Parliament of the World's Religions E-Newsletter Archive 2013


For other Parliament Newsletter & Eblast archieve, please click here.

Date: 2013-12-30
Title: Eblast - Thank You For A Successful Year
Details: Our interfaith movement has tripled in the last ten years, not just in the comfort of our safe, local neighborhoods, but also in conflict zones. Just around Christmas, interfaith inspiration has led to:


Date: 2013-12-16
Title: Eblast - On the Council on Foreign Relations: Point-Counter-Point
Details: Student Religious Life at Johns Hopkins University emphasizes interfaith education and collaboration. 15-20 students, many of them representing one of the campus' active student religious groups, participate in a weekly forum, the Interfaith Council. The subject matter of these meetings varies. Students may go around and share a particular aspect of their tradition, such as prayer, coming of age, gender roles, holidays, or food customs, and sometimes the evening centers around an exercise or activity designed to help students develop greater religious literacy and sensitivity. The aims of this council are not only to encourage our students to get to know and work with one another on campus, but also to help cultivate tools for dialogue across difference - we want our students to learn to see the diversity and plurality of our world as a resource, and to know how to use it for the betterment of all. Quite often, our students remind us - the "adults" in the room who convene the meetings each week - that the work of interfaith is a constantly moving target, and that we are a far way off from having all the answers to its difficulties. Read more here.


Date: 2013-12-10
Title: Eblast - ILLINOIS EVENT: Candlelight Vigil for Sandy Hook at Sikh Religious Society
Details: The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions shares this invitation from the Sikh Religious Society with our local community to join in an interfaith vigil on the one year-anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Please follow details below for full event information. 


Date: 2013-12-09
Title: Eblast - In Case You Missed It
DetailsThe Parliament succeeds when strangers become neighbors, acquaintances become friends, and enemies choose to co-exist peacefully. Attending the Melbourne Parliament, Elisabeth caught the vision found in these words. She returned home to Austria, establishing an interfaith gathering place. Through these efforts, she discovered that many of the wives of local farmers were from a variety of countries and faith traditions, and that they were feeling like strangers in their own village.


Date: 2013-12-09
Title: Eblast - Call for Papers and Recent Posts
Details: Each day, in the siddur, the Jewish prayer book, I read a small prayer authored by the 3rd century Babylonian sage Rav. In a discussion of what Jews need to say when we confess, Rav writes the following: Atah yodea razei olam, v’ta’alumot sitrei kol chai. Atah chofes kol chad’rei beten, u’vochen k’layot va’lev. Ein davar ne’lam mimecha, v’ein nistar mineged eineicha. “You know the mysteries of the universe and the deepest secrets of everyone alive. You probe our innermost depths; You examine our thoughts and feelings. Nothing escapes You; nothing is secret from You.” This language is concerned with establishing only one thing - that God knows all.


Date: 2013-12-13
Title: Newsletter - Arun Gandhi Elected to the Parliament Board
Details: Through elections held November 15 by the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, author, scholar, and founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, Dr. Arun Manilal Gandhi, is now beginning a 3-year term as a Parliament trustee. A grandson of Mohatnas Gandhi, Arun brings an unassuming spirit and illuminating gumption to the Parliament in a partnership for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.


Date: 2013-12-03
Title: Eblast - Together we succeed
Details: The Parliament succeeds when strangers become neighbors, acquaintances become friends, and enemies choose to co-exist peacefully. Attending the Melbourne Parliament, Elisabeth caught the vision found in these words. She returned home to Austria, establishing an interfaith gathering place.Through these efforts, she discovered that many of the wives of local farmers were from a variety of countries and faith traditions, and that they were feeling like strangers in their own village.


Date: 2013-12-02
Title: Eblast - Job Postings and On Giving Thanks
Details: As we approach Thanksgiving in the US, it seems like a good time to revisit the idea of gratitude I wrote about during the most recent Ramadan. The relationship between “gratitude” and “thanks,” seems obvious. Although, as Joe points out in a comment on an earlier post, there is a difference. I think I hint at a way of understanding that difference when I say: Gratitude, gratefulness, is more than the simple “thank you.” We have relations that are more than transactional. We rely on each other for so many things, and when we do not express gratitude for the things that others do for us daily to allow us to be who we are, then we reduce their humanity and ours. We become our jobs. To be grateful is to say to someone else that “I need(ed) you.”


Date: 2013-11-25
Title: Eblast - Recap: State of Formation at the AAR/SBL Gathering
Details: Earlier today, at the annual meeting for AAR/SBL, current and prospective Contributing Scholars gathered to discuss the process of articulating their personal perspectives and set of beliefs online. Both Diana Eck and Paul Raushenbush came to both listen and discuss how emerging leaders can shape their voices in the public sphere. As Diana Eck said, "Scholarship should turn our hearts towards the world." This simple quote gets at the root of what we try to do at State of Formation.


Date: 2013-11-18
Title: Eblast - Current Articles and Workshop at AAR/SBL A Week Away
Details: We still have a few slots available for our workshop; Please RSVP to honna@irdialogue.org by November 22nd Held in conjunction with the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, State of Formation is pleased to announce it will host a workshop for current and emerging religious and ethical leaders. State of Formation is a project of CIRCLE at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College, is an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders.


Date: 2013-11-22
Title: Newsletter - Living Out the Vision for Our Future
Details: Human interconnectedness has been transformed dramatically by technology. However, our hearts and our minds are yet to be aligned with the God-given ideals of sharing more and consuming less to achieve better results for the humanity. In a world where more than a billion people live under two dollars a day; where 45 million people are fleeing conflict and persecution; where fear, hate, and anger are rising, we have a responsibility to be good neighbors, to be compassionate, and to live by the Golden Rule.


Date: 2013-11-11
Title: Eblast - CFR on Religion and Foreign Policy, RSVP for AAR Event, GreenFaith Fellow
Details: The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative connects religious and congregational leaders and scholars with timely, expert resources on U.S. foreign policy and provides a forum for this community to discuss a broad range of international issues. To learn more about the initiative and its offerings, which include a monthly conference call series, workshops, and briefings with CFR scholars, visit our dedicated web portal at www.cfr.org/religion. For an example of the work of the Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative, considering listening to this audio cast: Countering Violent Extremism. CFR Senior Fellow Ed Husain leads a conversation on why it is crucial to create a global fund to counter violent extremism, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.


Date: 2013-11-04
Title: Eblast - >RSVP for AAR Event, Susan Katz Miller on Interfaith Families
Details: Held in conjunction with the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, State of Formation is pleased to announce it will host a workshop for current and emerging religious and ethical leaders. State of Formation is a project of CIRCLE at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College, is an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders.


Date: 2013-10-29
Title: Eblast - Living Out The Vision Program Tickets Still Available
Details: The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions has been deeply pleased by the overwhelming response to our "Living Out The Vision" Anniversary Benefit. The robust purchase of tickets has led to a sell-out of the dinner portion of the evening. Tickets to the Program and Reception remain available at www.parliamentbenefit.eventbrite.com


Date: 2013-10-28
Title: Eblast - Articles from New Contributing Scholars
Details: Growing up in a secular home in the Southern Baptist atmosphere of Central Oklahoma, religion was not only absent from my daily life, it was something I was neither drawn to or knowledgeable about. This changed when I enrolled in a Comparative Religions course at the University of Oklahoma where I began to build a foundational understanding of the world's faith traditions. Religion, however, remained for me an abstraction – a topic about which I was deeply curious, but continued to perceive as distant and largely irrelevant to my own life.


