Friday, September 23, 2011

Hindu Festivals - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic

Hindu Festivals - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic:

'via Blog this'

The images in this photo montage of Hindu festivals are absolutely stunning. I invite anyone and everyone to look the pictures over and truly feel the vibrancy of the celebrations depicted!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interfaith News Roundup

Florida Religious Groups to Hold Memorial on 9/11 Anniversary

A decade ago, religion impelled people to hijack planes and commit mass murder. Yet this coming week, religion will be the setting for many services memorializing the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Two religious responses from the days immediately following the attacks of 9/11 demonstrate how religion has been both a divisive and unifying force in America over the last ten years. The first was from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell . . . The second response was different. As soon as reports made clear that the terrorists claimed allegiance to the fundamentalist Islam of Osama bin Laden, many feared violence might be directed toward the American Muslim population.

Shayna Solomon found a common thread between Judaism, Christianity and Islam: they all are trying to save the world. So why not capitalize on a shared vision? Why not work together to help those in need? “When you bring people together to talk, it doesn’t do as much as when you bring people together to do,” she said.

In June of 2010, the three of us, Rev. Jerry Campbell, Imam Jihad Turk and Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, announced an agreement for our respective institutions to co-create the world's first inter-religious university -- a place where rabbis, ministers, imams and other religious leaders would each be educated in their own traditions, side by side, but also with classes in common. The new university would include academic schools for students who wanted to do world-healing work in non-religious fields as well.

The Duke Divinity School and the Faith Council hosted a panel discussion Wednesday to discuss the topic of faith communities and their responses to the terrorist attacks in 2001. Dean of the Duke Divinity School Richard Hays introduced the speakers—Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli, Buddhist Chaplain Sumi Kim, Assistant Director of Jewish Studies Laura Lieber and Dean of the Duke Chapel Sam Wells. The speakers vocalized hopes for future interfaith unity.

Interfaith worship services have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, according to a new study released Wednesday (Sept. 7), even as more than seven in 10 U.S. congregations do not associate with other faiths. The survey by an interfaith group of researchers found that about 14 percent of U.S. congregations surveyed in 2010 engaged in a joint religious celebration with another faith tradition, up from 6.8 percent in 2000.

Interfaith is a term that should be avoided because it downplays uniqueness between various religions and faiths. It creates a contrived atmosphere, one driven by the politically correct world in which we live. By trying to encompass all faiths, the term interfaith loses any distinction between people. Instead, the term asks for the distinction between “religious” and “non-religious” people.

The House of Lords held a debate yesterday on 'interfaith' dialogue, focussing on how to improve communication between religious groups to improve social cohesion but also covering ‘faith’ schools and the role of religion in politics.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interfaith News Roundup

I apologize for not posting last week's roundup! I let myself get involved in the "last week before school" frenzy with the kids, and ended up doing very little online besides a bit of playing games. I'm back now, though, with no excuses for not updating. The kiddies are back in school, full time and in kindergarten finally! Hooray for our smalls! That said, today's roundup will be a bit longer than usual, as I have quite the list of interesting articles stored up for your perusal.

Organic garden brings two faiths together to raise food for needy families - Last Monday, Brent Lowenberg delivered 48 pounds of organically grown heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash and okra to The Central Pantry, 1007 Big Bear Blvd. Lowenberg and Sean Ross, the pantry coordinator, sorted through the fresh vegetables and carried them out to pantry recipients.

Lexington Interfaith Clergy to Host Sept. 11 Gathering - A gathering for all people will be held on the Battle Green in Lexington at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. The faith communities of Lexington, representing many traditions, will host the event, to be led by the clergy of the communities. People of all religious faiths and those of no particular faith are all welcome. The theme will be “Hope from Our Hearts.”

Geneseo Schedules Programs for White House's Interfaith Community Service Campus Initiative - GENESEO, N.Y. - The State University of New York at Geneseo is preparing a year of interfaith service programming on campus as part of an initiative by President Obama to engage college campuses in building understanding among communities and contributing to the common good. The year-long Geneseo Interfaith Service Project (GISP) will include programs to advance religious tolerance and a series of service projects, lectures, reflections and social activities surrounding the theme of energy and the environment. GISP is Geneseo's response to the president's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.

Religions in Catalonia unite to promote global change - BARCELONA, Spain — A dialogue about how religions can contribute to achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has come to fruition with a new publication in Spanish. In a significant interfaith initiative for Spain, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Christians – Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Universal Unitarians – gathered together to explore their beliefs in relation to the MDGs which all 193 UN member states and other international organizations agreed to achieve between the years 2000 and 2015.

