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State of Formation: Call for Nominations!

State of Formation is calling all nominations! Photo from SoF

Greetings,

State of Formation is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for Contributing Scholars!

State of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past two years, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country and the world have engaged each other and readers by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social backgrounds.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Interfaith Youth Core, Pluralism Project, Interfaith Observer, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. (On rare occasions, exceptions will be made to these guidelines in order to increase the diversity of the writers.)  Contributors should be able to commit to post monthly on the forum while showing respect others from different traditions.

Does this describe you or an emerging leader you know? Please take a moment to fill out our brief nomination form. Nominations for the fall are due September 30, 2012 and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Sincerely,
Honna Eichler, Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

September 6th, 2012 at 10:55 am

Fall 2012 Call for Contributing Scholars on State of Formation

from State of Formation

Greetings,

State of Formation is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for Contributing Scholars!

State of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past two years, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country and the world have engaged each other and readers by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social backgrounds.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Interfaith Youth Core, Pluralism Project, Interfaith Observer, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. (On rare occasions, exceptions will be made to these guidelines in order to increase the diversity of the writers.)  Contributors should be able to commit to post monthly on the forum while showing respect others from different traditions.

Does this describe you or an emerging leader you know? Please take a moment to fill out our brief nomination form. Nominations for the fall are due September 30, 2012 and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Sincerely,
Honna Eichler, Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

Click here to go to the State of Formation website

 

As A Sikh-American I Refuse To Live In Fear And Negativity

Photography credit to State of Formation

Simran Jeet Singh

by Simran Jeet Singh
from State of Formation

As a Sikh-American, I am absolutely heart-broken.

As soon as news broke about the massacre in Wisconsin, my parents called me to make sure I was safe. Our conversation was eerily similar to the moments immediately after 9/11.

After making sure I was safe, they asked me to be careful walking around the streets of New York City. They pointed out that: “You never know what someone might do.”

While I accepted their advice, their words crushed me.

As a Sikh, I believe that people are inherently good. Our faith instills a sense of perpetual optimism, and our traditions teach us to always make the best of a tough situation.

Fear and negativity are foreign to our vocabulary. Sikhs are not a God-fearing people; we are God-loving.

The commitment to love and optimism shapes the way that Sikhs interact with their societies, and I’m concerned that becoming cynical and negative might lead us down a slippery slope.

So I am making a conscious decision. I am refusing to accept that human beings are malicious and hateful, and I am rejecting the notion that we need to live in fear.

Click here to read full article

Including Ourselves: A Lesson from an Elevator-Ride

Photo Credit to State of Formation by Simran Jeet Singh
from State of Formation

It’s not uncommon for kids to ask their parents about “that thing” on my head.

In most instances, the parents look at me uncomfortably, embarrassed that I might be offended in some way. I’ll usually acknowledge their discomfort with an awkward smile before looking away and pretending not to notice as they try to discretely shush their kids.

But recently I had the most amazing experience. I walked into the elevator of my apartment building in Manhattan and — despite knowing New York etiquette — I couldn’t help but smile at the two little girls standing with their young mother. The girls were wearing matching, polka-dotted raincoats, and they were fully focused on not dropping their popsicles.

The older of the two girls must have sensed me enter the elevator, because she slowly shifted her neck to look up at me and gawked for a few seconds. She then turned to her mom and unabashedly shouted: “Hey Mom! What’s that thing on his head?!”

The young mother made eye contact with me and quickly checked to see if I was planning to respond. I flashed my standard awkward smile, and she returned an awkward smile of her own before totally catching me by surprise.

“That’s a turban.”

“Why does he wear it?”

“It’s part of his religion. Do you remember the boy in your class who wore a turban?”

“Yeah, he doesn’t cut his hair. He has really long hair. ”

I was shocked. I wanted to give everyone in the elevator a high-five, but remembering I was in New York, I tried to play it cool. I put on my Denzel Washington face (the coolest person I could think of on the spot), and as I walked out of the elevator, I turned to the mother and whispered a soft “thank you.”

Click here to read full article

Making Room for People With Disabilities

Photo Credit to Creative Commons by Patrick Brown
from State of Formation

Each person was different and each brought with them their own challenges and gifts. Some of them had significant language challenges and behavior problems that were hard to navigate. Some were capable of a relatively normal life with a job, social life, and real community. The major aspect of the person center planning process is dreaming. This is what seemed to be the most difficult part of the institutional environment. As much as these people were cared for and even happy to some extent, they had very few dreams for themselves and the only people in their lives were paid to be there and so no one had aspirations for these people beyond the most basic care. My mom and I had to stretch ourselves to think of dreams for these people we didn’t even know. These individuals had been cut off from their families and natural relationships and put into a clinical environment that lacked the kind of creativity, which can only come from genuine relationships.