Date: 2013-10-22
Title: Eblast - Outstanding Contributing Scholars Announced!
Details: On November 24th State of Formation will host a workshop for its Contributing Scholars and potential new scholars -- check the section below for more details. We are pleased to announce that we will also feature the stories and voices of the following three Outstanding Contributing Scholars: 


Date: 2913-10-31
Title: Newsletter - 1893 Women Pioneering Interfaith
Details: Rev. Allison Stokes, Ph.D. Ambassador for the Parliament of World Religions and Founding Director of the Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Finger Lakes plans to publish a book celebrating the prominent women's voices in the history of interfaith and the Parliament of the World's Religions. Stokes will share these stories at the Living Out The Vision program and dinner benefit of the 20th/120th anniversaries of the Parliament, November 16, in Chicago, IL. This article is an excerpt of this body of work, and the second installation of the Parliament Anniversary Series.


Date: 2014-10-14
Title: Eblast - Diana Eck, Paul Raushenbush to Present at State of Formation Workshop
Details: Held in conjunction with the annual meeting for the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, State of Formation is pleased to announce it will host a workshop for current and emerging religious and ethical leaders. State of Formation is a project of CIRCLE at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College, is an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. The workshop will feature Dr. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University and the Director of The Pluralism Project, and Rev. Paul Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. Also featured are Rabbi Or Rose, Dr. Jennifer Peace, and top Contributing Scholars from State of Formation. Helping lead the workshop are Stepanie Varnon-Hughes (Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal for Inter-Religious Dialogue) and Benjamin Barer (Editor at Large) and Honna Eichler (Managing Director) of State of Formation.


Date: 2013-10-14
Title: Eblast - Women Only: 1 Day Left to Win Scholarship to Alchemy!
Details: Alchemy will be an embodied experience of the kind of potent leadership that emerges when women connect to their deepest spiritual root, when they excavate through the layers of fear and numbness that stand between them and their sacred selves. This gathering will not have any keynote speakers or panels of experts at the front of the room; it will be a circular experience celebrating and harvesting the wisdom and leadership of every woman present.


Date: 2013-10-07
Title: Eblast - State of Formation Weekly - October 7th
Details: This brings us to the question at the heart of the matter for Noah’s generation as well as for our own: Are we just for ourselves, or are we part of a larger human and life community? A lot of things look broken to me right now. As I write this, the government shutdown has begun—our Congressional leaders unable to reach a compromise basic enough to keep the doors open. Along with hopes for basic government functioning, the Farm Bill also died at midnight on October 1. Most immediately, this means that safety net programs for dairy farmers, conservation programs for wetlands, disaster relief for livestock producers, a program to help low-income seniors access fresh foods, and international food aid programs are gone—poof!—until Congress is able to pass the Farm Bill or an extension. 


Date: 2013-10-08
Title: Eblast - Chicago Honors Vivekananda
Details: The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions is thrilled to welcome Chicago-area Vivekananda Vedanta Society's Swami Varadananda, one of three co-founding trustees of CPWR, to our Living Out The Vision anniversary program and benefit dinner on November 16 in Chicago. Varadananda will honor Vivekananda, the Hindu saint and historical luminary whose conviction about harmony among the world’s religions was first heard by the west at 1893 World's Parliament of Religions. Initially inspired by Vivekananda, the formation of the modern CPWR is credited to the dream of three monks of Vivekananda's order, the Vedanta society. Their decision to expand the 100-year commemoration of Swami Vivekananda's 1893 speech Hindu celebration to an interfaith Parliament mobilized several Chicago religious communities which would become the CPWR's Chicago champions. Theirs is a story we celebrate and the vision we pledge to live out. Join us...


Date: 2013-09-30
Title: Eblast - State of Formation Weekly - September 30th: Paul Raushenbush to speak at SoF workshop!
Details: Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: a close friend was hurt, and on his way to the hospital. But the news got worse, as I learned that my friend, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh American professor at Columbia University, had been brutally attacked on a public street, the victim of a violent hate crime. My brother and I immediately jumped in a taxi and rushed to the hospital, where we finally saw Prabhjot being wheeled in, bloody and bruised, his face swollen from a fractured jaw. He couldn't speak because many of his teeth had been displaced, but he waved limply to let us know that he was okay.


Date: 2013-09-25
Title: Eblast - Celebrate Vivekananda with the Parliament on Nov. 16th
Details: The first Parliament of the World’s Religions took place in 1893, and was addressed by Swami Vivekananda. The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (the Parliament) continues to honor this exemplary Hindu saint for his ideals of interfaith understanding and mutual respect, and will honor the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the 120th anniversary of the Parliament on November 16, 2013 in Chicago.  We, the Trustees of the Parliament, commit to working with and engaging in dialogue with all faith communities in keeping with the nature and mission of the Parliament which is: To cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.


Date: 2013-10-18
Title: Newsletter - Remembering Interfaith Father of Guadalajara
Details: The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions mourns the recent passing of Father Jorge Manzano, a dear friend and one of the leading lights of the interreligious movement in México. Padre Manzano was a professor of philosophy at the University of Guadalajara for over 40 years, where he specialized in the works of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Hegel and drew nothing but the highest praises from his students and colleagues. During the 1960s, Padre Manzano spent several years in Denmark, working with political prisoners and immigrant communities in Copenhagen, and later on championed the causes of indigenous peoples in his native Mexico.


Date: 2013-09-24
Title: Eblast - Parliament Webinar Invite: Growing Interfaith Community Through Exodus Conversations
Details: The Parliament of the World's Religions with co-sponsor Interfaith Center of New York invite all to advance interfaith savvy through a webinar featuring the Convener and Abrahamic panelists of the new social website, Exodus Conversations.  Published on the web, Exodus Conversations is intended to encourage an international dialogue. It features side by side presentations of the story of the Exodus as presented in the Qur’an and in the Book of Exodus. This is augmented by the traditional Passover service with a notable difference. At sixteen junctures, three scholars — a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim discuss issues which arise from the text. The scholars are not and could not speak on behalf of their faith communities. Rather, they are offering their individual responses based on their experiences within those communities.


Date: 2013-09-16
Title:  Eblast - State of Formation Weekly - September 16th
Details: We are pleased to announce that Paul Raushenbush will deliver a special presentation on expanding one's voice within the online public sphere at the State of Formation workshop on AAR/SBL. Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. From 2003-2011, Raushenbush was the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. He was the President of the Association Of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA) from 2009-20011. An ordained American Baptist minister, Rev. Raushenbush speaks and preaches at colleges, churches and institutes around the country including The Chautauqua Institute, the Center for American Progress, the New America Foundation and the Aspen Institute. Raushenbush is regularly invited to offer commentary on issues of religion and society on national television and radio. His current focus is on the interplay between religion and the internet. Read more about his work and writing here.


