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Bettina Gray

"Who Isn't at the Table?"

"Who Isn't at the Table?"

by Bettina Gray and Paul Andrews

Periodically TIO profiles seasoned leaders who have made critical contributions to a developing interfaith culture but are unknown to most people. Rev. P. Gerard O’Rourke is one such pioneer.

Yom Kippur on the Train to St. Petersburg

Yom Kippur on the Train to St. Petersburg

by Bettina Gray

On October 12th of this year, I was on a train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg traveling with members of the Slavyanka Russian Chorus on a concert tour of Russia.That particular morning a number of us were standing in the aisles or sitting on the arms of train seats, rocking between concert locations. We were saying the Ashamnu prayer, the prayer of confession and atonement for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar.

Why is the Parliament of the World’s Religions Important?

Anyone who has attended one or more of the modern Parliaments (starting with the 1993 centennial celebration in Chicago) comes away with a multitude of stories and new friendships. Being with thousands of interfaith activists, by itself, tends to change your perspective on the world. TIO asked leaders from the interfaith movement to share with us briefly what they think is important about the Parliament of the World’s Religions. For a longer response, see Marcus Braybrooke’s reflection in this TIO on attending all the modern Parliaments.

Finding Light in the Darkness

The best of music and theater transport us somewhere outside our own particular time and place, even beyond our own cultural and religious coordinates. By allowing us outside our own boundaries, they offer a chance for fresh insight and inspiration. Susan Stein’s one-woman play “Etty,” directed by Austin Pendleton, does just that. In this Amnesty International Award nominated play, actress Stein introduces us to a most remarkable and spiritually inquisitive young Dutch Jewish woman of the early 1940s. Drawn entirely from the dairies and letters of Etty Hillesum, we experience a remarkable kind of theater-as-time-travel.

Remembering Rev. Dr. Charles White, 1937-2013

On These Shoulders

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]

“Interfaith 3.0” from the Outside

In the December 2011 issue of The Interfaith Observer, Bettina Gray wrote about the recent changes in the interfaith movement. Her piece is impressive and inspiring, an optimistic view of our interfaith future. She wrote as one with significant experience and a long history in interfaith work; but she also wrote from the perspective of someone embedded in the “mainstream” religions that have dominated interfaith work since its beginnings. Once restricted to Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), the administrative core of interfaith work gradually expanded to include the other two members – Buddhism and Hinduism – of what have been called “the big five” religions.

What Excites Me about Interfaith Work?

This article grew out of a presentation Bettina Gray made at a meeting of interfaith leaders attending the November 2011 meetings of the American Academy of Religions/Society of Biblical Literature. The session focused on innovative interfaith activity and was organized by the Coexist Foundation.