Archive for the ‘Interfaith Movement’ tag
INTERFAITH EVENT FRIDAY: Solidarity Circle for Father Solalinde and the Caravan Opening Doors to Hope
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in partnership with the DePaul University Office of Religious Diversity is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope.
Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery.
NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde’s entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR.
In this hour we will…
-Hear words from Mexico’s 2012 Human Rights Award recipient
Watch a short film documenting the reality of the migrant train in Mexico
-Welcome Amnesty International to recognize the work of Padre Solalinde
-Share our blessings and offerings to the migrant activists
-Extend our wishes for peace and security to the caravan
-Personally connect Chicago’s young interfaith leaders with a hero to a humanitarian crisis
TO ATTEND: All are welcome, but for seat reservations contact molly@parliamentofreligion
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
The Power of the Interfaith Movement: Martin Luther King III Address World Congress of Religions 2012
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2012
Chairperson Dr. Pradip K. Ghosh opened the World Congress of Religions 2012 by calling forth the interfaith movement as a powerful force for solving social problems. The Congress commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
Dr. Ghosh stated, “We are fortunate to gather a number of accomplished representatives from various religions for interfaith dialog. Swami Vivekananda’s ideals of universal acceptance will go a long way to foster peace and harmony among people of different faiths and beliefs.”
Mr. Martin Luther King III’s speech celebrated the visionary moral leadership offered by his fatherMartin Luther King Jr. and Swami Vivekananda. He called for unity and harmony, built upon the common ground of universal sacred values among religions. He provided personal examples of fostering forgiveness and harmony, and rejection of violence. Mr. King encouraged increasing education on non-violence, including teaching conflict resolution and emotional literacy. Emotional literacy is necessary to reject the culture of violence and deal with anger and frustration in peaceful and creative ways.
by Yonatan Neril
from The Huffington Post
The Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison tells the following story: A young girl with a bird in her hands went to a wise person. The child asked the wise person, “Is the bird in my hands alive or dead?” If the answer was “dead,” she would open her hands. If the answer was “alive,” she would close her hand and kill the bird. The wise person, sensing her intention, responded, “I cannot say whether the bird is alive or dead, but I can say that the fate of the bird is in your hands.”
Today we have in our hands not one bird, and not just all birds, but all living beings on our planet, including 7 billion human beings.
I grew up on an acre of land in California with a large orchard and organic garden. In my BA and MA studies with a focus on global environmental issues, I conducted research in India on renewable energy and in Mexico on genetically modified corn. I came to see first-hand global environmental changes that humanity is effecting on this planet. Following these studies and research, I studied for a number of years in a rabbinic program. Because of my environmental background, I encountered traditional Jewish texts from a particular lens, and realized that my own tradition offers profound teachings that relate to environmental sustainability. I also came to realize that other faith traditions — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others — also speak deeply about the roots of and solutions to our environmental challenges. Based on this understanding, I founded The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to access the collective wisdom of the world’s religions to promote co-existence and environmental sustainability through education and action.
by Robert Sellers
How should Baptists relate to persons of other faiths? “Where am I going to meet someone like that?” might be the question of many Baptists, especially in the “Bible Belt” of the deep South. Well, we no longer need to travel internationally to encounter them. Here in this country they are our office colleagues, university classmates, town merchants and healthcare workers, active-duty soldiers, or local firefighters and police officers. They congregate in community centers and shopping districts of our large cities, establishing an ethnic, cultural quarter that is distinct and well-defined. They lobby city councils and zoning boards for permission to build mosques, temples, gurdwaras, or synagogues on quiet, tree-lined streets. They manage play groups and summer camps, participate in science fairs and musical competitions, and conduct food and craft bazaars. Most importantly, such families are living in our suburban neighborhoods, where we meet them at backyard barbecues and pool parties. At school their youngsters become our children’s and grandchildren’s friends and competitors and may one day become our daughters- and sons-in law. None of these new realities should surprise anyone, for this growing segment of our population belongs here, for they too are Americans.