Date: 2013-09-13
Title: Eblast - Parliament Webinar Invite: Tectonic Leadership Using Tension to Transform Conflict
Details: Tectonic Leadership presents a cutting edge approach to Leadership, Cross-Cultural  Communication and Conflict Transformation, in that it uses tension to bridge the divide and promotes leadership in pairs from opposite sides of conflict. Brenda Naomi Rosenberg and Samia Bahsoun come together to present this webinar as an extension of their unique leadership model. Participants will learn how to identify tension in intercultural, interfaith community building and to implement the model to strengthen the communities they lead. Further, participants will learn how to develop strong partnerships across divides in seek of solving common problems, including the difficulty often encountered in inter-generational settings.


Date: 2013-09-16
Title: Newsletter - 120 Years Toward Religious Pluralism
DetailsCPWR is delighted to launch our anniversary newsletter series, a long time in the making - 120 years! This exploration of Swami Vivekananda commemorates the legacy created 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions in his opening address, September 11, 1893. Among Swami Vivekananda’s most significant contributions to global culture are his reflections on religious pluralism, which can be defined broadly as the idea that there is truth to be found in many religious traditions, and not only one.  Inspired by his master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda articulated a vision of interreligious harmony and cooperation that is even more desperately needed today than it was over a century ago, when Swamiji proclaimed it at the 1893 Chicago Parliament of the World’s Religions. This paper will present some of the main features of Swami Vivekananda’s thought on religious pluralism, such as the distinction between acceptance and tolerance, the fact that the world’s religions are not “all the same,” the idea of non-conversion, and the idea of mutual enrichment among diverse traditions.


Date: 2013-09-10
Title: Eblast - Play The Compassion Games with Us!
Details


Date: 2013-09-09
Title: Eblast - State of Formation Weekly - September 9th
Details: Literally translated as the Head of the Year, Rosh Hashanah is known by many names. Yom Ha Zikaron – the Day of Remembrance; Yom T'ruah – the Day the Trumpets Sound; Yom ha Din – the Day of Judgment. It is also known as Hayom Harat Olam – the Day of the World’s Conception. While throughout the machzor [Holiday prayer book] we will refer to God as Ha Melech [the King] and Aveinu Malkeinu [Our father, our king], calling on the strong, powerful masculine aspects of God, these are also the days on which we will repeatedly call out God’s attributes, beginning with “Adonai, Adonai, El Rachum v’hanun,” relating to God as the source of rachamim—compassion—the eternal rechem or womb from which the world came—and continually comes—forth.


Date: 2013-09-06
Title: Eblast - You Are Cordially Invited To The Parliament Anniversary Celebration
Details: 120 years ago leaders from religions east and west, came together at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions with a vision for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. And the Interfaith Movement was birthed. It took another 100 years to hold the second Parliament; that event broke down barriers, included groups formerly left out, and attendees committed to work towards a world without wars, hate, and discrimination by signing a pioneering Global Ethic. CPWR is celebrating the 120th and 20th Anniversary of this vision on November 16th in Chicago, and framing the future towards the vision, with a benefit program & dinner to ensure the ongoing work of the Parliament. Please lend your support with your donation of spirit and resources. We hope you can share with us on November 16 as we celebrate:


Date: 2013-09-03
Title: Eblast - Special Webinar Wednesday: Win The Compassion Games!
Details: This September 11 through 21st (International Day of Peace), communities and cities are competing together again for 10 days of "Coop-etition" through the 2nd annual Compassion Games. Compassion Games Director Jon Ramer will be joining us over a webinar special to the Parliament of the World's Religions to introduce interfaith leaders to this year's challenge through the principles of the Charter for Compassion. As cities vie to become "Compassionate Cities," everyone wins. 


Date: 2013-9-04
Title: Newsletter - September 4th State of Formation Newsletter
Details: At the 2013 AAR & SBL Annual Meeting, State of Formation will host a workshop for new and potential Contributing Scholars. The workshop will feature high profile writers who are established voices in the online public sphere. We also hope to feature between 2-3 Outstanding Contributing Scholars who post exemplary content on the State of Formation site. This workshop will serve as an excellent networking session to begin to navigate the AAR/SBL meeting. Would you like to be featured as an Outstanding Contributing Scholar in the workshop?  Those who are featured will also be given the opportunity to present.   All you need to do is submit a blog entry between now and October 15th offering a reflection on a current event that incorporates your personal perspective and faith/ethical tradition. Please also send Honna (honna@irdialogue.org) and Ben (ben@irdialogue.org) an email with the title of the post you want to be considered for this project. Please note that no travel subsidizes are available; therefore those who want to present at the workshop should already be planning on attending AAR/SBL.


Date: 2013-08-26
Title: Eblast - An Invitation To Breakfast With CPWR Chair
Details: You are cordially invited to a special Labour Day breakfast to bring together interfaith leadership from all across the Greater Toronto Area. I'm inviting you to meet our Chief Guest Imam Malik Mujahid, Chair of Parliament of World Religions, visiting from Chicago. The Parliament is the largest interfaith body in the world. He would like to hear from your interfaith experience. Imam Mujahid will also make a presentation "Working Together for a Better World". 


Date: 2013-08-24
Title: Newsletter - Walking Back Egypt From The Brink of Anarchy
Details: Preventing Egypt from sliding into civil war is a global security issue, as young militants who a year ago trusted the ballot box could potentially turn into the next generation of extremists. What’s urgently needed is a multi-pronged strategy involving people of moral authority and leaders from countries trusted by the Muslim Brotherhood, the military and secular and liberal groups who can help Egypt walk back from the brink of anarchy and its growing loss of life.


Date: 2013-08-19
Title: Eblast - Save the Date: State of Formation at the American Academy of Religion
Details: If you are committed to interreligious understanding and interested in making your voice heard in conversations playing out in a virtual public square with over 150,000 annual readers, join us for this interactive workshop. State of Formation (SoF) is an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. Engage in conversation with founders of SoF, current featured bloggers and a panel of professionals who are providing quality content about religion in the online environment. This workshop is open to current and aspiring contributors to  State of Formation. For additional information regarding this workshop contact Dr. Jennifer Peace jpeace@ants.edu. The Workshop will be held on Sunday, November 24th from 2-5pm (Please confirm final time and location by checking the AAR program book).


Date: 2013-08-05
Title: Eblast - Annual Call for Contributors - 2013
Details: We are pleased to share that our Annual Contributing Scholars is now open! Nominations and applications for emerging ethical and religious scholars are now being accepted. Those interested in applying or nominating a scholar can do so here. Since 2010, 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. State of Formation garners over 150,000 views per year and has over 200 active Contributing Scholars.


Date: 2013-08-05
Title: Newsletter - Interfaith Hope Alive
Details: Hallelujah! 2013 may be the year that it became cool again to be a Christian. Given the last several decades of political domination of Christianity by a coalition that described themselves as 'the religious right', it is hard to remember that there was a time in the 20th century when Christians were cool and spoke with a powerful, prophetic voice to the major issues of our day. There was a time when Christians like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berrigan brothers, Thomas Merton, Paul Tillich, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Howard Thurman, Reinhold Niebuhr and John XXIII offered the basic framework for what Christianity meant to the world. Collectively, these men and women offered some of the most philosophically deep and socially relevant thought of any kind. They inspired a generation of young people to work in racial reconciliation, environmentalism, economic justice, and anti-war activism. They fed the spirit, while also walking in Jesus' way of justice and peace.


