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As Time Goes By


As Time Goes By

by Paul Chaffee

The modern Parliament of the World’s Religions is 25 years old this year, and TIO’s theme this month is “Preparing for the Toronto Parliament,” to be held November 1-7. Organizationally, mounting a Parliament – with dozens of plenary presenters, hundreds of workshops, thousands of participants, and a multitude of special activities – is a mind-numbingly immense and complex project.

For those who attend, it can be life-transforming. First-timers tend to be astounded, and old-timers revel in seeing old friends, making new ones, and discerning the future of interfaith in the world. Kudos to the Chicago staff, the Toronto team, and the army of volunteers who always make such a difference!

TIO marks its own birthday this month, seven years after the first issue posted. More than 1500 articles from more than 400 contributors have begun to sketch the shape of an emerging global interreligious culture. With a tiny budget, it has mostly been a labor of love in an arena where tragic realities and engaging stories of hope for humankind and the Earth emerge each day.

How one sustains a ‘labor of love’ over the long haul has been preoccupying the TIO team for several years. So it was with great appreciation last month that we welcomed being institutionally adopted by The Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha, Nebraska, smack in the center of the United States. You should have a received a letter with some of the detail. It professionalizes and adds infrastructure to this modest publishing effort, without which TIO would fade away. Thank you Tri-Faith!

Some have wondered why an Abrahamic organization would adopt a radically inclusive interfaith journal, not knowing that Tri-Faith’s leadership has a high level commitment to interfaith culture in the broadest sense of that word.  

I wondered myself about the strength of that commitment. I was reassured on hearing report of Tri-Faith leaders commenting appreciatively regarding a number of recent TIO articles about welcoming Pagans, Humanists, and other marginalized traditions to the interfaith table. Bottom line: TIO’s editorial perspective is thriving in this institutional context. Also, as an interfaith veteran, it seems to me a totally appropriate development for an Abrahamic organization to lead toward more serious dialogue with other traditions, something that is too often absent on the Jewish-Christian-Muslim agenda.

Photo:    Pexels

Photo: Pexels

On a practical level, it means that TIO’s look and feel and openness next month – when the theme will be ‘digital interfaith’ – will be much like the publication you’re used to.

Meanwhile, we really do want your input and will be sending out a survey in a few weeks to give us your critique and suggestions about TIO. In advance let me thank you for responding!

This month’s issue continues TIO’s long-standing coverage of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Taken together, these stories put flesh on the bones of history, tell personal stories about why getting together with several thousand interfaith activists from around the world is so invigorating and useful for the cause. Some of you, I hope, will be encouraged to register and head to Toronto. Even if that’s impossible, feel free in these pages to vicariously enjoy what happens at gatherings like this one.

Header Photo: Pxhere