Yet, the increasing cultural and religious plurality in the United States, coupled with recent world events, makes it difficult for many Americans to know just how to relate to minority religious and ethnic groups. My immediate concern here, however, is how Baptist Americans—those of my own religious heritage—think about and treat our neighbors of other faiths.
CERTAINLY NOT WITH FEAR AND STEREOTYPING
There are several ways of relating to religious others. One approach that is totally unproductive and damaging is to react with fear and stereotyping. There is evidence of this negativity all around us. Books that claim to know the “truth” about other religions line the shelves of popular Christian bookstores. Internet “you-won’t-believe-it!” stories about religions and their practitioners are forwarded, perhaps by millions of church members, without regard for whether the accounts are factual or kind—or simply constitute urban legends, political propaganda, or hate-mongering. Regrettably, Baptist leaders—the most recent being Robert Jeffress—make public statements that draw critical reactions and portray an intolerant spirit.
According to Harvard professor Diana Eck: “Without question, some Americans are afraid of the changing face of our country. After all, the first response to difference is often suspicion and fear.”# This nebulous fearfulness expresses itself in stereotypical thinking and unkind generalizations. Reacting with fear and stereotyping, however, is uncivil and unchristian, yet Baptists have not been guiltless in this regard. One particularly harsh judgment, for example, was made by Baptist Franklin Graham, who in the aftermath of 9-11 called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.”# Speaking to NBC News in 2001, he remarked: “It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, and it wasn’t Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.”# Graham’s generalization circled the globe via the internet and painted Baptists worldwide in harsh shades of black and white. As an institution dedicated to proselytism, the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board has produced Prayer Guides that direct members of the denomination, especially during the high holy days of individual religions, to pray for “lost” Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Muslims who are bound by “confusing and mistaken belief[s]” and who practice “meaningless rituals.”#
Fomenting fear of followers of other faiths by making grossly stereotypical observations and patently untrue accusations—or uncritically passing along such inflammatory material—will not encourage peace or cooperation. May Baptists never build walls when we ought to construct bridges.
NOT EVEN WITH INDIFFERENCE OR TOLERATION
A second possible approach to religious others is to act with indifference or toleration. Perhaps we believe that tolerating differences is the best way, because it is a moral solution with impressive historical roots. The Greek moralist Plato considered the crowning human virtue to be “harmonious action [that] forges a link between [an] individual and [others within society].”# Immannuel Kant, the German Enlightenment rationalist, argued that people should act in such a way that they could be satisfied were their action the universal behavioral norm.# These lofty European ideals were preceded by parallel sentiments from Asia. Confucius taught his followers to cultivate loyalty, humanity, integrity, mutual respect, personal self-restraint, and harmonious family and social relationships.# Similarly, the ancient Buddhist philosopher Shantideva taught that “[i]f you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience, and understanding.”# So, tolerating others is certainly better than not tolerating them!
The problem with toleration, however, is that it may just be a polite word for “indifference.” Diana Eck acknowledges that “[a]lthough tolerance is no doubt a step forward from intolerance, it does not require new neighbors to know anything about one another. Tolerance can create a climate of restraint but not one of understanding.”# Tolerance becomes indifference if its mantra morphs from “we all have a right to be ourselves” to “let them just be whoever they want.” Whenever our language turns from talk of “we” to references to “they,” a dichotomy, a chasm, a rift has formed between us and them, between ourselves and the “Other.”
As America becomes more religiously and culturally pluralistic, some Baptists regrettably practice only toleration, mistaking the philosophical moral norm for the ethic of Jesus Christ, which is much more demanding. May we never merely tolerate our multi-religious neighbors, much less treat them with indifference, as if they are not important to God.