Date: 2013-07-24
Title: Eblast - Parliament Webinar Invite: Responding to Viral Hate On The Internet
Details: From closed groups to public forums, the power of the social internet is feeding a new kind of potentially fatal disease, Viral Hate. From behind screens, social media users are becoming complacent to hate-borne comments and those who are posting them lack concern for the real life repercussions. It is not only, as Abraham H. Foxman and Christopher Wolf explore in their book Viral Hate, the fact that "words of hate can easily turn into acts of hate" but that internet users frighteningly consider hate a natural biproduct of the immense internet sphere. Join the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions in discussion with co-author Christopher Wolf on how these assaults on human dignity cannot simply be censored by law but need, and are in fact an obligation of, companies, internet users themselves and society to counteract this viral problem. 


Date: 2013-07-22
Title: Eblast - July 22 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: I remember the afternoon when Chris Stedman and I hopped on a call with Matt Black and Alisa Roadcup, who were then working for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. I was standing in Central Park in New York City, right after leaving work as a Chaplain Intern at Mount Sinai Hospital. It had been a sunny day. But throughout a largely sunny landscape, raindrops began to fall. I found my way to the cover of a big tree. But the conversation we were having was so engaging that I barely noticed the rain at all.


Date: 2013-07-15
Title: Eblast - July 15 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: When a friend gave me blogger Chris Stedman’s new book Faitheist, I was skeptical at first. The quick, attention-grabbing writing that makes for a good blog post or op-ed column can feel flippant and shallow when the author uses it for a couple hundred pages. However, Chris Stedman makes the jump from screen to page with grace, managing to weave together an argument for greater interfaith engagement with his own life narrative. (Disclosure: Stedman is the emeritus managing director of State of Formation, but I have no personal connection with him.)


Date: 2013-07-19
Title: Newsletter - Transcending Hate, Promoting Harmony
Details: Our stage is barren—stone stairs lead to a concrete platform, overlooking a gravel-filled wasteland. This is where the children played. Our choir of children sings, with tear-streaked faces and frog-filled throats, to honor the children of the concentration camp at Terezin, the music of the Terezin children’s poetry fighting against the wind and empty space. The Youth Choral Theatre of Chicago and the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus studied, practiced, memorized the words on the pages, words that blossomed with new purpose and value in striking contrast against the desolate grey of the children’s residences and yard. The piece we performed, titled “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” is a collection of poems written by children who lived in the concentration camp in Theresienstadt, poetry later put to music. Terezin housed many artists and scholars: this helped the Nazis deceive the Red Cross that the camp was an environment where creativity thrived. In reality, the Nazis Read more...


Date: 2013-07-02
Title: Eblast - Thank You For Liberating Parliament: A Note From Our Chair
Details: Today, just a couple of days before our Independence Day, we are now legally liberated from a long-held debt.  We just heard great news that the federal court has granted Barcelona’s Motion to Dismiss the proceeding against the Parliament with prejudice. Today is the day to celebrate. We thank God. And we thank you. It is the end to an eight-year long nightmare. The Barcelona Parliament was a successful event in 2005. However, due to mismanagement, CPWR failed to pay back a debt to local organizers who claimed that we owed them.  They won an arbitration award against us because we had not protected ourselves properly and then won their case to collect those funds in a U.S. Federal court.


Date: 2013-07-01
Title: Eblast - July 1 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Camped out up the trail from his house in Eastern Kentucky, underneath a makeshift lean-to honoring Sukkot, Chad and I had one of our most personal conversations. In broad terms that are appropriate to share in writing, we spoke of our families, our hopes for the future, our fears. I am a progressive Jew from Boston, and Chad is a Freewill Baptist Preacher and 3rd generation coal miner in Kentucky. One thing we share in common is a dedication to Project CALL, for which we both hold staff positions, fostering multicultural collaboration and leadership amongst diverse youth. In our public work, our private relationship is the foundation. Read more here. 


Date: 2013-07-04
Title: Newsletter - Independence, Interfaith, and Religious Freedom
Details: On July 4, 1776, thirteen colonies on the East Coast of what became the United States declared independence from mother England, thus giving citizens ever since a great occasion. Their act represented only a beginning of an experiment with which citizens have been tampering and venturing ever since. Those who celebrate religious diversity and pluralism especially have good reasons to join the celebration, but they are not helped by those who see both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as finished products, faultless documents written by titans who knew exactly what to do about the religion of Others.  (Let me henceforth capitalize that as a kind of technical term). Thus debates over whether America was founded as a “Christian Nation,” whether it is one today, whether it must be one tomorrow, and whether “secularists” are taking over or have taken over, Read more...


Date: 2013-12-05
Title: Eblast - Madiba No More, 1918 - 2013
Details: We all knew of Nelson Mandela's state and his age. Yet, his death is still a tremendous loss to all of us who learned to struggle against all odds from the man who put his trust in the humanity of his oppressors, the leaders of South Africa's apartheid system. He wrote a new chapter on the power of dialogue which he, a helpless prisoner, initiated with his powerful captors. And he did all of this without losing his dignity, without compromising his principles, and without being intimidated by the power of the apartheid regime.


Date: 2013-06-24
Title: Eblast - Pray for Nelson Mandela
Details


Date: 2013-06-20
Title: Eblast - Uncle Sam Guides Faith Houses on Shooter Threats
Details: On Tuesday, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden announced thegovernment's first guidebook instructing faith congregations to prepare for an armed shooter situation.  Speaking at an emergency preparedness event on gun violence, Biden detailed the 38-page document's purpose in response to the recent rash of gun tragedies in school and faith settings.  The "Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operation Plans for Houses of Worship" outlines strategies to appoint and train congregation members on: 


Date: 2013-06-17

Title: Eblast - June 17 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: The problem with trust, of course, is that it involves vulnerability. By trusting, we risk getting hurt. Yet I have come to realise that failing to trust risks far more harm. I live in the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s busiest cities. London is bursting at the seams with people. Sadly yet inevitably, where there are people, there is crime. I hear police sirens every day and I’m confronted with antisocial behaviour regularly. As such, I’m streetwise and sensible as I move around the city. Yet I also try (though often fail) to trust those around me. Since I re-engaged with religion some years back, seeing my faith afresh through the lens of liberal Quakerism, the notion of trust has grown increasingly important to me. I hope to be considered trustworthy, as I attempt to live out Quaker testimonies to truth and integrity. But further, one of the first Quaker teachings I found truly compelling is the notion of ‘that of God’ in every one. If I long to recognise the divine, to see the good in every person, I can’t live in a state of suspicion, but must commit myself to trust.


Date: 2013-06-05
Title: Eblast - NY, Please Join Us for Faith Against Hate
Details: The Council that convenes the Parliament of the World's Religions is premiering our Faith Against Hate freeday of training in New York on Saturday, June, 22, 2013. In partnership with our hosting sponsor, the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island, the day is planned to educate, inspire, and train a task force of Interfaith experts and new advocates alike on mediating the rising tide of hate in American culture, and specifically address the local impact of this. Co-Sponsors already include the Interfaith Center of New York, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, the Sikh Coalition. Please join us to share learning, training, and complimentary meals on Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Student Center of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY on Long Island. 


Date: 2013-06-03
Title: Eblast - June 3 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Earlier this May, the Minnesota state legislature legalized gay marriage, making Minnesota the twelfth state (in addition to Washington, DC) to recognize same sex marriages. A couple of days after the vote, I stumbled across a photo gallery of activists from both sides rallying at the state capitol. As I scrolled through the gallery looking for people I knew, I was struck by the number of clergy showing support for the bill. Seeing clergy speaking out in favor of gay marriage filled me with thankfulness, pride, and a little bit of relief. But it also made me question if I’ve been holding others to a double standard.


