Archive for the ‘paul knitter’ tag
by Patrick O’Neill from National Catholic Reporter
After their interfaith panel discussion Saturday afternoon, Rabbi Or Rose and Muslim chaplain Abdullah Antepli walked side-by-side talking quietly. It was quite a site in the South — long known as the “Bible Belt.” The pair, Rose wearing a yarmulke, had just spent an hour together in a tent with former Catholic priest and scholar Paul Knitter discussing interreligious dialogue, and what it is they admire — even love — about each other’s faith traditions.
So it went on Day 3 of The Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills Farm, a rural section of Chatham County, not far from the bigger places — Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. While Wild Goose is predominantly Christian, ecumenism and interfaith dialogue have been major themes of the four-day festival that may be the first of its kind in the U.S.
Wild Goose founder Gareth Higgins wants the festival to bring together people of faith to celebrate their diversity and their love of God in a non-judgmental setting. What’s clear about “the vibe” of Wild Goose (vibe is a term Higgins uses) is that there appears to be a sincere search by festival-goers not so much for truth, but for pluralism based on the basic foundational principle of all the world’s major religions — love.
Despite the 90-plus degree heat, Wild Goosers do a lot of smiling and a lot of sharing. Groups of young seekers can be overheard engaged in deep conversations about heavy religious topics — liturgy, fundamentalism, gay marriage and prayer to name a few. With as many as five speakers on tap at different sites in any given hour (beginning at 9 a.m. and going past midnight), the fodder for listening and good conversation is omnipresent….
by Jenn Lindsay
from State of Formation
I spent a lot of time at the Gyuto Monks’ mandala at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. The mandala is the traditional Tibetan Buddhist form of sandpainting, practiced by Native Americans in the Southwestern United States, by Indians, by Australian Aborigines, and by Latin Americans on certain Christian holy days. In modern day Mexico and the United States, sandpainting is most often practiced during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Streets are decorated with sand paintings that are later swept away, symbolizing the fleeting nature of life.
At the opening plenary service for the Parliament of the World’s Religions the audience watched a sandpainter’s hands on a screen as he created fleeting symbols for each tradition, like the Hindu OM, the branches of a Jewish menorah, a Buddhist friendship knot, a Shinto yin-yang, and natural images celebrating the Australian Aboriginal population.
Six Union Theological Seminary students traveled to the Parliament with Dr. Paul Knitter and we were exposed to a wealth of religious practices and new concepts. I spent day after day sitting with the Gyuto Monks and their mandala as it grew by their painstaking efforts. I found the mandala to be an apt representation of the anatta concept. In Buddhism, the purpose of a mandala is to attain enlightenment and to attain a correct view of reality.
For Buddhists, cessation of delusion is enlightenment. Thus, a correct view of reality is a cessation of the illusion that everything, including the self, is fixed or permanent. Everything is always changing, and if we grasp at experience to keep it permanent we will suffer. Thus, cultivation of detachment and of mindfulness can help lessen grasping and lessen an obsessive fixation on a concretely defined end goal. Detachment and mindfulness can help us lessen attachment to the fruits of our labors, instead helping us to concentrate on the experience of living itself. The focus is on the process rather than the goal.
The Pluralism Project at Harvard University has released a video as part of its “Educating Religious Leaders for a Multi-Religious World” initiative. The video focuses on the 2009 Parliament in Melbourne and the Council’s partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation. This partnership allowed for students and faculty of 15 theological institutions in the U.S. to participate at the Melbourne Parliament. While there, they expressed their findings as well as questions they encountered as members of a broader experience leading up to the events in Melbourne, which included coursework at their respective universities centered upon this theme of preparing religious leaders in a multi-religious world.
Click here to be taken to The Pluralism Project’s site.
by Jenn Lindsay in Union Now
The opening convocation of the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia was a colorful invocation of religions tradition. The ceremony was blessed twelve times over, by Sikhs and Shintos and Muslims and a Catholic archbishop and a rabbi and the Zoroastrians and a group of Hindu children playing sitars and tabla drums.
I was especially attuned to the Sikhs, as I had spent the 16-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney sitting in row 37 with a Sikh from Delhi named Kuldip, who lives today in Atlanta and works for General Electric. When the flight attendant brought our airplane lasagna, we said a Sikh blessing over our food: Waheguru! It means to praise life, all life, the bad and the hard, because it all comes from God. I noticed that my friend’s fingernails were neatly trimmed and asked why he is allowed to trim them but not allowed to cut his long hair, considered a limb and a gift of God, woven under the signature Sikh turban. He didn’t know, and we both giggled.
During the flight, I leanred of the Sikh prophet, Guru Nanak, who strikes me as similar to Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, who all respectively rose up against a tyrannical system and proposed a way devoid of robotic, constricting, fear-inducing identities.
Christian theologian Paul Knitter talks about the urgent need for inter-religious dialogue, and the increasingly common experience of dual religious belonging where believers follow more than one religious path. The interview was commissioned by Eureka Street, and sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Centre for Inter-Religious Dialogue in the Australian Catholic University.
In 1893, the Chicago Parliament of World Religions was convened to gather the world’s faiths together for the first time. The organizers had a subversive message they kept hidden from invited speakers from non-Christian traditions: Christianity is the one true faith. They assumed that if all the faiths had a chance to speak publicly to the world, it would be obvious that Christianity was superior. But things didn’t go as planned. As it turned out, the Hindu representative Swami Vivikananda from India stole the show, convincing everyone that Hinduism was as valid a way to worship and experience the divine as any other. The state of the world’s religions was changed forever and the interfaith era had its symbolic beginning.
Over 100 years later, things have certainly changed.
This partnership between Spiritual Resources and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio has brought a series of interviews with world-class speakers from the 2009 Parliament, Melbourne. Hosted by Bettina Gray, these interviews provide an in depth look at the substance of the conversations that took place at the Parliament.
Speakers include Swami Chidananda Saraswati, Dr Paul Knitter, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Dr. Allison Stokes, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukari, Sr. Joan Chittister, Ralph Singh, Sarah Talcott, and Dr. William Lesher.
Reuters has just published a blog telling the story of the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Unlike many of the overviews that have appeared in the last week, this one was written by Parliament speakers. Paul Knitter is the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary and Matthew Weiner is program director at the Interfaith Center of New York.
The writers’ participation in the event has enhanced their reportage; this is a warm and conversational introduction that starts with an account of the original 1893 event ripe with the infectiousness of conversation. It looks forward to the influence and breadth of today’s Parliament.
To read the full blog, click here.