The experience has made me reflect on how important community is to human dignity and fulfillment. One of the most attractive aspects of organized religions is their capacity for community. When talking to these individuals about what they want out of life, participation is a faith community was a common desire. I’ve known many people with disabilities who have found strength and acceptance in their faith communities. My sister reads the bible more than anyone else I know. She always asks me about different characters and stories that shes been reading and I don’t always know the passages she is referring to. She is someone that takes her faith seriously and yet our home parish has no program to support her and so she attends a bible study at another church. Christian congregations generally don’t have a good grasp on how to incorporate people with disabilities. The bible study that my sister goes to is a special group, only for people with developmental delays and cognitive disabilities. There are a lot of programs out there with similar models. The problem is that they simply create a separate but equal kind of system where people with disabilities have to participate in a parallel congregation. I haven’t seen any programs that have really incorporated people with disabilities in to the main parish programming.

Click here to read full article

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.

CPWR Fellow Joshua Stanton Is Top Nominee for Coexist Prize

“One of the most dynamic new leaders in the interfaith field,” Joshua Stanton, CPWR’s Religious Leadership Fellow, has been nominated for the 2012 Coexist Prize, a prestigious award given by the Coexist Foundation.  The foundation cited Stanton’s groundbreaking work in harnessing new media for interreligious dialogue, specifically highlighting State of Formation.

 

 

2012 Call for Contributors–State of Formation

from State of Formation

Greetings,

We are excited to announce that we will be officially accepting nominations on a bi-annual basis and therefore are calling for nominations and self- nominations for Contributing Scholars for our online forum, State of Formation.

State of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past year, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country have engaged readers around the world by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social backgrounds.

Over the past six months, State of Formation staffs have worked to identify Regional Associations in Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Richmond, and Nashville. These groups strive to showcase the strong work happening within local communities across the country while fostering better relationships between emerging leaders. Through this process, we hope to provide resources for enhancing dialogues across the country in addition to creating a sense of community for State of Formation contributors.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Interfaith Youth Core, Pluralism Project, Interfaith Observer, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. (On rare occasions, exceptions will be made to these guidelines in order to increase the diversity of the writers.)  Emerging leaders from both within and outside of the regional groups are encouraged to apply.

Does this describe you or an emerging leader you know? Please take a moment to fill out our brief nomination form. Nominations for the spring are due March 15, 2012 and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Sincerely,

Honna Eichler, Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

Click here to visit State of Formation

 

Meaning Making: An Inter-generational Collaboration

by Honna Eichler
from State of Formation

While interfaith dialogue attempts to increase understanding between groups of people from different traditions, too often the work itself occurs in silos. Barriers exist between people of different ethnic and cultural traditions, generations, socioeconomic classes, gender, and education backgrounds between the most open minded conversation partners.

Part of the work of State of Formation is to deconstruct silos and dismantle barriers to foster conversation where it once was challenged to survive. Over the past few months, State of Formation (SoF) staff have been in conversation with those at The Interfaith Observer (TIO) to produce an inter-generational conversation around meaning making within different religious and ethical traditions. With a shared writing objective, fifteen contributors from both organizations wrote about Meaning Making from their own backgrounds.

The Interfaith Observer is an electronic journal created to explore interreligious relations and the interfaith movement.  View supporting documents from The Interfaith Observer on Meaning Making by clicking the highlighted text.

Click here to read the full article

New Journal by Students Seeks “Enactment of Deep Pluralism”

by Kile Jones
from State of Formation

A new journal is born!

“Religion” is one of the most difficult words to define.  People use the word all of the time but have a hard time flushing out its precise meaning.  Having spent time on issues surrounding defining “religion,” I felt it would be a good idea to start a new journal where “religion” can be analyzed, interpreted, and compared with other phenomena.  I figured it would be an accessible, academic, online forum for people to publish on issues surrounding “religion.”  Much likeState of FormationClaremont Journal of Religion is meant to facilitate academic dialogue and encourage the enactment of deep pluralism.

Claremont Journal of Religion (CJR) is a student led, peer-reviewed, online journal that focuses on the ways “religion” can be understood in the contemporary world.  CJR is in relationship with the recently established Claremont Lincoln University,Claremont School of TheologyClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremont University Consortium, and The Society for Philosophy and Religion at Claremont (SPARC).  The goal of this journal is to provide a forum for emerging scholars, academics, graduate students, and lay-leaders to publish their latest work in the broad field of “religious studies.”

Click here to read the full article