The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

One Nation, One Chicago Strives for Interfaith Understanding 8 August , 2011

Utsav Ghandi didn’t know that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who devours news cycles like a landlocked tiger shark, recently created an Office of New Americans. The office has elicited scant interest in the local press, but the advice of Mr. Ghandi, a chemical engineering student at Illinois Institute of Technology, who arrived a year ago from Mumbai, is succinct.

“Focus on those 12 to, say, 19 years old, the age when they may be most confused about a new world of America,” he said.

Mr. Ghandi, 19, is worth hearing out because of his status as a new immigrant and his involvement in a project called One Chicago, One Nation. Its aim is to improve understanding among the metro area’s various faiths and cultures, especially its estimated 400,000 Muslims. By some counts, that is the largest Muslim concentration in the nation.

One Chicago, One Nation is the product of a post-Sept. 11 effort called One Nation and is largely financed by $200,000 from George F. Russell Jr. of Tacoma, Wash., creator of the Russell 2000 stock index. His aim was to create positive images of a much-caricatured and maligned Muslim population in the United States.



Dalai Lama speaks to an interfaith audience in Chicago 25 July , 2011

We’re all sentient beings desiring peace and happiness, the Dalai Lama repeated often during a panel discussion on “Bridging the Faith Divide” in Chicago Monday. “Nobody wakes up and thinks, ‘Today I should have more problems,’” he laughed.

While his message is simple, it has political and social implications, the panel shared.

Moderated by Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel (see “Have faith in our youth”), the panel consisted of American interfaith leaders along with his Holiness, who seemed more interested in listening than speaking. “I have nothing to say,” the Dalai Lama said to laughter when Patel asked him for his closing remarks.

Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of that Nation Council of Churches of Christ-USA, shared the importance of building relationships across faith communities to counter fringe elements in every community that want to fight each other. “If either side wins, we’re all in trouble,” she said.

Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, developed on this theme, saying he feels he has more in common with people whose worldview is based on love and generosity, regardless of religion, than he does with fellow Jews who focus on fear. Lerner urged the very receptive audience to join his Network of Spiritual Progressives or another group to find support for the work of compassion.



His Holiness Highlights Importance of Interfaith Dialogue 20 July , 2011

Chicago, Illinois, 18 July 2011 – On his last day of this two-city current tour of the United States, on July 18, 2011 morning, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in a dialogue with interfaith leaders in a session entitled, Building Bridges: Religious Leaders In Conversation With The Dalai Lama. Hosted by the Theosophical Society and held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago, it was attended by a sold-out crowd of 1500 people.

Theosophical Society President Tim Boyd introduced His Holiness to the audience. He recalled the visit of His Holiness to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in America, located in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1981. He said His Holiness had given a talk at a local school then but not many students knew who he was. Since then things have changed greatly, Mr. Boyd said adding that His Holiness has now become one of the most recognized and the most respected persons in the world. Mr. Boyd said that His Holiness’s continued call for adherence to the universal qualities to bring change to human hearts and minds have made him one of the greatest teachers in the world.



Dalai Lama, Religious Leaders Seek Common Ground 19 July , 2011

Three religious scholars reflected upon oneness, humanity and compassion with His Holiness the 14thDalai Lama on Monday, capping the Tibetan spiritual leader’s fifth visit to Chicago.

The rabbi, pastor and Muslim scholar shared their thoughts with the Dalai Lama before a sold-out crowd at Harris Theater for Music and Dance inMillennium Park. Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core after an encounter with the Dalai Lama 13 years ago, moderated the panel.

Each religious leader shared how values of other religious traditions, namely Buddhism, had enriched their own spiritual journey. For example, RabbiMichael Lerner, activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, talked about not letting attachment to reality discourage him from seeking ideals.




Religion As A Bridge To Understanding, Not A Bomb Of Destruction: An Interview With Eboo Patel (VIDEO) 27 June , 2011

Filed under: Interfaith Issues,Video — wfamyl @ 4:47 pm
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On religion and public Space 20 June , 2011

When a suicide bomb exploded as worshippers left New Year’s mass at a Coptic church in Alexandria, 21 people died and 79 were wounded. It’s hard to imagine a more grim, ghastly, or tragic way to ring in a new decade.

But during Coptic Christmas later that month, Egyptian Muslims formed a human wall around the church, ensuring peaceful worship and demonstrating the utmost respect for their Christian compatriots. In an act of equal loyalty, Egyptian Christians formed a human chain around Muslims during Friday prayers in Tahrir Square during the mass demonstrations in February.

What can we make of this? Rev. Jim Wallis, a leading progressive Evangelical voice in America, has a saying: “God is personal, but never private.” By imagining religion only as a private affair, we ignore the important public elements of faith — whether it means garnering strength from prayer during times of chaos or living out religious convictions by protecting others so they can practice freely.

The truth is each of the world religions call us to engage with one another in public ways, whether it is to house the homeless, feed the hungry, or steward the earth. No matter how we envision heaven, it’s hard to find a religion or philosophical tradition that doesn’t call followers to contribute to our common life here on earth. In taking up this charge religion cannot help but appear in our public square.



An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion 14 June , 2011

CHICAGO — For a guy who is only 35 and lives in a walk-up apartment, Eboo Patel has already racked up some impressive accomplishments.

A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, he has four honorary degrees. His autobiography is required freshman reading on 11 college campuses. He runs a nonprofit organization — the Interfaith Youth Core — with 31 employees and a budget of $4 million. And he was tapped by the White House as a key architect of an initiative announced in April by President Obama.




Two Minutes Of Wisdom With Eboo Patel (VIDEO) 13 June , 2011

Filed under: Interfaith Issues,Video — wfamyl @ 4:43 pm
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Eboo Patel: The President’s Campus Interfaith Initiative 18 March , 2011

President Obama has made interfaith cooperation a priority from the beginning — literally. In his inaugural address, he said:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

It has been a thread through several of his other speeches.

At the National Prayer breakfast in February 2009, he said: “The particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.”



From Egypt to America: a new age of idealism 28 February , 2011

Princeton, NJ There’s an electric energy amongst the hundred or so student interfaith leaders gathered at theComing Together conference at Princeton University: people their age, doing the things they do, just accomplished what most experts and analysts considered impossible as recently as a month ago.

This is the new generation of American idealists. Each one is worth more than a thousand armchair analysts. Those guys specialize in pondering the present, convincing us how similar tomorrow is going to be to today. These kids are building the future. READ MORE