Date: 2013-05-28
Title: Eblast - May 28 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Home is a concept that has little to do with a physical building, but everything to do with the emotional, psychological and spiritual space that we each occupy. We live in this space no matter where we are geographically, and no matter what dwelling we inhabit. Still, there is something to be said about the physical structure that becomes a home. It is a place where multiple people occupy tangible and emotional space together and are tied to it by common memories. When you lose this place – the building that you call “home” – you lose the memories, the connections and comforts that are necessarily contained in that physical place. But you do not lose the inner space that is really home. In fact, you expand it to include people that were previously separated from you by walls and miles, and suddenly thousands of people are occupying that space with you


Date: 2013-06-14
Title: Newsletter - The Science of Compassion
Details: Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.” I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington: “If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.” As director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University (one of the two organizations recognized in the Templeton Prize press release), I would agree with the Dalai Lama.


Date: 2013-05-17
Title: Eblast - Today. 3pm. Chicago. | SOLIDARITY CIRCLE for CARAVAN OF HOPE
Details: The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope. Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery. NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde's entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR.


Date: 2013-05-13
Title: Eblast - You're Invited: Convening Solidarity Circle May 17
Details: The Council for a Parliament for the World’s Religions is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope. Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery. NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde's entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR. 


Date: 2013-05-13
Title: Eblast - May 13 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: They can both be reassuring, and discomfiting. They can affix labels, or they can liberate. They can be subversive, or they can uplift the dominant paradigm. Both can be thrilling and boring. They can be unifying, or alienating. Religion and humor both aspire to help us live our lives a little better, more vitally, more happily, more freely; but both can be destructive, violent, petty, unintelligent, and disappointing. Both have so much potential. And both--as all church-shoppers know, and as all failed attempts at humor know--are really hard to get right. When you get humor right it overtakes you. Same as religion. Both take you out of your body and out of your ego and into a sublime, heightened ecstasy of freedom.


Date: 2013-05-24
Title: Newsletter - Where Youth Trust Faith
Details: The average percentage of global youth trusting religious leaders is now in the single digits. This "mass exodus" is becoming a pervasive challenge for a lion's share of the world's major faith traditions while leaders grapple, struggle, and investigate. Even framing the issue is problematic and poses controversy. So how can the claim religious leaders are performing best in South Africa to connecting to youth be considered credible?


Date: 2013-05-10
Title: Eblast - The Boundaries of Religious Pluralism and Freedom
Details: In 2007, a group of 138 Islamic scholars from a wide range of traditions issued “A Common Word between Us and You,” a public letter addressed to the leaders of the Christian world, including Pope Benedict XVI and a long list of others. The letter proposed the biblical teaching of love of God and neighbor as a common heritage uniting Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and invited further dialogue based on this shared principle. There have been a number of earlier international gatherings that have discussed this proposal at the Vatican, at Cambridge University, Yale University, and at Georgetown University. On April 24, 2013, Georgetown University, the Jesuit university in Washington, DC, which serves as the North American site for the Common Word Project, hosted the most recent Common Word Conference, focusing on “The Boundaries of Religious Pluralism and Freedom: The Devil is in the Detail.”


Date: 2013-05-06
Title: Eblast - May 6 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Winter is loitering in Minnesota this year, even though we’ve asked it to move along. Last Thursday brought a half-foot of snow, and April 19th achieved a record low of 21 degrees before the sun came up on Saturday. The 19th was also the date for Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative’s annual event, A Night on the Street.That night, I joined 268 youth and adults from 22 faith communities to sleep in cardboard boxes in Plymouth Congregational Church’s parking lot in downtown Minneapolis. The youth raised over $25,000 for housing specifically for homeless young people, and we learned about the realities of being homeless from youth who have been there and from street outreach workers who see it everyday.


Date: 2013-05-06
Title: Eblast - Reminder to Join Us on May 11 to Celebrate
Details: I hope you have seriously considered joining us for our two hour interfaith celebration at the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, IL on May 11, 2013 from 3-5 PM. You will be served a vegetarian meal, Langar, provided by the Sikh community. This event, as part of the anniversary initiative Looking Back to Move Forward, will focus on the theme of hope for the future. Please find the event details in this flyer. All are welcome and we encourage you invite family, friends and colleagues. Please remember to cover your head (scarves will be provided if you cannot bring one), remove your shoes, and leave all intoxicants (including cigarettes) at home or in the car to observe the rules of the Gurdwara. Also, seating will be on the floor, but chairs can be provided for the elderly and disabled. 


Date: 2013-05-02
Title: Eblast - May 22, Chicago: Touched by Violence, Partnering for Peace
Details: The Council for the Parliament for the World’s Religions Faiths Against Hate Campaign and SCUPE (Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education) present “Touched By Violence, Partnering for Peace” on May 22, 2013 at the American Islamic College in Chicago, IL. We are sponsoring this one day workshop for leaders, clergy, and people who are called to make a difference by transforming hate and violence into partnerships for peace. Please find the event details in this flyer. Our life experiences are shaped and colored by violence.  Whether we are dealing with a child caught in the cross fire of gang activity or violence against our religious community or that of our neighbors, transformative leadership  demands that we bring compassionate and proactive responses to the tragedies of our  day and age.  Transformative leadership also demands listening to the stories of those impacted by violence, looking critically at our own faith traditions, and strategizing on how we as religious communities can partner for the sake of peace.


Date: 2013-04-29
Title: Eblast - April 29 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: We are thrilled to announce that Issue 12 of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue was published earlier today. We are eager to share these articles--with a variety of perspectives and exciting new scholarship--widely with our communities. Link to homepage, with downloadable PDF to the full issue: In this issue, we explore issues of ethics and bioethics, particularly as they are played out and reflected in our religious and faith traditions and practices. These are often the questions that keep us awake at night, or around a dinner table, or at our own desks, studying, and pondering.


Date: 2013-04-25
Title: Eblast - Thank You For Saving the Parliament!
Details: Thanks to the overwhelming support of so many individuals, groups and faith traditions, the Parliament of Religions paid off the contested court judgment from the 2004 Barcelona Parliament this week.  We celebrate this amazing three week achievement and again say our heartfelt thanks to each one of you. The donations, small and large, came from 765 individuals and religious groups.  Each donation helped meet the goal; this settlement made a major impact in the financial health of the Parliament and relieves us of this threat so we can deal with other challenges. We are moved and encouraged by these expressions of support.  Here are just a few:  The Parliament is such an important vehicle for peace in the world…We need the Parliament now more than ever…..May the Creator continue to strengthen the Parliament for the sake of His people….Go! We are behind you…..The world needs you CPWR…..Blessings on the work of the Parliament! May we work side by side to understand each other and grow in our compassionate service to our neighbors!


Date: 2013-04-22
Title: Eblast - Come Celebrate with the Parliament on May 11
Details


Date: 2013-04-25
Title: Newsletter - 10 Essential Points on Boston, Islam, and America
Details: Here are ten basic points that we would all do well to keep in mind as we try to make sense of a world that seems to be in need of sanity and compassion.


