Archive for the ‘Interreligious Movement’ tag
Looking for a new CEO for the CPWR
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) has launched a search for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to lead the organization through transformational change in order to advance the interreligious movement on a global scale.
The mission of CPWR is to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world. In fulfillment of this mission the Council convenes a Parliament event every five years attracting up to 10,000 participants from all the major religions and from as many as 70 Countries. A variety of other programs have grown out of the Parliament events including a Partner Cities Program and a Social Cohesion project.
Within this mission framework, the CEO will manage the organizational affairs of the Council implementing the policies of the Board of Trustees. He/she will supervise all the departments of the organization with special emphasis on financial management, fundraising and institutional vision.
CPWR is based in Chicago and operates with a small but flexible staff on an annual budget of approximately $500,000, with significant increases in years in which a Parliament is scheduled.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions began in 1893. Today it convenes the largest interreligious gatherings in the world. The most recent Parliament events have been held in Chicago, USA(1993), Cape Town, South Africa(1999), Barcelona(2004) and Melbourne, Australia(2009). For more information see www.parliamentofreligions.org
Qualifications for the position include: successful management experience in a business or not-for-profit setting, familiarity with principles of organizational development, demonstrated financial/fundraising skills and experience or interest in serving the interreligious movement.
APPLY FOR THIS JOB:
|Contact Person:||David Erickson-Pearson||Phone:||303-703-6165|
The Mission of the Parliament
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
To accomplish this, we invite individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal.
The vision of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is of a just, peaceful and sustainable world in which:
- Religious and spiritual communities live in harmony and contribute to a better world from their riches of wisdom and compassion
- Religious and cultural fears and hatreds are replaced with understanding and respect
- People everywhere come to know and care for their neighbors
- The richness of human and religious diversity is woven into the fabric of communal, civil, societal and global life
- The world’s most powerful and influential institutions move beyond narrow self-interest to realize common good
- The Earth and all life are cherished, protected, healed and restored
- All people commit to living out their highest values and aspirations.
by Stephanie Le Bars
from The Guardian Weekly
Hugues Rondeau is the Radical party mayor of Bussy-Saint-Georges, a new town in the Paris suburbs. His taste for “ordered urban space” has led to an innovation: the multi-faith district. On a plot of land just beyond the built-up area, he has authorised the construction of several places of worship.
“Here there will be two Buddhist temples, a mosque, a synagogue, a Chinese evangelical church and an Armenian cultural centre,” said the mayor, a practising Catholic who is convinced that in a secular state the government should not turn a blind eye to religious fact. “Our 30,000 inhabitants are mostly of foreign origin with 45% from Asia,” he said. “We couldn’t deprive them of their religious practice.”
by Saumya Arya Haas
from Huffington Post
I never learned much about religion until I started hanging out at Muddy Waters Coffee Shop on the corner of Lyndale and 24th in Uptown, Minneapolis.
I was raised to be a priestess (of Hinduism), grew up surrounded by world scripture and philosophy, and was taught by learned scholars and mystics. But my religious education didn’t really begin until I started talking — and listening — to other people from other ways of life. I had a great foundation but it had to evolve beyond what I could experience as an individual. Understanding is a journey, and it’s nice to have company if you can get it.
When Muddy’s opened in the late 80s, it was grungy, grubby and the bathroom was frightening. The only food on the “menu” was Pop-Tarts and SpaghettiOs. Punks, goth kids and all the other wonderful misfits of Minneapolis risked splinters from the rickety picnic tables to enjoy caffeine and conversation in precious Midwestern sunlight. I would come with my friends but talked to everyone. I got over my fear of homeless people and started seeing them as just people. Some reminded me of the wandering sages of my almost-native India, people who lived by choice or necessity on the fringes and accumulated hardship wisdom the rest of us shied away from.
All the scriptural education in the world is not worth one good hour-long conversation with a stranger about their beliefs.
by Valarie Kaur
from Huffington Post
This essay is based on an excerpt from the author’s journal when she was sixteen years old.
Usually on Sunday mornings, my father’s outside on a tractor, my mother’s making aloo pronthas, my brother’s watching cartoons, and I’m sleeping in. Sometimes, my mother crams the whole family into Baba Ji’s room to sing shabads and recite Scripture together. But on this Sunday morning, my grandfather has asked me to come with him to the gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship some miles away. At sixteen years old, I dutifully follow.
I’m still rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I slip off my shoes. Wrapped in a long head scarf, I follow my grandfather inside. One step takes us from our small farming town in California’s Central Valley into an entire world transported from India.
Inside, the congregation sits on the floor. On the right, a sea of men in turbans of black, saffron, blue and red cloth; on the left, women in silk and cotton, solid-colored, tie-dyed and embroidered chunnis of all different colors draped over long braids and jooras. Children sit next to their mothers and fidgeted. A little boy runs around islands of praying people before escorted out to the jungle gym. The elderly lean against the walls, eyes closed; while the younger folks listen to the prayers, the older ones seem to reside within the prayers.
