Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pluralism Summer Week 8: Society of Friends (Quaker)

laura headshotNext up in our summer of “religion and politics” is Laura Magnani from the Quaker tradition. Laura is director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Bay Area Healing Justice Program in California and has worked on criminal justice issues for over 35 years. She wrote “America’s First Penitentiary: A 200 Year Old Failure in 1990” and co-authored the AFSC publication, “Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System” in 2006. She is also a  nationally known expert on solitary confinement. We are honored to have her as a speaker in our summer series.

A few words about First United:effc5190d0f805a4130997d6703a5eef

Our 5:00 service is decidedly interspiritual. This means that, while we are rooted in the
Christian tradition, we beleive that  spirituality is at the heart of all the world religions. This shared spiritual heritage enables us to go beyond the differences in our theological beliefs and traditions. In other words: all are welcome!

Pluralism Summer is an initiative of First United Lutheran Church, a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.

We believe that, as theologian Hans Kung wrote:
“There will be no peace among the nations until there is peace among the religions.  There will be no peace among the religions until there is dialogue among the religions.”

We believe our wisdom will only be enhanced by continued conversation with all of our neighbors. Together we work for peace, justice, and the good of all people and all creation.

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Turkey and the Gülen Movement

I couldn’t agree more These are the folks who, among other things, are our partners in our Muslim/Christian book study and co-hosts of the annual interfaith iftar.

News & Notes

Turkish flagNews reports from Turkey have noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly blamed the Hizmet (“Service”) movement and its exiled leader Fethullah Gülen for being a “shadow” subversive organization, and the instigators of the recent attempted coup. Erdogan has declared a state of emergency, arrested thousands of Turkish citizens, including Gülen’s nephew, and called for the closure of 1,043 private schools, 1,229 charities and foundations, 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions over suspected links to the Gulen movement.

Those of us, however, who have known and worked for many years with local members of the Hizmet movement remain highly skeptical about Erdogan’s motives and characterization of Gülen and the movement. Hizmet is a loosely-organized movement comprising hundreds of local groups who have devoted themselves to service in the best sense- education, multicultural relationship-building and emergency relief projects serving disaster victims, the homeless, the hungry, and beyond…

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Pluralism Summer Week 7: Archbishop Franzo King

st_john_coltrane_fmivnlThe Church of St. John Coltrane was in the news a while back because of the loss of their worship space on Fillmore Street. No one was sure where they would go or if this unique expression of spirituality and worship would be lost. Thankfully, in April, they took up residence along with us at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. They join, not only 10155866_10153102768389325_6707118149508077725_nFirst United and St. Cyprian’s, but also Sophia in Trinity (the Roman Catholic Womanpriest congregation) and Middle Circle (First United’s outreach to the spiritually independent).

The corner of Turk & Lyon has become quite the  eclectic center!125

This Sunday, we are delighted to have as our guest speaker Archbishop Franzo W. King, co-founder of The Church of St. John Coltrane and presently Archbishop of the African Orthodox Church-Jurisdiction West. He is also a founding Member of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

This will undoubtedly be a highlight in our summer series!
And, as always, regardless of what you believe or don’t believe, all are welcome.

 

Pluralism Summer is an initiative of First United Lutheran Church, a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.

We believe that, as theologian Hans Kung wrote:
“There will be no peace among the nations until there is peace among the religions.  There will be no peace among the religions until there is dialogue among the religions.”

We believe our wisdom will only be enhanced by continued conversation with all of our neighbors. Together we work for peace, justice, and the good of all people and all creation.

 

The Intrafaith Conversation in Mexico

NAINConnect16Well, it’s over. The 28th annual gathering of the North American Interfaith Network at the Convento Esclavas de Cristo Rey in Guadalajara was the first (and hopefully not the last) NAIN Connect in Mexico.

The theme was “Sacred Space” and much attention was rightly given to the indigenous people of Mexico. But there were other expressions of sacred space – both internal and external. I myself was privileged to lead a workshop on creating safe and sacred space in which intrafaith conversations can happen.