BUT WITH COMPASSION AND FRIENDSHIP
How, then, should Baptists relate to religious others? We need to respond with compassion and friendship. Jesus is our model for approaching others. He crossed multiple barriers that separated respectable religious folk of his day from the foreigners, disenfranchised, and marginalized of Palestinian society. Toward a host of persons whom most merely tolerated, and others who were feared, stereotyped, and even violently oppressed, Jesus was inclusive, attentive, helpful, and befriending.
Of course, genuine friendships require honest communication, which necessitates both talking and listening—dialogue instead of monologue. Also, friendships are always more successful where there is mutual esteem and a genuine interest in the other. Such connections require both time and great patience. This kind of relationship that stretches across cultural and religious barriers may be more difficult, but it is adventuresome and hugely rewarding.
Genesis 18, in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament, records the occasion when Abraham was sitting outside his tent at Mamre, seeking a breeze on a stiflingly hot Middle Eastern day. Three strangers appeared in the hazy distance—perhaps enemies, clearly not a part of Abraham’s clan. But, interestingly, Abraham eagerly went to greet the strangers, first falling down before them in an extravagant gesture of welcome, later offering a warm meal and place to rest in his personal tent. British historian, comparative religionist, and author Karen Armstrong astutely notes that “during the ensuing conversation, it transpires quite naturally that one of these strangers is Abraham’s God. The act of practical compassion led directly to a divine encounter.”#
It is my conviction, one I passionately hold, that most of the people who follow other faiths—like most Baptists—are good people who would like to tear down the walls of separation and build bridges of connection. But in order for us to do our part, we must not react to them with fear and stereotyping. We have to go beyond mere indifference or toleration. The way forward, the way of Jesus, is to respond with compassion and friendship. And, when we risk forging new friendships with our multi-religious neighbors, they will no longer be as strangers to us. Such a bonding can provide an experience of real transcendence, for in acting toward them in a godly fashion, we will be enriched by the evidences of God in them.
Robert P. Sellers is professor of missions and theology at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and represents Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches, USA. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Arts and Culture Bring Peace and Reconciliation To Multi-Religious and Multi-Ethnic Communities in Sri Lanka
by Iromi Dharmawardhane
The arts and culture can be powerful catalysts in bringing about reconciliation within the hearts of individuals as well as between communities, changing who we are and how we relate to each other. Reconciliation through the arts and other cultural mediums can occur in two ways: firstly, a victim of war may find it easier to express one’s pain – including one’s remorse – through aesthetic mediums, and secondly, artistic and cultural projects and performances which are a fruit of collaboration between individuals belonging to different communities would lead to the regaining of each other’s trust and respect, understanding each other’s different but equally painful war-time experiences, learning about what is common and valuing what is unique in each other’s cultural heritage, and at last recognizing each other’s interdependence.
The arts, whether it is through music, painting, poetry, prose, song, dance, film, photography, theater, or puppetry, can be a vehicle for truth, dialogue, and inter-cultural understanding for communities who speak different languages in nations where communal relations have been battered by the circumstances of war. Sri Lanka has seen several outstanding examples of how the arts have a great part to play in the national reconciliation process. An extraordinary concert was organized and directed by Mrs. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan on March 6, 2012 in Sri Lanka where an orchestra comprising 100 young musicians from all districts of Sri Lanka performed in unison, playing a variety of Oriental and Western instruments. This talented and large assembly of musicians from diverse backgrounds conveyed a convincing and memorable message of “unity in diversity”.
