The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘online’ tag

Interfaith Social Media: Interfaith Leadership in the Digital World

Interfaith Social Media:  Interfaith Leadership in the Digital World - a Parliament Webinar with Frank Fredericks

Register Now Wednesday, May 9, 2012 10:00am U.S. Central Time

This webinar will explore how to think about social media.  Using the frameworks of Marshall McLuhan, marketing theory, and media hook, we will explore how to leverage these technologies tactically, to comprise an effective overall strategy in interfaith and religious work.  #socialinterfaith

Frank Fredericks is the founder of World Faith, Çöñár Records, and Co-Founder of Religious Freedom USA. After graduating from NYU, Frank worked in the music industry, managing artists such as Lady Gaga. In 2006, he founded World Faith. a youth-led interfaith organization active in ten countries. As an active blogger, Frank has contributed to the Huffington Post, Washington Post, and Sojourners. Frank has been interviewed on Good Morning America, NPR, New York Magazine, and various international media outlets, and is an IFYC Fellow Alumnus, Soliya Fellow, and YouthActionNet Fellow.

Frank also works as an independent Online Marketing and PR Consultant, consulting non-profits, corporations, foundations, recording artists, and political campaigns on web issues ranging from viral video and social networks to SEO and advertising. He resides in New York, New York, where he still performs as a professional musician with local artists.

Title: Interfaith Social Media:  Interfaith Leadership in the Digital World

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements

PC-based attendees:

Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This webinar will be recorded and will be available on our website after the event.

Click here to see more webinars and recordings of previous webinars


KidSpirit: Where Youth and the Spirit of Pluralism Converge

KidSpiritby Elizabeth Dabney Hochman

Take a moment to look back on your youth. Do you remember being 12 or 14? That awkward age on the cusp of adulthood, when you were neither a child nor yet an adult, but alternately identifying with both? Imagine your deepest held values and beliefs at that age; your fledgling sense of self and vulnerability. Did you have opportunities to share what mattered to you? To listen to voices different from your own and marvel at their unique worth and beauty? Flash forward a few years to your late teens and early twenties. How do you recall that sense of self now? Stronger? More settled? Perhaps a bit less open-minded than before?

We know that traits we develop as children become the basis of the adults we will become. If a child develops empathy, for example, early in life, we know they are more likely to be empathic later on. Conversely, what happens with negative traits? What about intolerance or its cousins, aggression and fear?

As supporters of interfaith work, we know that building greater understanding and dialogue among diverse groups is a crucial aspect in creating a more peaceful world. We know listening to each other and educating ourselves about our neighbors is central in our interdependent world. Although there are myriad ways for adults to enhance their inner development and pluralistic understanding, there are surprisingly few outlets for youth to develop these same skills, and fewer options still for young teens. How can we hope for a world with greater compassion and understanding without nurturing these qualities in youth?

KidSpirit, an organization I founded in 2007, is an online magazine and social networking community that empowers youth from all backgrounds and traditions to tackle life’s big questions in a spirit of openness. The magazine is a nonprofit, ad-free quarterly, written and edited by youth. It embodies a vibrant dialogue between an all-youth Editorial Board based in New York, and kids ages 11-16 around the world who send us their poetry, original essays and artwork for our quarterly themes. All youth, regardless of background or location can participate fully in this forum free.

Our complimentary group guides for teachers and mentors working with youth augment any curricula from religious education to creative writing and are available for download.

My hope in founding KidSpirit was to create a non-commercial platform for youth to share their beliefs, values and creativity and to support their development into becoming world citizens with strong inner grounding. Over the last five years, KidSpirit’s issues have had themes ranging from conflict-resolution and peacemakers and mourning rituals around the world, to moments of transcendence, analysis of materialism in culture and reflections on creativity and meaning (you can see an archive of all of our issues online by clicking here). Our young contributors span many parts of the world and they shine as brilliant examples of the honesty, joy and poignant questioning that so often characterizes the shift from childhood to adulthood.

Our all youth Editorial Board has read essays, poetry, journalistic articles and reviewed original artwork from kids from India and Great Britain to Ukraine and the United States, all based on open exchange on probing topics they choose. The cultural and religious dialogue has taken our editors and readers in unexpected directions that would have been almost unthinkable a generation ago.