Date: 2013-04-22
Title: Eblast - April 22 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: As I have stated earlier, Quaker faith is inextricably linked with its practice. That is, whilst we are known for our penchant towards silence, we hold a longstanding tradition of championing issues of social justice.Other Christian denominations have debated, for centuries, the Mary/Martha debacle (found in Luke, chapter 10). For those not versed in the text of Luke, Mary and Martha are two sisters who are friends of Jesus. When Jesus visits their house, Mary sits at his feet (as was the custom of gender relations), and is recorded as listening intently, though she probably contributed to dialogue. Martha, on the other hand, busied herself with all of the household duties for those visiting. The debate which has ensued is: which is preferable? To sit and attend the esoteric? Or to busy ourselves with the lived necessities?


Date: 2013-04-16
Title: Eblast - Come Celebrate 120 Years of the Parliament
Details: Now that we have successfully met the Barcelona judgment challenge, we are moving on to exciting celebratory events! Honoring the 120th Anniversary of the 1893 Parliament and the 20th Anniversary of the 1993 Parliament, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is embarking on a celebratory initiative entitled, “Looking Back to Move Forward.” This initiative has offered an insightful look into the work of past Parliaments and connected the Council with many Parliament attendees.


Date: 2013-04-16
Title: Eblast - Come Celebrate 120 Years With The Parliament
Details


Date: 2013-04-15
Title: Eblast - April 15 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: I never thought much about religion until I was in high school, and even then, it was in the limited context of my Presbyterian church. It wasn’t until my sophomore year at Wesleyan that I began to consider religious differences, which happened by chance when I got an email asking for volunteers at the Interfaith Justice League’s Annual Fast-a-Thon and Ramadan Banquet. I didn’t know what interfaith meant, what Ramadan was, or how a fast-a-thon worked, but out of curiosity, I attended the meeting


Date: 2013-04-13
Title: Eblast - Less Than Two Days to Save the Parliament
Details: In case you haven't heard, the Parliament recently announced that we are at a critical junction. To overcome a dangerous financial challenge we need your help by Monday or we are forced to close. Plans for moving forward jumpstarted us to 90 percent of our total need with relief efforts from Baha'i, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Native, Unitarian, Jewish, Humanist, Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Buddhist and Spiritual communities.  In this rush to rescue the Parliament, friends have raised more than $120,000 in just two weeks time! But this is our last chance, and we need you to help us enter a new era.


Date: 2013-04-12
Title: Eblast - Monday Is The Day: Act Now to Save The Parliament!
Details: Your gifts and commitments have lifted us to just $30,000 awayfrom saying, "we did it!" The Parliament of the World's Religions CAN lead global Interfaith into the future and be saved from immediate closure. If you want to see our work for a just, peaceful and sustainable world move forward, we need your support NOW. Please donate whatever you can today and join the global family of Baha'i, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Native, Unitarian, Humanist, Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Buddhist and Spiritual communities giving generously to save the Parliament of the World's Religions on CauseVox.


Date: 2013-04-10
Title: Eblast - Last Chance: 5 Days to Save the Parliament
Details: We have five days left. Over the last two weeks, we have raised $105,000 to carry the Parliament into the future and save us from immediate closure. If you want to see work of the Parliament of the World's Religions continue, we need your support NOW. Please donate whatever you can today and join the global family of Baha'i, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Buddhist and Spiritual communities giving generously to save the Parliament of the World's Religions on CauseVox. 


Date:2013-04-16 
Title: Newsletter - Prayers for Boston, Reflections On Fear
Details: The Council that convenes the Parliament of the World’s Religions reels in the pain felt worldwide because of yesterday’s tragic bombing. We share our deepest sympathy for those who’ve lost life and limb, their families, and the City of Boston. For many still fighting to stay alive, we stand with you. The Parliament of the World's Relgions commits to channeling the energy of love and prayers into unyielding action against violence. We honor the runners whose beautiful journeys, many in tribute to the slain of Sandy Hook Elementary, were robbed of their triumphant finish. Their strength and determination exemplified heroism yesterday when running through that harrowing scene to aid the wounded. We must not let the hope they give us all become tarnished by violence.


Date: 2014-04-08
Title: Ebalst - April 8 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: After Auschwitz, no theology: From the chimneys of the Vatican, white smoke rises --a sign the cardinals have chosen themselves a Pope. From the crematoria of Auschwitz, black smoke rises - - a sign the conclave of Gods hasn't yet chosen the Chosen People.1 - -Yehuda Amichai On Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day to mourn the Holocaust, what do we do? Theodor Adorno claimed, “There is no poetry after Auschwitz.” But if there is no poetry, we have nothing to read and if we have no theology, we have nothing to believe. Our souls are left starving, craving answers and hungering to cry out. Amichai has attempted to prove Adorno wrong—he has written the poetry. But have we attempted to prove Amichai wrong? Do we have theology after the Holocaust? Do we have any semblance of answers?


Date: 2013-04-05
Title: Eblast - We're almost there!
Details: What an outpouring of support! Thanks to hundreds of generous interfaith advocates we are almost there! With a little more help, we CAN put this tentative time behind us. A reminder of what happened … and why now … Eight days ago we openly shared that the Parliament is in jeopardy of closing its doors due to an obligation to pay a court judgment of $276,000. It is the result of circumstances in 2004 when we needed a last-minute loan to produce the Barcelona Parliament. Attendees became hesitant to travel after a bomb killed and injured thousands in Madrid months before the event. It went on in spite of that and became a transformative experience of overcoming fear through Interfaith harmony.


Date: 2013-04-02
Title: Eblast - SAVE THE PARLIAMENT
Details: We need you. Now more than ever.The Parliament of the World’s Religions is faced with a single financial challenge that will determine whether we can continue to exist.We need to raise $150,000 by April 15 in order to carry on the work of convening people for peace, justice and interfaith understanding. 


Date: 2013-04-01
Title: Eblast - April 1 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: As a child growing up in Los Angeles, my friends and I were from all sorts of different backgrounds, religions, and traditions, and we accepted this diversity as normal and beautiful. We were fascinated by each other’s differences, and we loved and accepted each other as we were. Of course, I had no idea how unusual this was. At that point, I considered my commitment to building relationships with those different from me to be an enriching intellectual pursuit


Date: 2013-03-28
Title: Eblast - THIS IS THE HOUR. THE TIME IS NOW.
Details: As a treasured friend of the Parliament since Melbourne, you know the value the Parliament of the World’s Religions has had to the global interfaith movement - hosting the world’s largest interfaith events and transforming lives and communities around the world. Now we need YOUR help. We are faced with a single financial challenge that will determine whether we can continue to exist. By April 15, the Parliament of the World’s Religions needs to raise $150,000. It’s that simple. And it’s that critical.


Date: 2013-03-28
Title: Newsletter - Internet Interfaith: Organized and Unstoppable
Details: When a dozen twenty-somethings gathered in my tiny living room in the fall of 2010, vexed about the firestorm of protest against Park 51, an Islamic center planned in Manhattan known as “the Ground Zero Mosque,” we had no idea that we were planting the seed for a movement. We were Christian, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Humanist Millennials who had come of age in the decade after September 11, 2001. All of us were tired of witnessing religion wielded as a weapon to destroy, denigrate, and demonize others. This time, through drumming up controversy around Park 51, a small conservative network had succeeded in spreading widespread fear of Islam. When a pastor in Florida sparked riots around the world after threatening to burn the Qur’an, we gathered in my apartment to ask what we could do to stop the madness.


