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Archive for the ‘Interfaith’ Category

Weathering Storms + Finding the God In Everything: A Hurricane Sandy Sermonette


by: on November 5th, 2012 | Comments Off

Hurricane Sandy Image c/o Huffington Post

This month has been one of personal, professional, and national shifts, storms, and graces. So much so that I can think of no better way to represent this conflux than by sharing my “sermonette” from last night’s worship service in my young adult ministry program.

In the last 30 days I turned 33, I found some beautiful progress and graces in the world of my ministry work, and struggled at a distance with the pain and tragedy of my home state, New Jersey and our neighboring adjacent-hometown of New York City. I spent my life, at different points, wandering the coastline of the Jersey Shore during summer vacation, hopping through the subway and wandering around the Lower East Side when I cut school as a high schooler (oops!) to sitting in Washington Square Park in between graduate school classes at NYU. Now my middle school in Summit, NJ is a “heating station” and crisis center, the YMCA is where mass showers are being taken, and no one is hopping on the subway to anywhere.

From my personal heart to yours I share the “sermonette” I gave last night to my spiritual seekers in Delray Beach. Blessings and prayers to all who suffer and are lost–in this tragedy and in the world at large. This essay was written for all of you.


Did the Flood Actually Happen?


by: Gabriel Crane on October 12th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Here at Tikkun we receive many advance copies of books from amazing authors, artists, and activists every day. It’s encouraging to encounter the powerful work our peers are engaged in, not to mention inspiring to see the sheer volume of it. Unfortunately, as with most small non-profits, we are stretched pretty thin and often don’t have the time to read or review the vast majority of what comes in.

One book that did catch my eye this week, though, was a title by Gregg Braden, Deep Truth: Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny, and Fate (you can check it out online here). While I haven’t had a chance to read it through all the way, I was fascinated by Braden’s presentation of emerging scientific evidence that suggests our classic understanding of human history, which posits that civilization developed roughly 5,000 years ago out of the “Fertile Crescent” that spans the intersection of Africa and Asia, is incomplete and flawed.


Writing for Change in San Francisco


by: on September 17th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

At first, I was worried that a one-day conference wouldn’t be worth $99 or, at the last minute, $149, but the moment I was welcomed into the Unitarian church on Franklin, I received a nice string backpack containing three new books, all useful, and two, especially valuable. Already I had recouped $60! And there was much more. This is a conference I believe many Tikkun readers would appreciate.

photo by Marty Castleberg

Hawken and the Seattle Protests: Writing That Changes the World

The best moment – Paul Hawken’s speech – came first. It was wonderful to hear that someone hugely successful, the pal of people like Clinton, had shown up in person at the WTO protests in Seattle, an event he felt was grossly misrepresented by the likes of Tom Friedman who opined from a continent away. In response, he wrote a 10,000-word email. He asked for no payment from the publications that accepted it, but wanted them to give up exclusive rights so that it could be freely and widely shared. Eventually, it turned into his latest book, Blessed Unrest, a title that came from Martha Graham’s words:


The Interfaith Triangle


by: on September 6th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

One of my greatest joys in working with Eboo Patel is watching him think. He is the sharpest wit in most of the rooms he enters, and if you manage to catch him with a surprising or unusual question after a public talk or small-group gathering, you can see his mind whirring as he finds not only a meaningful answer, but also a more compelling framework for your question.

In Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Eboo gives us all the gift of seeing him think. It seems apparent that he is in the process of reframing not merely a question, but the premises of the entire interfaith movement, of which he has long been a key part.

The core of his new thinking comes out in his chapter, “The Science of Interfaith Cooperation.” Reflecting humbly on a moment when he found himself unable to respond adequately to a funder’s request for measurable outcomes, he poses a set of questions that the Interfaith Youth Core has already begun answering, and to which all members of the interfaith movement must attend: “How do we measure effectiveness in interfaith work? How do we track progress? What outcomes are we after, and how do we know we are reaching them?”

In response to this question, Eboo looks to quantitative, rather than qualitative evidence — a major shift not in his own personal research and reading, but in his description of the interfaith movement and why it counts. Therein lies a gem, which may in time spawn a transformation within the interfaith movement and how it understands itself: the interfaith triangle. Says Patel,

“The more I studied this area, the more I started to see attitudes, knowledge, and relationships as three sides of a triangle. If you know some (accurate and positive) things about a religion, and you know some people from that religion, you are far more likely to have positive attitudes toward that tradition and that community. The more favorable your attitude, the more open you will be to new relationships and additional appreciative knowledge. A couple of cycles around this triangle, and people from different faiths are starting to smile at each other on the streets instead of looking away or crossing to the other side.”


Weathering Storms and Yearning For Deserts: How to Prepare for Hurricane America


by: on September 1st, 2012 | 5 Comments »

File:Isaac Aug 27 2012 1855Z.jpg

Hurricane Isaac Image c/o NASA

The Desert Fathers and Mothers of Christianity existed in a time in flux. The cultured society was now under the reign of Constantine who had legalized Christianity and taken the religion out of a space of persecution and into the mainstream. With that freedom came complication and often compromise–out of the shadows, now, Christianity had access to things like hierarchy, power, and wealth, for better and, most usually, for worse.

The Desert Fathers and Mothers were persons who saw no way to keep the purity of faith inside the construct of a “civilized society.” They moved away from the cities, into the desert land of Egypt and formed a monastic culture based on the tenets they felt their religion was built on, and which they were seeing less and less of in the empire. Out of this alternate society and faith community came some of the most intimate and profound texts of Christianity–and some of the most unknown or forgotten.