My wshe likes itorkshop was on Tuesday, but on Monday I got some great publicity. During the discussion at a workshop on interfaith hospitality, someone spoke up and said, “What we really need to have is an intrafaith dialogue.” I almost jumped out of my seat as I raised my  hand to jump in and tell everyone about the opportunity to do just that – and buy the book as well!

Going in, I had no idea how many religions might be represented. This was my first venture with a potentially interfaith group. It turned out that the group was largely Christian, with a smattering of Buddhists, Religious Science adherents, a Jewish/Buddhist, and a “none.”

I started off with a personal intrafaith story. Then I shared a resource I had  just learned at the hospitality workshop: The Differences Between Dialogue and Debate. This was part of the presentation about how to create a safe space for difficult dialogue to happen – and we all agreed that these can be very difficult conversations for us to be part of. Too often our buttons get pushed and our “non-anxious presence” (I prefer “non-reactive presence”) goes out the window.

IMG_4605Then we broke into small groups and everyone got a chance to share their own stories and struggles with members of their own tradition. Finally, we  began to strategize about how to create an intrafaith conversation when we got back home.

IMG_4606I don’t know if anyone will do that. But I believe that, at the very least, the issue was put out onto the table, and participants went away with some resources and hopefully lots to think about.

And that’s a start.

Check out my web site at https://intrafaithconversation.com 
Follow my blog at https://intrafaithconversation.com/blog-2/
Buy my  book at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Sagrada Sacred Arts in Oakland, CA
Kindle edition is also available on Amazon

Pluralism Summer: Weeks 5 & 6

165763_489522519437_2022599_nI first met Dolores White back in 2002 when I had just arrived in Berkeley. I’d met Paul Chaffee from the Interfaith Center at the Presidio and was invited to a board meeting. Somehow I found my way from the East Bay to the far side of San Francisco (the Presidio is not easy to get to on public transportation and my car was still back in Buffalo).  I’ve gotten much more savvy about navigating the streets of San Francisco, but back then I wasn’t sure how I’d ever find my way back home.

Dolores, a member of the Baha’i faith, was one of the board members who welcomed me that day and the first to offer me a ride to the nearest BART station. I was so grateful. Since then I’ve learned that that’s just Dolores: graciousness personified.

She was one of our speakers two summers ago, when our theme was the environment, and I’m so glad she agreed to come back for Week 5 to address the question of how her Baha’i faith informs how she thinks about politics.

Unfortunately, however, I won’t be there. I’ll be attending NAINConnect 2106 in Guadalajara. NAIN is the North American Interfaith Network, founded in 1990 as a way to build communication and mutual understanding among interfaith organizations and diverse religious groups throughout North America.

d4ba2c0967b317439c004019f5e18b66This will be the first gathering in Mexico and there will be an emphasis on Indigenous Peoples and their relationship to the land/struggle for land and water rights.  The theme of the conference this year is Sacred Space. According to the planners, we’ll be looking at sacred space in the widest sense possible – our inner sacred space, the space we create together in relationship, our worship spaces, holy places, the land and the earth and the universe as sacred. Also, my workshop proposal was accepted, so I’ll be leading my first interfaith intrafaith conversation!

WEEK 6 of Pluralism Summer will be completely different. Middle Circle will be taking over the entire time slot. Middle Circle is the “spiritual but not religious” community sponsored by First United. The theme’s question had to be a little different for this group: “How does your religious/ spiritual/ philosophical tradition inform how you think about politics?” Not only will Middle Circle give us their insights, they’ll also help those of us in the “traditional” church expand our ideas of what the interfaith community includes.

Pluralism Summer is an initiative of First United Lutheran Church, a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.

We believe that, as theologian Hans Kung wrote:
“There will be no peace among the nations until there is peace among the religions.  There will be no peace among the religions until there is dialogue among the religions.”

We believe our wisdom will only be enhanced by continued conversation with all of our neighbors. Together we work for peace, justice, and the good of all people and all creation.