By Paul Chaffee
More than 300 writers with a passion for interfaith culture have made TIO what it is today – a monthly treasure-chest of interfaith news and opinion. Representatives of dozens of religious and spiritual traditions, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds have generously, freely contributed their work. You can find photos and short bios of each one here. More than 1,000 articles have been published in the past four years, testimony to the import of the interfaith culture emerging all over the world.
Special kudos go to our TIO Correspondents, gifted writers from different sectors of the interfaith universe who each month contribute informative and compelling articles. From our first year this included Marcus Braybrooke and Ruth Broyde Sharone, and now a third Correspondent has emerged, Vicki Garlock.
Rev. Dr. Braybrooke is commonly acknowledged as the historian of the interfaith movement. His Pilgrimage of Hope: One Hundred Years of Global Interfaith Dialogue (1992) is a must-read for anyone interested in interfaith history. Forty more books explore a host of interfaith issues. He is president of the World Congress of Faiths, co-founded the UK’s Three Faiths Forum, and is patron of the International Interfaith Centre at Oxford. His willingness to contribute as a TIO Correspondent is a special blessing. (He confesses, though, that this month he and Mary are vacationing in “the remote parts of Scotland,” far from smart-phones and the Internet. He’ll be back next month writing about the history of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.)
Ruth Broyde Sharone may be the most passionate grassroots volunteer for interfaith culture on the planet. Ruth is a film-maker (God and Allah Need to Talk) and has written a memoire titled Minefields & Miracles, detailing her interfaith activities around the world.
Her first story for TIO, back in October 2011, was titled Torah, Sequined Saris, Chapattis, and Peace, a remarkable tale of celebrating Rosh Hashana in central India.
At the local level Ruth pioneered organizing interfaith Seders in the Los Angeles Basin, has been a leader in a Jewish-Muslim women’s group for more than a decade, and has helped establish a number of interfaith organizations in southern California and is co-chair of the Southern California Parliament of the World's Religions. Fluent in Spanish, she has been a central link between interfaith activities north and south of the U.S.-Mexican border and is a regular contributor to the interfaith festivals organized by the Carpe Diem Foundation in Guadalajara.
Now comes Vicki Garlock. TIO is always looking for new interfaith arenas, and Dr. Garlock is way out front in her passion for authentic interfaith religious/spiritual education for kids. The only mention of interreligious education for children in the mainline media usually involves interfaith marriages and problem-solving. (A refreshing exception is Susan Katz Miller, who wrote Being Both.)
Vicki brings extraordinary credentials for exploring interfaith learning for youngsters. Her doctorate at the University of Alabama was in neuroscience and cognitive development. For a dozen years she taught child development, biopsychology, and learning/cognition. Today she writes a blog called Faith Seeker Kids, dedicated to “helping churches and families bring interfaith education to life.” And she is a curriculum specialist at Jubilee! Community Church in Ashville, North Carolina, a progressive interfaith-friendly congregation that supports her work with their children in a robust interfaith curriculum.
On a monthly basis this past year, Vicki has been shining a light on children’s faith formation from an interfaith perspective, attending particularly to what seems constructive and healthy for the children themselves. Her story this month is about kids and Ramadan, which starts this week on June 17. Eid Mubarak!
Welcome Vicki, and kudos to you and Marcus and Ruth for your informative, provocative, and inspiring contributions. We are all in your debt. Thank you!