The 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions is featured in the Spring feature of Parabola Magazine with special messages from members of the Parliament team. The article is written by Trebbe Johnson; a consulting editor to Parabola, author of The World is a Waiting Lover and Radical Joy for Hard Times, and an attendee of past four Parliament Convenings.
The world is in a state of bereavement. That was the fundamental premise that convinced Stephen Avino, then Acting Executive Director, now Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, that convening a 2021 session of the global interfaith community was imperative. Long months of pandemic, the certainty that we are all heading toward climate calamity, and in the United States months of political and social instability, have sunk billions of people around the world in loneliness, grief, and anxiety. The Parliament board agreed that they needed to address this crisis and scheduled an online gathering for October 16-18 with the theme “Opening our Hearts to the World: Compassion in Action.”
The eighth convening of leaders and followers of the world’s diverse spiritual traditions was a plea for cooperation, compassion, and spiritual activism. It was also a chorus of offerings of comfort and inspiration, reminders that, even in the midst of our most dire predicaments, we belong to something greater and more mysterious. Far from being remote from worldly challenges, an accusation sometimes leveled at religion, this Parliament reminded participants that religion, now more than ever before, must be essential to solving those challenges…
Instead of unfolding around topics of interest to particular groups, such as women’s issues, indigenous issues, or social justice, as at in-person gatherings this event followed what board of trustees member and 2021 program chair Phyllis Curott called “an emotional arc. We would begin where we all are, all over the world, which is grief. Then we would bring together sources of hope. How do religious faiths give us healing, solace, and resilience, so that in the midst of things that break our heart and break our spirit, we find ways to go forward? Having retrieved this optimism, how do we cope with the things that make us grieve? How do we take inspired action to make the world a better place? How do we bless each other? How does our wisdom tradition enable us to go into the future?”
Read the full feature today at Parabola.org
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