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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

Christian College Student’s Idea Leads to Rally for Burned Mosque

by Josh Levs
from CNN

When 20-year-old Ashley Carter heard about a mosque burned to the ground in her town this week, she was shocked.

“I was very saddened,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “I thought it was very evil.”

So Carter, a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, texted a friend, suggesting they organize an event “promoting acts of love.”

But quickly, the idea changed: They would organize a “rally of people coming together, from all walks of life, all religions, a really diverse group of people trying to promote this radical love.”

She called Kimberly Kester, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Joplin, whose worship house serving about 50 families in the southwest Missouri city burned down Monday. Investigators have not determined the cause, but the mosque has been attacked in the past.

Kester supported the idea. So Carter and some of her friends created the plan for the rally and announced it on a Facebook page. The next day, Tuesday, word began to spread. By Wednesday morning, more than 400 people had posted that they would attend the event, scheduled for Saturday, August 25.

Carter said she was inspired by “my love for Jesus. And I know that Jesus calls us to love people.”

Click here to read the full article

August 13th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Students Walk to Protect Native Sacred Places In Midwestern United States

Students from Haskell Indian Nations University are embarking on 1,000 plus mile trip to bring awareness to the protection of Native American sacred places and present a copy of the Protection of Native American Sacred Places Act to Congress.

by Dana Attocknie
from the Native American Times

A dozen students from Haskell Indian Nations University are walking to the save the Wakarusa Wetlands, the only remaining native wetland prairie in Lawrence, Kan., from being destroyed in order to become the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT). Their walk through seven states is named the Trail of Broken Promises, and their first steps were taken on May 13, 2012 from Lawrence, Kan. Their journey will go through 50 communities, cover 1,100 to 1,300 miles, and end July 9 in Washington, D.C. where the students will present the Protection of Native American Sacred Places Act to Congress. The bill amends the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, “to ensure that federal laws protecting the free exercise of religion include protection of traditional Native American Sacred Places where ceremonies, commemorations, observances or worship are conducted or occur, and to provide a right of action to protect Native American Sacred Places.”

“This is a spiritual issue. We believe that Congress needs to address specific legislation to protect sacred places in an inclusive manner for all people whom those places affect … By walking the Trail of Broken Promises we call attention to the spiritual interconnectedness that we as human beings have with our environment and all elements within it,” Millicent Pepion, of the Navajo and Blackfeet Nations, said to United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya, on May 3 in Tulsa. “We declare that a mutual respect and dignity be given to Native American people in concerns that affect our home communities. We respectfully request that the U.S. government adhere to our cultural, social, medical, environmental, and spiritual interests that the Trail of Broken Promises members seek to protect.”

Pepion is active in the Wetlands Preservation Organization and the Indigenous and American Indian Studies Club at Haskell. Her quest to bring awareness to the wetlands is part of her Commitment to Action that was accepted into the Clinton Global Initiative University. In her commitment letter she quotes Dr. Daniel Wildcat, her advisor, as reminding her, “‘It is not our right to protect Mother Earth, it is our responsibility.’”

Click here to read the full article

Northern Irish Young ‘Friendly Across Religions’

More and more Northern Irish teenagers have friendships with people from a different religious background, a new report has found. Photo from Google News

from Google News and the UK Press Association

An increasing number of teenagers in Northern Ireland have friendships across the religious divide, a research study has said.

Only a minority of young people have no acquaintances from other religious or ethnic backgrounds, added the university Young Life and Times Survey (YLT).

Dr Paula Devine, from Queen’s University, said: “The YLT survey found that friendship patterns among 16-year-olds are wider than ever before, encompassing both religious and ethnic diversity.”

They found 12% of young people never socialise with those from a different community and 16% do not associate with other ethnicities.

Dr Devine added: “The comments made by young people in the survey suggest a blurring of the traditional us and them categories. Whether someone is like us or them is not purely based on their religious or ethnic background but on other factors such as personality.”

Key findings in the report, No More Us And Them For 16-18-year-olds?, include that cross-community friendship was more common in 2011 than in 2003. In 2011, 22% of YLT respondents had no friends from the other main religious community, compared with 33% in 2003.

Click here to read the full article

My Neighbor’s Faith: Trouble Praying

Nancy Fuchs Kreimer is the Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she is Associate Professor of Religious Studies.

by Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer
from the Huffington Post

“I envy you Jews,” said the young German as he poured my morning coffee.

The year was 1980. I was the guest of a graduate student at Heidelberg University. My stay in his home was part of a month-long trip through Germany with Jews and Christians engaged in “post-Holocaust interfaith dialogue.”

My host’s statement surprised and bewildered me. I was just beginning my dissertation on the topic of anti-Judaism in Protestant “Old Testament” theology and I thought I knew a lot about the relationship between Jews and Christians. In fact, I was planning to devote my career to helping Christians see their complicity in the suffering of the Jews and to transcend the flaws in their theology. I could understand my host feeling sorry for us Jews. I could understand him apologizing to us. But I could not understand him envying us.