This essay is an excerpt from “My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, And Transformation” from Orbis.
The whole room revolves around the sacred space that holds the “living Guru”: the 1,400 pages of Sikh verse known as Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The sacred book sits on a table draped in fine silvery blue cloths folded back to reveal the sacred lines of Gurmuki script whose poetry is read, sung and contemplated. Hanging from the ceiling over the sacred book is a magnificent blue canopy embroidered with a single brilliant character in Punjabi script, the first mysterious and profound word of our holy text. Ek Onkar: God is One. As ever, its two linked circles dropped from a top line, the stem connected those shoots up and umbrellas over in a long elegant stroke.
As I wait in line to bow my head before the Book, my eyes fall on the swords and daggers displayed at its base. Sikhs wielded these kirpans to defend the faith for hundreds of years in India, and I grew up hearing epic tales of battle and torture and martyrdom: Guru Arjan Ji tortured in a red hot caldron, Guru Gobind Ji’s young sons bricked in alive, Baba Deep Singh holding his own severed head in hand as he fought in battle. These blood-soaked legends of Sikhs resisting the Moghul empire came down to us as stories of resilience and sacrifice — our ancestors died so that we might live. The kirpans represent an enduring commitment to fight injustice and stand tall for faith and community. But it’s hard for me to eye the sharp edge. Sikh girls aren’t taught to fight like that. I drop my dollar on the pile of donations, close my eyes, bow my head to the floor and whisper the only words I can summon: Ek Onkar.
I follow my grandfather and sit with him on the men’s side — my modest act of defiance in a culture that too often divides women from men despite the Scripture’s teachings on equality. We listen to the granthis, singers flown from India to sing shabads from the Scriptures accompanied by the tabla and harmonium; their voices — sad, meditative and beseeching — rise, dip and waver. As the voices soar, I close my eyes and move into deep reflection.
by Jeff Brumley
from Associated Baptist Press
Interfaith dialogue is on the rise, not just in formal conversations led by judicatory leaders but in local communities where friendships forge as ministers of various faiths work together for common goals amid increasing religious diversity in the Bible belt.
Kyle Reese, pastor at Hendricks Avenue Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., has been highly visible in community interfaith efforts, especially in his dialogue with Muslim and Jewish spiritual leaders. He refers to Imam Joe Bradford as “best friend” – as he does a rabbi and an Orthodox Christian priest.
Pastor Steve Jones, who made headlines working with Jews and Muslims to tackle social injustice in Birmingham, Ala., said the same about Rabbi Jonathan Miller. “I am closer to these guys than I am with many other Baptist ministers,” said Jones, the senior pastor of Southside Baptist Church.
by Brad Hirschfield
from the Huffington Post
I flew into Syracuse, N.Y., on a windy evening in October of 2000. After we landed, I hailed a cab. This not being New York City, where I am from, there was no cab line, no wait and no time to look at the car I was jumping into.
As soon as I was in the cab however, I noticed that pretty much every surface of the car’s interior was covered with a JESUS LOVES YOU sticker, that there was a crucifix mounted on the dashboard and there were even little green pocket bibles hanging on strings at the point where the windshield meets the frame of the car. This wasn’t just a cab, it was a rolling cathedral!
Part of me thought I should just jump out of the car, but we were already pulling away from the curb and I didn’t want to cause any trouble or cost the driver his fare.
This essay is an excerpt from “My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, And Transformation” from Orbis.
As he pulled out of the airport, the cabdriver, a middle-aged man with a scraggly beard, lo
ng greasy blond hair and wearing a red checkered shirt, cut off at the sleeves, was checking me out in the rearview mirror. He was actually using his rearview mirror to see if what he thought he saw on the back of my head (a kippah/yarmulke/skullcap) was really there.
Having decided that it was really back there, which it was, he finally asked in the raspy voice of a heavy smoker, “So, what do you do?”
by James Faulconer
Because of the alliterative relationship between the words “Mormon” and “Muslim” and because of widespread ignorance among Americans about both groups, it isn’t at all unusual for people to confuse Mormons with Muslims. Given events of the last ten or fifteen years and the current political campaign, that ignorance is abating for both groups.
Most people know that Mormons are not Muslims. And, probably partly because of Mitt Romney’s campaign, they fear Mormons less than Muslims. Sixty percent of those polled are comfortable or somewhat comfortable with a Mormon presidential candidate. Only 38 percent feel that way about a hypothetical Muslim candidate. So Mormons have less work to do explaining themselves than Muslims, but both share the need to do that explaining.
It isn’t unusual to have Muslim visitors come to Brigham Young University, and because of my work at the university, I’m sometimes asked to help host them. When I first started doing this, I was a little nervous. I wasn’t afraid of Muslims, but I was ignorant of them. As a result I was nervous about how to talk with them. Everything I knew about Islam was merely factual, stuff I learned in school and from books, and from reading the Quran about fifteen years ago. To my knowledge, I had visited and talked with a Muslim face-to-face only once in my life before four years ago.
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.