Date: 2013-03-25
Title: Eblast - March 25 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: As a father of one–year–old twin boys, and witness to both the love and the antagonism shared between them, I have been granted many an occasion to reflect on how it can be that those with whom we share the most are often those with whom we fight the most. Somewhat unexpectedly, I find my experiences raising twins to overlap in profound ways with recent interfaith experiences. Nearing the end of my first year facilitating an interfaith class in my United Methodist church, I have found myself relieved and encouraged that all seems to have gone well, that our class has been able to engage in dialogue with a wide range of religiously diverse guest speakers—including Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh—without much fuss or struggle.


Date: 2013-03-18
Title: Eblast - March 18 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Last night I went to Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. I hoped to to see the black smoke of the papal conclave. I figured the dark puff would roil out from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and the sorry crowd would disperse into the dusk. I heard the smoke would disperse around 4:30pm so I arrived at the Piazza at 4:00, wrapped in a cheap plastic poncho and sheltered by a pink Hello Kitty umbrella in the spring storm. A crowd amassed, a burgeoning tower of Babel between the many languages of lay people and nuns and priests and monastics of every order. Raindrops plopped steadily, soaking our feet and coats, and evening advanced. As the night grew colder and wetter the crowd ballooned, pushing toward Saint Peter’s towering basilica, lit grandly in the dusk. A high central window was draped in red velvet curtains, drawn closed. The vacant seat of the Vatican taunted us from on high.


Date: 2013-03-15
Title: Newsletter - Francis: A Pope for Interfaith
Details: For the first time in history, the newly elected pontiff chose to be called Francis, a name with significant resonance for the poor and for interreligious relations. On March 13, 2013, the Conclave of Cardinals of the Catholic Church elected Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina as the 266th Pope, bishop of Rome, and successor to St. Peter. In response to questions, Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S.J., clarified that the new pope chose this name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was known as “Il Poverello” (the little poor one) because of his affection and concern for the poor and his simple lifestyle. These have long been hallmarks of the life of Cardinal Bergoglio, who abandoned the elaborate episcopal residence in Buenos Aires for a simpler abode and who used public transportation instead of a chauffeur. He has spoken passionately about the plight of the world’s poor as a scandal that cries to heaven. Read more...


Date: 2013-03-11
Title: Eblast- How Interfaith Coalitions Can Strategically Combat Hate
Details: In August 2012, in response to the massacre of six worshipers at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the Sikh Coalition petitioned the U.S. Senate to hold a hearing on hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism.  The appeal was endorsed by over 150 organizations and resulted in a hearing the following month that paid tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in Oak Creek and also highlighted the growing dangers of extremism and religious intolerance in the United States. Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, will discuss his organization’s strategic engagement with government, media, and community groups to make the hearing a reality.  Using the hearing as a model, the discussion will focus on advocacy strategies that interfaith organizations can use to combat bigotry and promote social justice.


Date: 2013-03-11
Title: Eblast - March 11 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: It is time to stop referring to the collective numbers that Pew Research is so famous for when we talk about the “nones.”   Yes, on January 9th, USAToday did run a graphic on the front page of its national edition that showed that the “religiously unaffiliated” were now the third largest spiritual group in the world at 16 percent.  So the unaffiliated, as a group, now surpass the Hindus and Buddhists and Jews and every other spiritual community except for Christians and Muslims.  Yes, that is a significant number, but what does the number mean?  Like every other spiritual community identified by the Pew numbers, there is such a wide variety of spiritual practices and expressions within the cohort that it is time to look at the individuals that make up that group, and then, as clergy (or aspiring clergy), find ways to support their individual needs


Date: 2013-03-04
Title: Eblast - March 4 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: I grew up in Spokane, Washington. There was an active Klan group centered just across the state line from us, about 30 minutes away. In 1994 we were still taught that the Cold War was happening, and that our town was a current target because of our aluminum plant. We had a conversation each year about whether or not the white pride march should happen in the neighboring town, as though there were a question about it. I did not grow up Christian, but became Christian in high school, and I didn’t know any non-Christians outside of my family. My school was about 97% white. It was a very homogenous environment


Date: 2013-02-25
Title: Eblast - February 25 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: This month, the Jewish community is marking Jewish Disability Awareness Month, as it has since February 2008. Throughout February, congregations and communal organizations of all stripes will be holding programs, special prayer services, text studies and the like, all with the overarching goal of raising awareness about issues and concerns that people with disabilities face in the Jewish community. Through increased education and exposure, it is hoped that people will become more attuned to the unique and intensely varied, I must add, needs of Jews with disabilities and will actively seek to integrate and include them into the rich fabric of Jewish communal and congregational life.


Date: 2013-02-18
Title: Eblast - February 18 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: A dear mentor of mine once told me that I often sound more like a mystic than an atheist. I have embraced this observation and in many ways I define my religious identity as a ‘mystical atheist.’ This means, simply, that I find myself struggling with many of the same questions that entangle my theistic counterparts. Just as there are certain challenges to asking these questions within the framework of a particular religious tradition, there are numerous challenges to asking them as an atheist. In both cases, there are many shortcomings in the proposed answers. And, so far, neither the standard theistic nor atheistic answers feel emotionally or intellectually satisfying.


Date: 2013-02-15
Title: Eblast - Act Now To Support Faiths Against Hate
Details: A generous major donor is offering to provide a twelve-month matching grant up to $50,000 for An Interfaith Campaign to Stop Hate through Neighborly Relations, Dialogue and Engagements around Sacred Spaces. The matching dollars are available immediately and will be disbursed as contributions are received over a period of one year ending December 31, 2013.


Date: 2013-02-28
Title: Newsletter - Three Perspectives on the Pope and Interfaith
Details: Benedict XVI’s papacy has been marked by ups and downs. There was more than one colossal “faux pas” (.e.g the Regensburg speech) with regard to Muslims (and the Bishop Williamson affair). Overall, however, Benedict generally kept intact the interreligious thrust of the Catholic Church generated by Vatican II But he did not do much to advance that thrust beyond his predecessor John Paul II. If (and that remains a big “if”) the new Pope wishes to move interreligious relations to a new level I see three interrelated challenges before him. The first will be how to handle the strong emphasis on evangelization and dialogue that has been a central of the past several years of Benedict XVI’s time in office. In my mind few Catholic leaders have really struggled with the question, “can you mount an evangelization campaign and still remain committed to interreligious relations?” Doesn’t such an evangelization outreach place “the other” on unequal footing from the Catholic perspective? And doesn’t authentic dialogue require some affirmation of the coequal status of your dialogue partner? Read more...


Date: 2013-02-11
Title: Eblast - February 11 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter & Call for Contributors
Details: “A woman is acquired [in marriage] in three ways…by money, by document, or by intercourse.” This is how the first mishnah in the tractate Kiddushin begins. In just this sentence alone we gain a window into how women were seen in the world of the rabbis. As each subsequent generation—from the Talmudic sages of 600 CE to 20th century feminist scholars—probe this Mishnah, the meaning of this statement is investigated, challenged, and, ultimately, transformed. At first glance it seems clear that women are treated as objects that men are able to own. The ensuing Talmudic discussion in the first chapter of Kiddushin explores this idea and attempts to tease apart exactly how much agency a woman has or is entitled to in the process of betrothal. The fact that a woman can be acquired by money at all might lead us to think that she is within the designation of chattel. Indeed, land, goods and animals can also be acquired by purchase. It seems from this first phrase that women have no say in the matter and are therefore objects to be acted upon, rather than actors in their own right.


