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December 2012

Honoring our Spiritual Foremothers

On November 3, University of Chicago’s magnificent Rockefeller Chapel hosted the inaugural event of the Women’s Task Force at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The evening was dedicated to Bearing the Light: Honoring our Spiritual Foremothers. A gathering of 500 witnessed women representing diverse faiths sharing stories honoring a woman from their spiritual tradition during an evening punctuated by drumming, ethereal chants, and Indian dance.

[“Bearing the Light” at Rockefeller Chapel Photo: 8 Eyes Photography]

Collaborative Peace Groups

In today’s world, one could be easily be made to believe that religion primarily fosters hatred and violence. But the reality is that religious people and organizations have often been at the forefront of interfaith relations and restoring peace in violent regions. On International Day of Peace, HuffPost Religion is proud to share this list of national and international religious organizations that are working to promote peace on local, national and international levels.

Report – World Congress of Religions 2012

The World Congress of Religions 2012 was held in Washington, DC, November 30-December 2, 2012. It celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, honoring his legacy of peacemaking, human rights, ending poverty, and women’s empowerment. Speakers paid homage to Swamiji as a visionary spiritual leader who introduced Eastern religion to the West. His image graced every session, and according to Dr. Pradip Ghosh, chairperson of the Congress, “Swami Vivekananda’s ideals of universal acceptance go a long way to foster peace and harmony among people of different faiths.”

Teaching World Religions for 40 Years

The first class of a new semester is always magical for me: a clean slate, tabula rasa, and new beginning. As I gaze at the students filling the large lecture hall in the Science Math Building at Saddleback Community College, Mission Viejo, in southern California, my stomach rumbles with nervous energy: my 40th year of teaching, but it seems like I am just beginning.

What Light Can Do for Life

On any given day you can make a strong case for feeling bad – the recession, lying politicians, street violence, war, climate change, corruption, starters on a list that goes on and on. The miracle of life, though, is that even in dark times the sources of light insist on themselves like flowers blooming in spring. Sometimes sunshine rules, and we forget the pain and difficulties, captivated by what light can do for life.

Shifting from ‘Millennium’ to ‘Sustainable’ Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted by the United Nations Millennium summit in September, 2000 (). Government leaders from countries around the world agreed to set these goals in order to reduce by half the number of people throughout the world living in extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 per day), and to restore to them dignity and a basic quality of life by 2015. The Millennium Declaration declared: "We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty."

Biologist Explores the Roots of Religion in Trees

Whether churchgoers realize it or not, the trees in their churchyards have religious roots.

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.

Challenging Evangelical Assumptions

Evangelicals face enormous challenges in the pluralistic public square in the 21st century, especially among Muslims. Suspicion and fear of Muslims exist in many quarters as a result of 9/11 and other radical Muslim acts of terror in places like Spain and London and some bad habits about how most of us absorb news. We firmly believe that radical Muslims do not represent the majority of Muslims in the West, who have repeatedly disavowed terrorism. Clearly, most Muslims in the U.S. seek to live out their Muslim faith in ways that affirm and resonate with American values.

Linking Energy Conservation and Faith Communities

Looking out over the audience, I saw that the room was filled with every seat taken and a number of participants standing along the edges. It was a gathering sponsored by the White House office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, attended by more than 150 representatives of widely diverse faith groups and congregations from across the country. Their common interest? Energy savings. A dollar saved [President Obama establishing the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Photo: White House] through energy conservation is a dollar that can be redirected toward more worthwhile ends – of which the various faiths have many.

Love in a Time of War

Here in the mountains of northern New Mexico where I have spent most of life, the winter solstice season is marked by fire. During Advent, families and businesses fill small paper bags with dirt and nestle yellow votive candles inside them. They line the adobe walls around their homes and the low hanging flat rooftops of their shops with these homemade lanterns, called farolitos, and kindle them at sunset. The entire valley glows with tiny golden lights. What began as a Spanish Catholic tradition is now a cherished ritual for our entire multicultural community.

An Interfaith Advent

Advent. ad·vent/’ad,vent/Noun: 1.The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. 2.The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

Looking Back – Interfaith 2012

If you’re an interfaith activist, you may have noticed how the movement is growing exponentially, how our dreams to reach around the world in one giant interfaith embrace are slowly, surely coming true. Globally there is good news (and bad, I’m afraid) coming from all directions.

More Interfaith Spiritual Resources

While there is a rising group of Americans who don’t identify with any religious label, many of them are pursuing spirituality without being boxed into one faith. Historically, spirituality has usually been associated with a specific tradition, but that is changing. Today, for some, interfaith spirituality can mean belonging to more than one faith group. For others it can be observing multiple diverse religious rituals while on your spiritual journey. For others it can be just going on a Sunday morning hike with religiously diverse friends. Whatever your path, here is a list of resources to help you start exploring interfaith spirituality:

2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Brussels Cancelled

Late last month a joint statement was posted cancelling Parliament of the World’s Religions in Brussels, previously scheduled for 2014.