In one recent meeting, we were fortunate to have a visit from a new young contributor from Afghanistan. This girl, just 15 years old, was in New York to give a speech about the extraordinary circumstances of her life, and was able to share in the editorial process. Nilab sat on the floor with a dozen or so teen editors, each scribbling on their own copy of an article in the process of being edited for publication. After a period of intense concentration, conversation erupted about the piece in question. The dialogue was vibrant but open and constructive, and as usual, the meeting concluded with cookies. Nilab’s fascination with the proceedings was palpable and she contributed much to our afternoon. It was incredible to witness her joy at the experience and the deep respect that her American peers felt for her.

Another ongoing relationship has come from a writer named Prerna who found KidSpirit from a web search while in her home city of Kolkata, India. Over the years, she has shared her views on Gandhi, written about the festival of Diwali and crafted a piece about meaning in life. Each of her submissions has been through a vibrant and interactive process with the editorial board, resulting in growth on all sides.

In many ways, KidSpirit is a reflection of our increasingly pluralistic world. It welcomes kids who identify themselves as belonging to a church, temple, or synagogue, as well as those who don’t. But most importantly, it offers an oasis for youth to pause while in the maelstrom of adolescence and to connect with each other respectfully on questions of meaning. To observe and facilitate that process is to be filled with wonder.


Elizabeth Dabney Hochman is the Founding Editor of KidSpirit Online and KidSpiritMagazine, a nonprofit web community and magazine that empowers teens to explore life’s big questions in a spirit of openness. A graduate of Princeton University, with a Masters in Music from the Mannes College of Music in New York City, she has over fifteen years’ experience as an opera singer. She and her husband live with their two daughters in Brooklyn, New York.

YouTube and the Language of Dialogue

by Stephen Pihlaja

If you’ve ever read comments that viewers post on YouTube videos, you know that the Internet can be a rough place for dialogue. Although online interaction between users of different backgrounds presents a unique opportunity for developing mutual understanding and empathy, it is unfortunately often marked by offence and misunderstanding. YouTube videos and comments in particular have a bad reputation for being incendiary and ugly, with users frequently forgetting that there is a face on the other side of the screen. Slurs and insults quickly consume the opportunity for dialogue, with little chance for mutual understanding.

To take an especially challenging example, in 2010, violent responses to and censorship of images of the prophet Muhammad in television and political cartoons spurred an online movement on Facebook and YouTube called ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’ wherein users protested censorship of the images. These online protests had a global impact, leading Pakistan and Bangladesh to briefly ban Facebook and sparked important discussions about free speech, respect for other traditions, and religious expression in online environments.

Over the next two years, I hope to carefully investigate the language used in antagonistic interaction on YouTube during Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. I will build on previous research showing that metaphor played an important role in contributing to negative evaluations and offensive interactions between atheist and Christians users on YouTube. By analysing how language is used in videos made for and in response to ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day 2010,’ I hope to reveal the nuts and bolts of antagonism embedded in language, showing how language use contributed to perceptions of offence and misunderstanding between users.

I believe strongly that identifying moments of antagonism in language use could serve as an important resource for scholars and religious practitioners, particularly those struggling to resolve conflict around religious expression and free speech. Rather than discuss disagreements between users primarily in terms of large-scale differences in cultural or religious beliefs, I believe that starting from a small-scale perspective and looking closely at actual moments of disagreement and antagonism in interaction helps make abstract disagreements much clearer, and therefore, potentially easier to solve.

Instead of first talking about long histories of offense, I think there is value in focusing on single moments in interaction and identifying clearly in the language where misunderstanding is occurring. Once we can identify these moments where people are clearly misunderstanding one another, I think we can begin to talk about how antagonism can be diffused. Ultimately, we may be able to develop tools for positive, constructive interaction through more effective communication.

In the spirit of meaningful online dialogue, if this research sounds like it might be useful to you in your work or ministry, I would love to hear from you. Send me a message at with the subject line ‘Potential Impact’. Any and all thoughts would be welcome. Let the dialogue begin!

Stephen Pihlaja is a PhD Student a the Open University, UK

PeaceWeek – Global Online Telesummit

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is proud to be a co-sponsor of PeaceWeek 2011, a global telesummit featuring dozens of inspiring peacebuilders.

This free online event, coming up September 15-21, is the largest virtual peace summit ever created—last year more than 20,000 people registered from 152 countries. This year’s leaders will offer profound insights for you to create peace in your life, your family, your community and our world. You’ll also gain access to the full library of recordings from last year’s summit.

We invite you to take advantage of dozens of galvanizing and action-oriented sessions—all of which are recorded and freely available. When you sign up, you’ll hear about groundbreaking global work from Israel and India to China and many places in between.

Sign up for free here

Join us and thousands of others from around the world—all of whom care deeply about the future of our planet and the potential for humanity to make a profound shift from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.


