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1893 Parliament and After

The World Celebrates the First Parliament of Religion

The World Celebrates the First Parliament of Religion

by Marcus Braybrooke

A quarter of a century ago, to celebrate the centenary of the first World Parliament of Religions, 1993 was observed in many parts of the world as a “Year of Inter-religious Understanding and Co-operation.”

Bill and Jean Lesher's Lifetime Interfaith Partnership

Bill and Jean Lesher's Lifetime Interfaith Partnership

by Ruth Broyde Sharone

In the past 30 years of grassroots labor, I’ve occasionally encountered couples as devoted to interfaith activism as they are to one another. Such is the case of Jean and William Lesher, two people who live, breathe, and exemplify what it means to be in partnership and to share a lifelong commitment to the interfaith movement.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions: 1893 and 1993

Contemporary reflections about interreligious institutions and practices commonly highlight an ambitious meeting in Chicago in 1893, termed the World’s Parliament of Religions, as a starting point of the modern interfaith movement.

A Brief History of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions

This brief history is reprinted from the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology edited by William Wildman. This excerpt is the opening section of an entry that also surveys the themes of the Parliament and its legacy. You will find a bibliography there and footnotes for the various quotations.

The Legacy of the 1893 Parliament of the World Religions

The legacy of the 1893 World Parliament of Religions did not live up to the high hopes of its organizers. The dream of a new era of universal peace too soon became the bloody nightmare of twentieth century battlefields and genocide.

Women Provide Prophetic Voices in 1893 – Part 2

Swami Vivekanda’s famous greeting at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, “Sisters and Brothers of America,” brought 7,000 women and men to their feet, clapping “for more than three minutes” before he could resume. But on the platform of speakers, women were a small minority, offering a little more than ten percent of the 200 presentations.

Women Provide Prophetic Voices in 1893 – Part 1

“As Columbus discovered America, the Columbian Exposition in Chicago discovered woman.” This was the optimistic boast of Bertha Palmer (1849-1918), president of the Board of Lady Managers at the Exposition, of which the 1893 World Parliament of Religions was part. She was a businesswoman and philanthropist. The Palmer House, where many participants in the 1993 Parliament stayed, bears her name.

Pan-Asian Participation in the 1893 Parliament

Some Jain friends at the 1993 Parliament of World Religions gave me a booklet with the title We Were There As Well. Too easily the starring role of Swami Vivekananda has obscured the significant contribution that other Asian participants made a hundred years earlier at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, participants who deserve to be remembered.

Crossing the Ocean & Changing the World

The story line is utterly improbable – an unknown, uninvited 30-year-old monk from a small monastic community in India provides the spark which lights the modern interfaith movement at a world fair in Chicago 118 years ago. All true, though, and it gets stranger.