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Temple of Understanding

Rio+ 20: After the Speeches, the Work Begins

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon commented that after the speeches, the work begins. He has it right: after the speeches of the Rio+20 conference, the work charges civil society to insist on changes. Governments will not solve the environmental crisis for us. This massive international conference was a once-in-a-decade opportunity. The outcome document, [Secretary General BanKi-Moon at Rio+20] a product of months of negotiations dominated by nationalistic political interests, is far from revolutionary. To change our course away from environmental devastation we need more than a revolution.

Women & Spirituality at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

On a rainy afternoon in late February 2012, a dozen women gather in a room of a hotel near the United Nations headquarters in New York. They are activists representing women’s organizations from across the U.S. and the world, and they come rooted in diverse spiritual and religious traditions. They are participants in the 56th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), attracted to our particular conversation by an informal grassroots invitation to join in celebrating women’s spiritual leadership and the Divine Feminine at the next Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Religion’s New Face in the World

All of Heckman’s categories deserves attention and will find their way into The Interfaith Observer. Before concluding this overview, though, consider one other category – “Social issue(s) and action groups.” Dozens of social justice causes – immigration rights, the death penalty, economic reform, environmental responsibility, peace in the Middle East, and many more – organize as interfaith nonprofits.

International Interfaith Stakeholders Today

In last month’s TIO, Marcus Braybrooke wrote a brief history of the interfaith movement since 1893. He tells how major interfaith organizations emerged in the twentieth century, starting with the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), whose roots go back to 1900. The World Congress of Faiths, celebrating its 75th birthday this year, was the first established organization to invite all people of faith and practice to a shared table of dialogue in the “spirit of fellowship.” Both IARF and the Congress remain active international organizations, a tribute to the resilience of their hope for a happier religious future.

Temple of Understanding

The Temple of Understanding was founded in 1960 by a pioneering visionary, Juliet Hollister. With the help of Eleanor Roosevelt’s introductory letters, Juliet traveled the world to seek endorsement from heads of state and religious leaders. The TOU convened Spiritual Summits abroad (Calcutta 1968; Geneva 1970) of high level religious leaders and at prominent universities: Harvard (’71), Princeton, (’71), Cornell (’74). Mrs. Roosevelt encouraged the TOU to become accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the United Nations.

Consultation for U.N. by The Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization

On October 19, the Temple of Understanding in New York City brought together leaders of international interfaith organizations and other eminent visionaries. Their mandate was to form an advisory council for the Interfaith Consortium for an Ecological Civilization (ICEC), a new committee developed by the Temple of Understanding and other organizations in connection with the United Nations Environment Programme.

Seeding the Interfaith Movement

Most of the hundreds of interfaith ventures emerging globally are independent non-governmental organizations, usually called nonprofits in the United States. Several types of organizations predominate, the subject of this issue of TIO.

The $100,000 Question in the Interfaith Movement

How do we know when we have arrived in the interfaith movement?  When religious pluralism is normative?  When religious differences don’t cause conflict or even concern?

A Dream That Is Contagious

Once after a lecture on the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, I was asked by a sleepy student, ‘Were you there yourself?’ No one, I assume, who was at the 1993 Parliament of World Religions (note the slight change of name) had been in Chicago, a hundred years before. Yet because of its continuing influence, it is worthwhile to glance back to the pioneers of the interfaith pilgrimage. I can remember my own excitement when, looking in the library for another book, I chanced on Barrows’ two volume record of that historic event.

The Legacy of Juliet Hollister

Sometimes the most amazing events are the most improbable. How, during a lunch of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, did a spark ignite a movement that to this day grows and travels around the world? That is exactly what happened when Juliet Hollister, a housewife and mother of three, while having lunch with a friend, was commiserating over the dire state of the world. Her friend suddenly suggested that someone should bring the leaders of the world’s religions together to work towards peace. A flash of inspiration went off in Juliet’s heart and mind. From that moment on, magical things seemed to happen around Juliet and her “Wonderful Obsession,” a name coined by the Time-Life Magazine article about her, published in 1962.