The Aru Sri Art Theatre troupe founded by Mrs. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan to promote inter-ethnic harmony rendered a captivating performance of the dance drama Sri Ram at the International Ramayana Festival in Bintaan, Indonesia on April 12 – 13, 2012 and in Singapore on April 14. They also presented scintillating performances of classical compositions on Hindu themes such as Bharathanatyam and the Cosmic Dance of Shiva which were performed by Sri Lankan dancers of different ethnicities and religions. The conciliatory power of the performing arts in drawing different ethnic groups together was never so vividly and vibrantly depicted. Aru Sri Art Theatre offers audiences across Sri Lanka and overseas contemporary interpretations and innovative productions of rich historical and cultural lore, while retaining the purity of the traditional performing arts. Sri Lankan theater and dance companies and associations, in this way, can organize dance symposiums to celebrate and bring together the different dance types in the Sinhalese tradition (such as Upcountry dances, Low Country dances, Sabaragamuwa dances, and folk dances) and the Tamil tradition (such as bharatanatyam, kathakali, and naddu koothu and other folk dances).
Sri Lanka held the Interfaith Music Festival (a first in Asia) in February 2012 which was organized and created by the Mother Sri Lanka Trust and The Art of Living Foundation. Children from across the island came together to perform Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Islamic chants and songs on one stage. The highly-praised Jaffna Music Festival was held in March 2011 where hundreds of local folk artists from all over Sri Lanka as well as international folk artists performed in Jaffna in celebration of the unique and diverse traditional musical heritage of Sri Lanka and the world. This event was organized by the Sewalanka Foundation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Aru Sri Art Theatre, and Concerts Norway.
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.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — A group of U.S. Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders briefed lawmakers on their tour of Indonesia, Jordan and Israel.
The six-day trip on the role of religion in advancing Middle East peace was led by Rabbi Sid Schwarz and included 12 religious leaders from the United States and 12 religious leaders from Indonesia. It was organized by the Interfaith Mission for Peace and Understanding.
On Wednesday, the group briefed the U.S. House of Representatives Indonesia Caucus, which is co-chaired by Reps. Jim McDermott (R-Wash.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who were in attendance.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the community’s public policy umbrella, highlighted the importance of the partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia.
From The New Humanism
We start with our stories.
My name is Chris Stedman. I have an indiscriminate love of tattoos, a couple degrees in religious studies, and don’t believe in God. I am also an ardent advocate of interfaith cooperation.
The idea that interfaith cooperation is necessary to advance social progress was not a conclusion I came to overnight. In fact, after I stopped believing in God, I spent some time walking about decrying the “evils of religion” to anyone who would listen. I wanted nothing to do with the religious, and was sure they wanted nothing to do with me.
After reflecting on several episodes where I neglected to engage the religious identities of people I otherwise respected and admired, I realized that I had been so busy talking that I wasn’t listening. I was treating “religion” as a concept instead of talking to people who actually lived religious lives. And when I started listening, something interesting happened. I realized that my approach to religion was lazy and distorted: I’d been thinking of the texts, not the practices; the stereotypes, not the people. It was only once I observed the actual practices of religious communities—and, more importantly, engaged with religious people and their stories—that I was able to see the benefits of collaborating across lines of ideology and identity differences.
From The New Humanism
There are some specific issues that nonreligious persons should consider before participating in interfaith work.
Many nonreligious individuals who engage in interfaith work will continue to struggle with their personal belief that the religious stories they encounter are false and the feeling that they must articulate this conviction. They will likely ask themselves, as Atheist author Salman Rushdie wrote in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” However, we would do well to recognize that we aren’t the only ones in the room with conflicting feelings. Evangelical Christians involved in interfaith must reconcile their participation with the importance their tradition puts on evangelizing. Interfaith cooperation requires that we both acknowledge these very real contradictions and be bigger than them.
Related to the issue above, the nonreligious must be careful not to overestimate our particularity in interfaith work. Religious folks have exclusive truth claims, just as we believe that our understanding of the world is the most accurate. For example, many Christians doing interfaith work believe that every other faith represented in the interfaith movement is a false understanding of the world. Additionally, the nonreligious will often find other non-theists in the room, including Buddhists, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, secular Jews, secular Muslims, secular Christians, and so on. By reminding ourselves that we aren’t so unusual, we can remain humble and open-minded in our interfaith efforts.