“Why in the world would you envy Jews?” I asked.

His reply changed my life.

“I envy you because it is easier for you to pray. You see, we young Germans carry the weight of what our parents and grandparents did — or did not do — during the war. It is hard for us to talk to God. We feel a little embarrassed.” Although the conversation took place 30 years ago, I can conjure it up in an instant: the earnestness in my fellow student’s voice, the clarity in his blue eyes.

I had thought, until then, that it was we Jews, the victims, who had trouble praying! There was something about the way he said it — perhaps the phrase “a little embarrassed” — that made it feel completely genuine. This conversation clarified for me my core belief, a very useful thing to discover at the age of 27. After that morning, I possessed an orienting idea, a place to check in regularly to see if my plans were aligned with what I believed.

I believe that we should live our lives so that our children won’t be “a little embarrassed” if they want to pray. Until that morning, I thought that meant being a good daughter, a compassionate friend and a dutiful citizen. But now I saw something new: taking responsibility for the group from which I derive my identity, the group whose actions will lead my children to be proud or embarrassed before God. For me, that group was and is the Jewish people.

The immediate result of this revelation was that I changed my dissertation topic. Rather than looking at problematic Christian texts, I would study problematic Jewish writings. I would investigate the ways in which my own tradition misunderstands others rather than point a finger at the others for misunderstanding us.

Click here to read the full article

Schoolchildren Speak with Scotland’s Top Religious Leaders

STV hosts student question time event with Scotland's top religious leaders.

from  STV.TV

School pupils have been given the opportunity to ask some tough questions of Scotland’s top religious leaders at an inter-faith event.

The event, hosted by STV at its Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow, was attended by representatives from the country’s leading faith groups, including Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders.

Scottish Inter-faith council organised the event, hosted by STV’s news anchor John MacKay, to give schoolchildren the chance to talk directly to religious leaders through a virtual video link.

Pupils from Holyrood Secondary School were also invited into the studios to sit around the table with the leaders to ask them their questions.

Click here to read the full article

Catholic Couple Embark on Interfaith “Pilgrimage,” Circle World on Religious Tolerance Quest

by Gillian Flaccus
from the Huffington Post

CLAREMONT, Calif. — Frederic and Anne-Laure Pascal are devout Roman Catholics who built their lives around their religion. When she lost her job last year, the young couple decided on an unlikely expression of their religious commitment: a worldwide “interfaith pilgrimage” to places where peace has won out over dueling dogmas.

Since October, the French couple has visited 11 nations from Iraq to Malaysia in an odyssey to find people of all creeds who have dedicated their lives to overcoming religious intolerance in some of the world’s most divided and war-torn corners.

The husband-and-wife team blogs about their adventures – and their own soul-searching – and takes short video clips for the project they’ve dubbed the Faithbook Tour.

Click here to read the full article

Christians and Buddhists: Increasing Dialogue Through Education

from The Catholic Spirit

Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. The message is signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council.

Vesakh is the main Buddhist feast and commemorates the three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May. Thus Vesakh is a mobile feast which this year falls on 5 and 6 May, while in China it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese calendar, which this year corresponds to 28 April. On those days, Buddhists decorate their houses with flowers and perfume them with incense, visit local temples and listen to the teaching of the monks.

This year’s message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Sharing Responsibility for Educating the Young Generation on Justice and Peace through Inter-religious Dialogue:” Extracts from the English-language version of the text are given below.

Click here to read the full article

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: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/567335422

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

 

‘I Heart Turbans’: Sikh Student’s Apparel Designs Spark Interfaith Dialogue

by Arezou Rezvani
from the Times of India

If the spheres of fashion and religion seem disparate and distant, it is 22-year-old Jagmeet Sethi’s Connecticut-based apparel company TurbanInc that has brought the two seemingly distinct worlds together.

“The power of fashion is universal and when we dress ourselves, we often think, ‘What am I saying to the world when they look at me today?’” said Sethi. “With that in mind, we wanted to combine one of our most routine methods of expression with confidence, self-love and pride in being Sikh.”

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Sethi, who was among the 500,000 Sikhs then living in the United States, was consistently the mistaken target of discrimination stemming from the lack of knowledge and ensuing confusion of Sikhs with Muslims or Arabs. That confusion is what ultimately led to the death of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh who was the first person believed to have been murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. More than a decade later, in December, another bloody assault on a 56-year-old Sikh preacher in Fresno confirmed that the group remains a mistaken target of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.

“Kids who were once best friends of mine all of a sudden stopped talking to me right after the attacks took place,” said Sethi. “There was a period of time where I was getting into physical fights with classmates of mine almost every week.”

Although much of the prejudice settled when Sethi’s family moved to Connecticut in 2004, his outward display of faith, first through the topknot in middle school and then the full size turban later in high school drew judgment well through college, where during his senior year Sethi wore an “I Heart Turbans” T-shirt that his then budding company had designed. Created to invite classmates to engage with his appearance, Sethi spent much of that day explaining his religious background, practices and rituals to friends, professors and hallway strangers.

Click here to read the full article