By Paul Chaffee
As the one who compiles the “Interfaith News Roundup” (the stories of note found in TIO’s monthly aggregation), my sense is that mid-year 2015 is actually a relief, better than we have any right to expect. Bad news still abounds, particularly religiously related conflict and severely constricted religious freedom for millions. But a new cascade of nightmare stories didn’t show up again this month. The tragic exception was the terrible murder of nine people attending Bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, casting the shadow of racist terrorism across the year. A silver lining was how it evoked one of Barrack Obama’s most powerful speeches, one that will go down in American history. (You’ll find text and video links in the Roundup.)
The June and July ‘potpourri’ approach at TIO opens the door to any and all interfaith subjects. This month you’ll find everything from Richard Cizik’s report of a recent interfaith Iranian mission to Nadya Pohran’s analysis of Jainism’s ancient doctrine of anekantavada, which I take to be the most important neglected religious idea in human history.
Two major good-news interfaith stories have surfaced this year. Most important is the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, a clarion call from the most respected religious leader alive. In the Roundup you’ll find links to Francis-inspired stories generated around the world from both religious and secular communities concerned about what is happening to the Earth on humankind’s watch.
The other big 2015 interfaith story is the October 15-19 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City. (You can find out the details about attending in TIO’s Opportunities.) More than 5,500 have registered, with several thousand more expected by the time people arrive in Utah. Pre-Parliament events are popping up around the world.
TIO features three articles this month to help you prepare for this Parliament: a brief but detailed story of the 1893 Parliament in Chicago that launched the contemporary interfaith movement; a personal reflection from Marcus Braybrooke, who has attended all the modern Parliaments; and brief reflections from interfaith leaders today on why the Parliament is such an important occasion for anyone committed to a healthy, robust interfaith culture for our children and grandchildren. And yes, you still have time to register.
A reminder – TIO does not publish in August, though subscribers will receive our annual letter inviting you to help ensure TIO’s future with a modest gift. Thanks for reading!