It is hard to exist outside the walls of society and still contribute to it on a large scale–but sometimes big is not always better and profundity has value which fame can never quite capture.


Leavening and The Oneness of God: Spiritual + Cultural Paradigm Shifts


by: on August 20th, 2012 | 2 Comments »


In my last article I discussed The Wild Goose Festival as a paradigm shift. Now I want to explore the shift in a greater, and lengthier context as I lead into describing (in coming articles) the way it is informing and being informed by a larger global culture, a larger spiritual and religious culture, and shifts within all which also lead to increased conversations within and outside of all current contexts of identity. We are restructuring the world, in tiny steps so small that it is often hard to see at the micro-level.

I think the greatest piece of this is the understanding that there is something bigger and better in God than we ever before conceptualized. We are beginning to see that within “my Christianity,” “my Judaism,” “my Islam,” “my Buddhism” there is a small sliver of God we are allowed to see, illuminated both through our own personal sacred texts and our visceral experiences of God in relationship to the faith we have learned (or as I sometimes call it, “faith of origin”). The second half to this is that we are realizing that my sliver of God-light and your sliver of God-light emanate from the same source and that saying that is no longer easily poo-pooed as heretical within my tradition but enhancing the basis of my traditional understanding with a God greater than we have ever been able to see or frame in our world-view before.

We are able to see that God can be many things to many people and to say that doesn’t make me a heretical Christian but makes me a Christian able to see God’s light from many different angles–like a prism refracting and dividing the sun’s light and sending it outward in millions of different directions.


The Wild Goose Festival + A Spiritual/Cultural Paradigm Shift


by: on August 18th, 2012 | Comments Off


Left to right: Richard Rohr, attendees dancing, Brian McLaren. Credit: Wild Goose Festival Website (www.wildgoosefestival.org).

I have been watching, with rapt envy, the many blog posts, articles, photos and videos filling the virtual airwaves since the Wild Goose Festival closed its second year this past June. A conglomerate of issues (scheduling, funding, timing) kept me from attending but next year it is already locked in on my calendar.

The Wild Goose Festival launched last year, after five years in the planning and making of it, with over 1,000 attendees camping out in Shakori Hills, NC, for an event meant to intersect faith, justice, art, and music in a very particular way. While there are great teachers from all faith traditions (predominantly Christian but increasingly more persons from other faith traditions and no faith tradition are joining the conversation) who present in their own faith areas of expertise the festival is also an organic grassroots experience where speakers step down off their stages and into the crowds for community discussions on the subject matter. It is a live thing, this festival, not just entertaining but engaging and creating in each moment of the community experience.


Jewish-Christian Dialogue: The Nuns Versus the Bishops


by: on June 5th, 2012 | 10 Comments »

Photo Courtesy of Nun Justice

Much has been written about the ongoing assault by the male Catholic hierarchy on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, as well as individual women religious whose writings have been deemed “erroneous.” Non-Catholics might be inclined to dismiss this as merely an internal church issue. However, there are important implications for interfaith conversation between Jews and Christians that have not been as widely considered.

In its most stark terms, the women religious have largely embodied what I call the “religion of creation” while the bishops speak from within the “religion of empire.” These labels point to what I’ve shown in my recent book, Come Out, My People!: God’s Call Out of Empire In the Bible and Beyond, to be the two, competing religions in the Hebrew Bible. The “religion of empire” seeks to claim divine authority for systems of domination and hierarchy, where violence is used to establish “peace” and to quell resistance. The “religion of creation,” on the other hand, claims God’s support for egalitarian social relationships of mutual respect and participation. Jesus took up the religion of creation as the authentic expression of God’s purposes for humanity and creation, rejecting the religion of empire as a demonic counterfeit. Because of this, the upholders of the religion of empire – both within the Jerusalem temple establishment and the Roman Empire – found him intolerable and conspired to put him to death.


The Role of Faith in Fostering Hope and Unity


by: Emily Goldberg on May 10th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Participants work on a team-building activity at an interfaith conference in Malaysia. / Courtesy of United Religious Initiative

“Religion does three things quite effectively: divides people, controls people, deludes people.” – Mary Alice McKinney

Today, if you were to check the top headlines of any publications, you would come across the latest havocs and horrifying events that have occurred in our “progressive” society. Varying from murders, economic instability, and words of pure hatred, newspapers cover and print stories that remind us that there is plenty more work needed to be done in our communities. Many would assume that in the evolving world in which we live, miscommunication and prejudice would naturally lessen with time.

This has not been the case.

Some consider religion to be the ultimate blame for all the negative media surrounding us. Others have blatantly stated that religion is the underlying source behind divergence and strife, the cause of all the wars worldwide. Unfortunately, the spite people feel toward religion and theology has not only enhanced the lack of unity among us, but also created the walls and boundaries that prevent us from ever overcoming this intolerance.

I view life differently. I think religion is beautiful – when viewed in an optimistic light.


Sacred Snapshots Brings a Justice-Seeking Connection to the Holy


by: on April 17th, 2012 | Comments Off

On Saturday, April 21, Sacred Snapshots, a day-long Sampler for the Spirit, will invite participants to experience the divine, celebrate spiritual practices from a range of religions and traditions at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Whether exploring religion in pop culture, engaging 12-step spirituality, or experiencing Hindu ritual, attendees will create a multi-religious, multicultural and international community for one day. Rumi wrote that “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” and at Sacred Snapshots, you will have the chance to try at least a dozen.