East Bay religious groups promote peace throughout events - May peace prevail on Earth. It's a message that a coalition of East County-based religious denominations are hoping to share throughout the East Bay next month. The Interfaith Peace Project, an Antioch-based nonprofit group, and the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa will hold an 11-day celebration promoting mutual respect and tolerance. The event begins on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack and ends on Sept. 21, the U.N.-sponsored International Day of Peace. Activities will be held in Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Walnut Creek, Fremont and Oakland.

Interfaith dialogue necessary - How is it that the same issues of stereotyping, generalization, and overall misunderstanding between the major religions of the world still plague us as they did a thousand years ago? One would think with the world being diverse and having the largest wealth of knowledge ever, mutual existence would not be an ongoing dilemma. A mentality of “us” and “them” is still abound and arguably growing stronger, as the truth behind the tragedy in Norway, which was so starkly epitomized for the world last month. Following the mass shooting, which killed at least 85 people, many pundits were quick to judge, holding “Muslim extremists” accountable for the disaster. Instead, despite some speculation as to cohorts, Anders Behring Breivik, described by the Washington Post as a “right-wing anti-Muslim extremist and self-styled crusader,” confessed to being killer. The quickness with which the original conclusion was reached — and the minimal evidence that accompanied it — belie the shortcomings of religious tolerance campaigns.

Perfect Union - As we approach the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, a day that called on all Americans to dig deep in their hearts and come together as one nation, it would do well for "we the people" to take an annual checkup on the state of our more perfect union. When our Founding Fathers penned the words, "in order to form a more perfect union," they laid a framework for democracy that would depend on an active citizenry. We had overthrown the injustice of a monarchy, and set the course for a nation that would be the city on the hill, the beacon for the tired and poor and the hope of liberty for a world buried under injustice. These were our ideals.

Interfaith Commemoration - On Sunday, Sept. 11, from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Temple Sinai of Roslyn will host a program commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11, “Living as People of Faith in a Fearful World.” This interfaith perspective will feature leaders from a wide variety of religious institutions in the community, namely The Islamic Center of Long Island, the Sid Jacobson JCC, Temple Judea of Manhasset, Shelter Rock Jewish Center, Friendship Baptist Church of Roslyn, Temple Beth Sholom, Trinity Episcopal Church of Roslyn, Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation, Roslyn Presbyterian Church and Temple Sinai of Roslyn. The event will be co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island, and is free and open to the entire community. No advanced reservations are needed.

Interfaith Understanding Remains Elusive 10 Years After 9/11 - In a post-9/11 bid to better relations with local Muslims, pastor Bob Roberts invited Muslims to his NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, for Q-and-A sessions, a cooking club and to help on a few home remodeling projects. The result: Roberts lost "a bunch of church members," he said. In Denver, pastor Max Frost asked volunteers from his Roots Vineyard church to help paint a local mosque. Friends and family told him it was a bad idea. And at Hillsboro Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn., the Rev. Nancy McCurley started an interfaith Scripture study with local Muslims, only to be told by a critic that "in a year's time, this church will be a mosque."

After Sept 11 Religion Can No Longer Be Ignored - "Religion, at last, can no longer be ignored." That was one of five "unintended, unforeseen" consequences of 9/11, according to historian R. Scott Appleby of University of Notre Dame. Reporting on the spiritual impact of 9/11 has given me the chance to talk longer with Appleby and with theologian and psychologist Fraser Watts who raises the provocative idea that religion can be "healthy or unhealthy."

Interfaith Harmony - The Jogye Order, the nation’s largest Buddhist sect, has drafted a declaration of religious peace. It is meaningful for the order to initiate interfaith harmony. We hope Christianity, Islam and other religious denominations will join the Buddhist efforts to show tolerance and respect each other.  Last Tuesday, Ven. Dobeop of the Jogye Order made public the draft declaration saying the sect will hold other religions dear. The draft is the first of its kind in South Korea where exclusiveness has long dominated each religion. The religious exclusiveness has run deep in the minds of not only priests but also lay believers.

Conference on social networking promoting dialogue among religions -The role of the Internet and social communication media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in promoting dialogue among religions, will be the theme of the Doha Interfaith conference, organizers said. "This year's conference will revolve around issues like interfaith dialogue, civilisations and cultures with a focus on the role of social communication media in influencing people's opinion," Ebrahim Saleh Al Nuaimi, the director of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), said.

