo Credit: Natalie Naccache

by Nicholas Blanford
from the Christian Science Monitor

Amid the new tower blocks that are changing this city’s skyline rises a newly restored symbol of Beirut’s multireligious society.

The Magen Abraham synagogue is the last Jewish place of worship to survive in Beirut, a lone reminder that a few decades ago a thriving Jewish community lived in the city center.

The Jewish faith is one of the 18 officially recognized sects that exist in Lebanon. When the synagogue was built in 1920 there were some 12,000 Jews in Lebanon. But the Arab-Israeli conflict and Lebanon’s devastating 1975-90 civil war spurred Jews to emigrate, and today there are only around 150 left here.

Click here to read the full article.

April 9th, 2012 at 7:55 am