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September 2015

The First Public School in the Country to Require a World Religions Course

From the differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims, to the Hindu values invoked by India’s BJP party, to Biblical allusions that saturate American political rhetoric, survey data shows Americans know almost nothing about religion.

Faiths for Earth Campaign Launched

Warm greetings.

The Soul of Men in the Hearts of Women

I’ve been searching for God for most of my life in one way, in one form or another. I write about women’s spirituality, lead transformational retreats for women, and am an art therapist. I’ve literally made God my business. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to grow “The Magic,” the immanent, intimate, purposeful expression of the Divine within my own heart and the heart of the world.

Training Interfaith Leaders for the Future

“Say you wake up one morning and as you’re going through your Twitter feed you see something that really ticks you off because it degrades a certain group of people. You can Tweet all your friends about it, post something on Facebook, take a selfie of you burning the article. You can send a campus-wide Tweet and email about meeting in the dining hall at noon to discuss an action plan. You have one person contact the president, another person get in touch with the events office, another other clubs, the geeky guy in the corner (that would be me) making a flyer and deciding the best phrase to use in the Twitter hashtag, and by 6 p.m. you have an event planned to address the issue.

An Education Centered on Wisdom

We should be afraid when people start measuring education by its functional value. I tremble a little when I read about the need for “21st century skills” or the increasing necessity of a college degree for achieving middle class status. I feel anxious because I work with children every day, and they never seem very concerned about whether they are becoming “competitive in the global marketplace.” (If they ever do start showing concern, it may be my signal to find a new career.)

Developing Interfaith Education, Starting with the Heart

Compounding the growing global refugee crisis, news this summer suggests the possibility of leaving behind a generation of Arab youth who have lost their schools and universities to war. Rob kids of their education and beware the consequences. Globally, of course, this horror extends far beyond Arabs and should serve as a wake-up call to educators everywhere about education and the future.

Finding Reliable Interfaith Educational Resources

Scarboro Missions is a Canadian Roman Catholic Mission Society located in Toronto. Its Interfaith Department published a Golden Rule poster 15 years ago, which included versions of the GR from 13 religious traditions. To date, the poster has been translated into more than 20 languages and imitated by numerous groups. The most recent translation is into the ancient language of Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, spoken by 17.5 million. It was translated by Mussie Hailu, who is circulating 200,000 copies of the poster. Mussie, a leading interfaith activist in Africa, has circulated half a million English-version Golden Rule posters throughout the continent. Around the world, Golden Rule posters can be found posted in school rooms, community centers, sanctuaries, internet sites, and homes around the world – a clear candidate for the most useful interfaith resource ever published.

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.

Storytelling – It’s Not Just for Grown-Ups

Everyone loves a story. A child, recently-bathed with teeth brushed and damp hair drying into awkward tufts on a bedtime pillow … a professional, dressed in business casual at a boring conference presentation in a midtown hotel … an aging parent, lying in a nursing home bed no longer able to walk easily or remember the date. Age, disposition, and the surrounding context are irrelevant. Human brains perk up as soon as a narrative begins. Stories fascinate and engage, transcending time and place in way few other mediums can. Maybe this is why myths and legends hold such a special place in all faith traditions and why story-sharing has become an important component of multifaith exploration.

A Bible-Based, Interfaith Sunday School Curriculum

Faith, then, is a quality of human living. At its best it has taken the form of serenity and courage and loyalty and service: a quiet confidence and joy which enable one to feel at home in the universe, and to find meaning in the world and in one’s own life, a meaning that is profound and ultimate, and is stable no matter what may happen to oneself at the level of immediate event.

Grassroots Interfaith Education Goes Global

The boarding school for missionary children in northern India that I attended 50 years ago was about seven miles across mountain roads from a new school for refugee Tibetans streaming out of their war-torn homeland. The Indian government provided the buildings, CARE packages helped clothe the kids, and food was found. But they had no teachers. So, as young Tibetan Buddhists who had lost their parents, they used the tools at their disposal to start their education.

A New Model for Teaching Children Religious Tolerance

Every morning at the Kaleidoscoop School (“kaleidoscope” in English) in the small town of Zeewolde, The Netherlands, children gather to light a candle and pray, or not, for themselves, those close to them, and the world. There is no compulsion or exclusion when it comes to prayer or belief in this interconfessional school, with roughly a quarter Protestant, a quarter Catholic, and half atheist, agnostic, or non-denominational students. While the school teaches children ages 4 through 12 the basic subjects as its first priority, it is within an open and non-dogmatic environment.

Elizabethtown Initiating a Major in Interfaith Leadership

Inspired by a national call from Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel, Elizabethtown College is the first in the United States to offer a major in interfaith leadership studies (ILS). The major, confirmed by Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core to be the first, is heavily supported by Patel, who has been a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.

Exploding the Myths

Using common sense to halt our perilous drift, Pope Francis snaps us back to our senses with a stunning reality check. His pointed comments in the encyclical Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, pierce the bubbles of contemporary “wisdom” to restore our true values to their rightful place.

Report: NAIN Goes to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Regina is a community of 210,000 set on the vast prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada nearly 500 miles from the nearest big city. To call it a hotbed of interfaith activity would court disbelief if you didn’t know better. But on July 19-22, Regina hosted the North American Interfaith Network’s 2015 NAINConnect, an annual event begun in 1988 that brings together grassroots interfaith activists deeply engaged in their local communities. Small communities like Craik, in Saskatchewan, population 453.