Presenters Include:

Alice Walker · Deepak Chopra · Marianne Williamson · Arun Gandhi Michael Bernard Beckwith · Daniel Goleman · Jane Velez-Mitchell · James O’Dea · Barbara Marx Hubbard · Avon Mattison · Kimmie Weeks · Grandmother Mona Polacca · Grandmother Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dance · David Korten · Aqeela Sherrills · Dot Maver · Stephen Dinan · Derrick Ashong · Steve Killelea · Sister Jenna · Dena Merriam · Rob Fersh · Rita Marie Johnson · Paul Chappell · Brother Anilananda · Kevin Quigley · Devaa Haley Mitchell · Andy Barker · Jenn Lim · Captain Richard O’Neill · Michael Furdyk · Pooran Pandey · Chip Hauss · Hiu Ng · Miki Kashtan · Rev. Bob Chase · Nurah Amat’ullah · Rabbi Justus Baird · Mary Stata · Sahar Nafal Kordahi · Tzvia Shelef · Orland Bishop · Guy Burgess · Heidi Burgess · Dr. Rick Levy · Julia Bacha · Nick Stuart · David Nicol · Belvie Rooks · Matthew Albracht · Emily Hine · Philip Hellmich


Faith-Based Peacebuilding: Applying a gender perspective

Join New Tactics and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Women Peacemakers Program (IFOR/WPP) for an online dialogue on the topic of “Faith-based peacebuilding: The need for a gender perspective”, from October 19 to October 25, 2011.

The role of religion in conflict and peacebuilding, the rise of religious fundamentalism, and the threat this poses for women’s human rights are issues receiving increasing attention. IFOR/WPP and its partners have been exploring the link between gender, religion and (inter)faith-based peacebuilding, including the positive role religion can play in promoting peacebuilding, and human and women’s rights.

What are some of the major obstacles in relation to gender equality posed by religion? How are women’s rights specifically affected in this regard? Which strategies are used by women activists to overcome those obstacles (best practices)?  Which positive dimensions do religion and spirituality bring to women’s lives? What specific obstacles and advances in terms of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Resolutions can be found in faith-based peacebuilding contexts and initiatives?

This dialogue is an opportunity for those involved in faith-based and interfaith-based peacebuilding and gender work, as well as those interested in it, to discuss these questions and share experiences.

Click here for more information

Dilatato Corde, An Expanded Heart: A New Online Journal of Interreligious Spirituality

Trustee CornerBy Leo Lefebure
CPWR Trustee

Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIM/MID) recently launched a new online journal dedicated to exploring interreligious dialogue concerning spirituality and religious experience. The multi-language journal provides a forum for interreligious exchanges concerning prayer and contemplation, spiritual experience, and the spirituality of interreligious dialogue, including contemporary personal testimonies as well as academic and historical studies. The new journal takes its name from a phrase in the prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which invites readers to follow the path of God’s commandments “with an expanded heart.”

Dilatato Corde, as the journal is known, appears twice a year free of charge at In the Foreword of the second issue, dated July 1, 2011, editor-in-chief Pierre-Francois de Bethune, OSB, considers the significance of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, convoked by Pope John Paul II at Assisi in 1986 and also of the upcoming gathering in Assisi next October. De Bethune recalls a comment made to him in 1986 by a Zoroastrian participant, Homi Dhalla: “From now on I will not be able to pray as before; I will always be in communion with all those who pray.”

A number of essays share personal experiences of transformation in dialogue. For example, a moving testimony from Lucy Brydon, OSB, describes the “enlarging of the heart” through her interreligious experiences of many decades, ranging from living with Muslims in Africa to a transformative encounter with Theravada Buddhists, to her current work in Buddhist-Christian retreats focusing on mindfulness. In another personal testimony, Mary John Marshall, OSB, shares the intersections of her Christian monastic journey with the path of her late natural sister, Maylie Scott, who was a Zen Buddhist priest; the essay includes a reflection that Maylie Scott wrote in 1998.

Some authors consider the meaning of another religion’s perspectives for their own practice. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Delegate to the League of Arab States, reflects on the significance for Christians of Muslim veneration of the Ninety-nine Most Beautiful Names of God. Fitzgerald notes texts from the Qur’an and the Bible that may be conducive to prayer, exploring both the Qur’anic context of the Beautiful Names of God and analogies in the Hebrew Bible, and then offering a Christian reflection in light of the New Testament. Richard Zeikowitz ponders the significance of the teachings of the Rule of Saint Benedict in light of his personal experiences of Tibetan Buddhist and Christian monasticism.