Date: 2013-02-04
Title: Eblast - Don't Miss Our Women's Task Force at the United Nations: March 4 - 6, NYC
Details: Religion, Culture and Violence Against Women will explore vital questions at the intersection of women's issues and religion, particularly as they relate to this year's UN-CSW focus on violence against women: What has been the use of religious doctrine to justify violence against women and does religion have the precepts, influence and power to change these age-old beliefs and practices? What are the current challenges and opportunities for women - of all faiths and in all countries? How do we create real change? And how can we support one another in making change? Presentations from diverse religious traditions will be followed by small group discussions.


Date: 2013-02-04
Title: Eblast - February 4 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter & Call for Contributors
Details: The 2013 Spring Call for Contributing Scholars is now open! You are invited to nominate yourself or an emerging scholar! Nominate yourself or someone you know! Over the past two and a half 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. Currently, the site garners over 150,000 views per year.


Date: 2013-02-01
Title: Eblast - Religion and Conflict: Issue 11 of JIRD
Details: In this issue of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, we begin to examine two “hot topics” that have crossed many of our family tables and neighborhood cafes: religion and conflict. The faithful and unbelievers alike so frequently bring the two ideas together in conversation and question, and we at the Journal wondered how scholars might consider the ideas in tension. In “On the Indigenismo of American Religion: Toward a Postcolonial Pedagogy,” Paul Rodriguez begins with the suppression of the rights of Mexican Americans to explore educational and political policy. Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon examines conflict as religious practice in “Ethnic Cleansing as Religious Practice: Religion, Ethnicity and Political Conflict in Bosnia during the War.” Peter Dziedzic begins with conflict and moves to questions of identity and engagement in “Re-approaching Inter-religious Engagement in Israel/Palestine: Moving Beyond Questions of Religious Identity and Experience.” In “Democracy: Instrument for or Expression of a Christian Political Order?” by George Harinck and Hans-Martien ten Napel ask if the political and religious realms can work together for society to flourish.


Date: 2013-01-30
Title: Eblast - Chicago Invitation This Week - An Evening with Imam Feisal and Interreligious New Year
Details: Interreligious New Year Celebration developed by Sacred Space Ambassador Suzanne Morgan with Carisse Ramos, hosted by the Midwest Buddhist Temple Friday, February 1 | 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. | 435 W. Menomonee St., Chicago, IL An Evening with Imam Feisal, "The Voice of Moderate Muslims" for a lecture, reception, and signing of his book "Moving the Mountain: From Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America" presented by the Gratz Center of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Wednesday, February 6 |7:00 p.m., | Buchanan Chapel 126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, IL


Date: 2013-02-01
Title: Newsletter - The Power of Non-Violence
Details: “We’ve gotta tear down those walls. We’ve gotta TEAR DOWN those walls. WE’VE GOTTA TEAR DOWN THOSE WALLS!”Depicting a 1960’s summer rally, Dr. Mary Nelson, CPWR’s Interim CEO, relives a historical moment. For her, this is a personal story of joining her neighbors to protest housing discrimination against people of color. Committing to march for the civil rights cause, Mary worked passionately for this open, “beloved” community.Leading the civil rights movement to the North, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had journeyed to Chicago to launch what would become a summer-long effort. His Saturday marches concentrated on those neighborhoods that were the most bitterly opposed to integration.Nelson says, “King preached the night before [the first march] that we had to tear down the walls of racism, of economic injustice, and the way to tear down those walls was to peacefully just make a witness and be strong. We had to have some training in non-violence and how to do that.” Read more...


Date: 2013-01-28
Title: Eblast - January 28 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: Next week we are excited to announce a new and revised Call for Contributors.  One of the main goals of State of Formation is to foster engagement between future ethical/religious leaders from different backgrounds.  Since the project was started in the fall of 2010, we have learned a few lessons (that I have written about below) and are improving are application process!


Date: 2013-01-21
Title: Eblast - January 21 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: I can’t stop thinking about Sunando Sen. Two weeks before Mr. Sen was pushed into the elevated tracks at 40th-Lowery St, I stood on that platform, fresh from an evening with a good friend. I love the rhythm and rhyme of that part of Sunnyside. Perhaps Mr. Sen also walked past the Sunnyside mural and admired its beauty, went shopping at that interesting bodega on Queens Boulevard bursting with reasonably priced produce, or perhaps he, too, had a wonderful group of friends to look forward to seeing every time he walked down from the elevated platform.


Date: 2013-01-18
Title: Newsletter - Celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda
Details: Visitors exiting the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue are often perplexed by the street sign that reads Swami Vivekananda Way. What is it doing there? Who is this swami, and why does he deserve an honorary street name like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Hefner and other Chicago legends? Most Americans would not have a clue, but interfaith activists do, and Hindus do, and a great many yoga practitioners and students of Eastern philosophy do, and everyone in India certainly does. And this year, millions more will learn why Vivekananda remains a revered figure more than a century after his passing. January 12th was the 150th anniversary of his birth, and celebrations and tributes will be held all year throughout India and much of the West.


Date: 2013-01-14
Title: Eblast - January 14 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: This multi-faith panel of “elders” will discuss how multi-faithcommunities have influenced social justice over the past two decades, what are the current issues being addressed, and what isstill to be accomplished. They offer insight as to how young activists can play a pivotal role in accomplishing some of these key objectives and what it will mean for the future of this country and our place in a global society.


Date: 2013-01-11
Title: Eblast - Celebrating Vivekananda's 150th Birth Anniversary in Chicago
Details: January 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu monk who became one of the most notable religious leaders of the 19th century. The Art Institute, as the site of his famous 1893 speech promoting religious tolerance, marks this anniversary with a Fullerton Hall showing of the 2011 documentary Swami Vivekananda: An Introspect (running time: 29 minutes) by Aloke Banerjee and Jaydip Mukherjee. Screenings of the film begin at 11:00 and will repeat with the last screening at 3:30. 111 S. Michigan Avenue Chicago in the Fullerton Hall of the Art Institute Free with Museum Admission


Date: 2013-01-10
Title: Newsletter - What are guns to religion?
Details: BACK IN 1990, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued this warning: “The religious community must … take seriously the risk of idolatry that could result from an unwarranted fascination with guns, which overlooks or ignores the social consequences of their misuse.” Two decades later, about 660,000 more Americans have been killed by guns, with a million more injured. These figures convince me that what was a risk in 1990 has become our reality today: For too many, guns have become idols. They claim divine status; make promises of safety and security they cannot keep; transform people and neighborhoods; create enemies; and require human sacrifice.  Read more...


Date: 2013-01-07
Title: Eblast - January 7 State of Formation Weekly Newsletter
Details: I have always felt that having a December birthday right around the time of Christmas prevents me from fully appreciating either celebration. However, New Year’s is another holiday that is near my birthday (12/15), which I have come to appreciate its proximity. Whereas birthdays represent the beginning of a New Year of an individual’s life, New Year’s is a time of collective continuing in our journeys as individuals in our interconnected web of existence.