Interfaith Voices - Youths plan to share cultures - I am a Christian, and could make a list of the differences between my Hindu friends and me. It might never stop growing -- as both religions offer their own viewpoints on the daily issues that we encounter in this world. But when all is said and done, the voices of peace and goodness still speak. If there is one thing I am sure of in this life, it is that the grace of God always wins over evil. So, what do we do when it looks like darkness is winning? How do we respond to an anti-Islam terrorists in Norway who claims to be a Christian and justifies 76 killings with what he interprets as the word of God?

Interfaith Engagement - Learn about the initiatives and resources dedicated to increasing cooperation and understanding across diverse religious identities and affiliations at UC San Diego.

Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary Classes to Begin - The Tree of Life School for Sacred Living in Amherst, NH is pleased to announce that they will be opening their doors for the 3rd year, welcoming the students of the Interfaith Seminary Studies Program. Classes begin on Saturday, September 10th and meet monthly.

Let's Talk About God: A Call to Interfaith Dialogue - Opening conversations with people of other faiths is becoming increasingly urgent in a world where people act out their religious prejudices by killing innocents and engaging in other terrorist acts of wanton human destruction. The recent tragedy in Norway reveals the horrors that can be done in the name of faith. Such episodes cause all of us to shudder, wondering how our distorted and sometimes twisted confessions of faith can contribute to such malicious, even psychotic behavior. The church cannot afford to brush aside these episodes, shaking our heads in disbelief. We, the Christian church, this community of devout believers who believe Jesus is the way, must enter this treacherous territory of confronting the evil that is being sown abroad in the name of God. If we fail to speak, we become complicit in contributing to the abuse of religion and failing to take responsibility for the evils being perpetuated in the name of the faith we affirm.

Stay the Course on Interfaith Dialogue - If all goes according to current reports, some time in September, the Palestinian Authority will submit a resolution declaring statehood to the Security Council of the United Nations. While the United States and possibly other Council members are widely expected to veto the resolution, the PA may take its case to the General Assembly, where the US does not have a veto. A vote in support of the resolution there, while not binding, would pave the way for member nations to recognize a Palestinian state. This is a highly charged and controversial matter in the U.S., no more so than for two groups, American Jews and Arab-Americans. The pending resolution is already splitting the American Jewish community, with many actively engaged in efforts to secure a US veto of the Security Council resolution, and some arguing that recognition of a Palestinian state could actually advance the peace process.

Interfaith 'quiet day' and labyrinth walk - A day for quiet reflection will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 10 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1006 3rd. People of all faiths are invited to pray or meditate silently, with no digital devices turned on. Healing prayers will be offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The church's labyrinth will be available for meditative walking and a selection of books are offered for reading. Visitors can also bring their own books or a quiet hobby.

Observances planned - Messages of religious tolerance and unity will be heard throughout South Florida on Sept. 11 when area rabbis and clergy of different faiths come together in programs to remember those who died in the terrorist attacks on the United States on that date 10 years ago.

Amerindian Heritage Month - The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs this evening held its annual interfaith service at the Umana Yana, Kingston to usher in Amerindian Heritage month. Heritage month, this year will be celebrated under theme “Our Culture, Our Heritage, Our Life: A Fusion of Indigenous Diversity”. The service saw the recital of prayers and songs from religious leaders of the Bahai’, Muslim, Hindu and Catholic faiths. The interfaith service was attended by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai, other members of the Cabinet and Government, Members of Parliament and head of international agencies in Guyana.

York Interfaith series explores diverse beliefs - The Rev. Bill Niehaus said he hopes the York Interfaith Dialogue Forum will show people the diversity of the local faith community. The forum is presenting three symposiums that will feature discussions about a total of 12 faith affiliations, said Niehaus, the forum's vice president and co-pastor of San Damian Chapel, an Independent Catholicism congregation in York City. The first of three symposiums will be held 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive in York Township.

Salt Lake County Council to have its first Hindu Invocation - Council of Salt Lake County (Utah, USA), settled in 1847, will reportedly have its first Hindu invocation on September 20. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Eitan Press of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development - For the last several decades, many of the world’s major religions have looked inward to explore what their ancient teachings and ethical systems have to say about people’s relationship with and responsibility to the environment. Now, an organization called theInterfaith Center for Sustainable Development in Israel is bringing these conversations together for a cross-cultural, interfaith look on environmental protection. The reasoning? If two minds are better than one, then many minds (and hearts) are even stronger – especially when it comes to something as important as climate change and a healthy environment.