DIM/MID is an international organization of Catholic monastics involved in dialogue with the spiritual and monastic traditions of the world’s religions. For more than half a century, Catholic monastics have been pioneering and developing new forms of spiritual encounter and interreligious dialogue with monastics and practitioners of other religious traditions. In North America, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID) coordinates the work of these monastic communities in relation to other traditions; Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique carries on this work in Europe and beyond. Since 1994, these and other comparable monastic initiatives around the world are united under the leadership of the General Secretariat, which was established by the Abbot Primate of the Benedictines in consultation and cooperation with the Abbot General of the Cistercians. William Skudlarek, O.S.B., a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, serves as the General Secretary of DIM/MID and is associate editor of Dilatato Corde.

Online Interfaith Media: Odyssey Networks’ Journey

Odyssey Networks: Call on Faithby Rev. Eric C. Shafer
Odyssey Networks

It was 1987 and America was riveted by the “televangelist” scandals—celebrity TV ministries collecting millions of dollars in donations that ended up supporting their own lavish lifestyles. In response, the leaders of the cable industry met with major US faith leaders, all determined to restore the integrity of faith on television. Together they founded the National Interfaith Cable Coalition (NICC) and underwrote what would become its Odyssey Channel, giving the new interfaith offering carriage on cable systems throughout the United States.

Fast forward to 2011: Today the media is not plagued by scandal but fueled by it. “Controversy sells.” In religion this means an emphasis on conflict rather than cohesion, strife rather than working together.

We saw this most clearly last year in the controversy surrounding a Muslim-sponsored community center in Lower Manhattan. Its construction was welcomed by the community and media until a set of bloggers and interest groups latched onto the story and made it appear controversial, bringing with it all sorts of attention — mostly negative — from the national media. Odyssey addressed this controversy and the people of faith who favored this community addition in a video covering an interfaith rally held on September 12th in support of the center.

This is but one example of how Odyssey Networks has found a new niche as America’s largest multi-faith coalition, with nearly 100 member faith groups, faith related organizations and individuals. We tell the stories of people of faith working together for the common good, promoting understanding among people of different faith traditions or even no faith tradition.

Other stories we have told recently include faith perspectives to on the death of Osama bin Laden, World Interfaith Harmony Week, the unprecedented Peter King hearings on American Muslims, the move to divide the Sudan into north and south, Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s visit to quake-devastated Haiti, and the “Politics of Hunger.”

Unsurprisingly in this era of “viral media,” these reports all first appeared on Odyssey Networks but then traveled around the Internet to sites like CNN online, Democracy Now, and the Huffington Post.

Yet not all of our work is “viral.” We recently sponsored an in-person national gathering to foster conversation around the topic of 9/11, the Conversation We Never Had. And although no longer a cable television channel, cable television remains a vital platform for Odyssey. On July 28, the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will air Odyssey’s Serving Life, the story of a unique convict-staffed hospice program in at Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana. In April Odyssey’s production of The Shunning, based on Beverly Lewis’ best-selling novel, debuted on the Hallmark Channel earning top ratings and critical acclaim.

And now, instead of a cable television channel, we have a growing “channel” for the fast-growing mobile telephone platform: our Call on Faith smartphone application. Odyssey has also increased its presence of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and plans to begin a channel on Roku, one of the new “over the top” Internet television providers, in 2012.

We like to call these efforts “Odyssey Everywhere,” meaning that to tell the stories of people of faith working for positive change in the world in 2011 we must use all of the so-called media “platforms” available to us and use them well.

Our world has become increasingly multi-media. Odyssey Networks is working to spearhead innovation, especially technological innovation, within the multi-faith movement. As people of faith with the important overall message of God’s love for the world to share, we must use all of the new technological advances to help us share this story.

June 2nd, 2011 at 6:33 am

Summer Online Course: God Beyond Borders: Building Inter-religious Community

From the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue

Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, member of the JIRD Board of Scholars and Practitioners, offers opportunity for inter-religious study this summer:

What potential is there for inter-religious connections in your community?

The United States is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, and yet many individuals and congregations struggle with establishing authentic relationships with people of other religious traditions.

This course offers an opportunity to reflect on the potential for interreligious community in their own religious lives and relationships, and in their own communities, as well as to gather some practical skills and resources for this task.

A foundational conviction is that interreligious dialogue not only deepens the understanding and respect we have for other religious traditions, it can profoundly impact our understanding and experience of our own.

June 6 – July 22

Registration deadline: May 30. Cost $225; $175
for groups of 3 or more. 2 Continuing Education
Units available. Register here.