A place for people of faith and no-faith to explore shared values, build respect and mutually inspiring relationships, and pursue common action for the common good

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Recognizing a Call to Yell: Sara

In Elmhurst College, Faith, Service, Social Justice, What If...? on November 23, 2010 at 6:00 am

Today’s guest post is by Sara Schroeder, an Elmhurst Senior studying Religious Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, and Art. Sara is president of Amnesty International at Elmhurst College, passionate about the environment as a human rights issue. In this post she calls us to step out of our comfort zones and speak out for respect of our global community.

‘Someone has to step up, otherwise no one will.’ The statement is hardly profound in itself, but undeniably true.

I live my life the way I do knowing that if I don’t wake up and do something about the news I hear or the things that upset me – no one else will. Waiting for someone else to call an ambulance for the pedestrian who just got hit by a car is dangerous: no one may call. If everyone assumes someone else is going to “handle” a situation, no one steps up. This phenomenon is more officially known as the bystander effect or Genovese syndrome. This is the problem with our privileged society.

I don’t consider myself solely capable to fight for human and environmental justice; I just can’t live my life without getting involved. I have too many resources and opportunities to either pretend that nothing is happening by not paying attention to world news, or knowing about these issues and thinking, “that’s too bad.” Read the rest of this entry »


Thinking About Faith: Reuben

In Better Together, Elmhurst College, Faith, Service, Social Justice, What If...? on November 16, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Today’s guest post comes from Reuben Metreger, an Elmhurst ’08 grad, now a Juris Doctor Candidate at Wayne State University Law School. Reuben is an activist with Amnesty International for human rights for all. In this post Reuben shares why he believes what he does and a bit about why he believes people need to come together from different faiths around human rights. Reuben blogs about human rights at http://human-rights-for-all.blogspot.com/.

I always knew that there was more than one right way to be good. I always believed that more than one religion could be correct. Being born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother I could not accept that half of my family was going to hell, or even that half was on the wrong path, while the other half was secured a place in paradise merely for picking the right faith.

Even as a child I knew that if Jesus is the son of GOD, and all that is right and good in the world, then he could not possibly condemn half of my family and all of my friends that were not born into the same religion that I was, to an afterlife of torture and misery.

If heaven is a paradise for the faithful, a reward for living a good life and helping others, then how could it be absent atheists, Muslims, Jewish, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans etc… Even when I was little I knew that this could not be correct, because heaven just could not be a real reward if it was absent the people that I loved and cared about.

This is when I developed my Jesus is a teddy-bear philosophy. I decided that if Jesus was really the son of GOD, full of love and everything good as I had been taught, then surely he would forgive everyone, and heaven would be filled with all people, not just Christians. I imagined that when a person died they would learn the truth about GOD and faith. I pictured people of all faiths, or even without faith, going to heaven to meet Jesus and learning the truth that there is more than one path to goodness. For me the path was through Jesus, but I imagined that Jesus would appear different to people that believed different things. To some I imagined Jesus would resemble a large fluffy teddy-bear that would merely hug them and offer love, comfort, and forgiveness.

After all, if you are dead and your life on Earth is over, then surely you no longer need to worry about who was right and who was wrong. Surely you would be forgiven your faults and shown a better way. The afterlife would surely be more than just the answer to questions of faith, but also the solution to all of our problems. There could be no conflicts in heaven. Surely Jesus did not need to prove to you that he was right by condemning you for being wrong. That would not be perfection, that would just be petty.

As an adult I found Unitarian Universalism. UU’s believe in:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
  • Belief that Jesus is a teddy-bear

OK I threw in the last line. UUs do not tell you what to believe, but you can see how it fits.

To me, heaven on Earth is working for justice and equality for everyone. It is what drives me and what I feel called to do. It is what led me to law school, Amnesty International, and social justice.

Reuben and fellow students at Elmhurst, protesting recent immigration laws

What IF Speak in: a picture is worth 1000 words

In Elmhurst College, hunger, Service, Uncategorized, What If...? on November 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

(Image: words “food” and “comfort” intersecting at the letter “O” to form a cross)


When I was cleaning after the What IF…? Speak in, last night, I found the above picture doodled on some of the butcher paper that covered the tables. I wish I could speak to the artist; I don’t know if he or she was intentional about the creation of a cross or if they were just playing Scrabble, but I choose to interpret it as a symbol of the artist’s faith.  This picture says more than I can about the speak in, it shows what we are working toward- people of faiths and traditions contributing to the common good of our global community by building a world in which both the hungry find comfort and are fed and through the relationships we build through this service we can feel comfortable to ask tough questions of our faith and of our community.

The Pluralism Project

In Better Together, Interfaith, Service on November 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

Todays post is a re-post from Davidson College Interfaith and Kaela Frank, the IFYC Fellow there.

“Over the past five decades, immigration has dramatically changed the religious landscape of the United States. Today, the encounter of people of different religious traditions takes place in our own cities and neighborhoods. In 1991, thePluralism Project at Harvard University began a pioneering study of America’s changing religious landscape.”

In the summer of 2010, the Pluralism Project announced its first-everPhotography Contest to document the vibrancy of religious diversity in the United States. The photos below feature the 2010 Pluralism Project Photography Contest winners.

“Floating Lanterns,” Dwight K. Morita. 2010 Pluralism Project Photography Contest Grand Prize Winner.

These floating lanterns memorialize those that have passed away at Ala Moana Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.  As the sun sets in the background, small boats with Buddhist monks and church volunteers help to launch and shepherd the small armada of lantern ships, each inscribed with sentiments from family and friends.  This traditional Buddhist practice began as a small ritual, but has since grown to become a major event attracting thousands of people of all faiths from around the world.  Photo by Dwight K. Morita.

“Mother and Daughter,” Jonathan Cox.

On June 20, 2009, members of the Sikh Sangat Society Boston held achhabeelcelebration in Union Square in Somerville, Massachusetts to commemorate the 403rd anniversary of the death of Sikhism’s fifth guru, Guru Arvan Dev Ji. A mother and daughter wear saffron and navy blue, traditionally the most important colors in Sikhism, as they participate in this community event. Photo by Jonathan Cox.

“Summer Drumming,” Rev. Heron/Tara Sudweeks Willgues.

Members of the Church of the Sacred Circle in West Valley City, Utah gather outside for a summertime drumming and fire circle with friends and families.  The Church of the Sacred Circle is a church of earth-based spirituality, welcoming a variety of traditions including modern Wicca, Asatru, Shamanic practice, Druidism and Native American practice. Photo by Rev. Heron/Tara Sudweeks Willgues.

“Autumn Lotus Shrine,” Sraddha Van Dyke.

Located in rural Buckingham, Virginia, Satchidananda Ashram,Yogaville is a multifaith spiritual community founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Their Lotus Shrine, an interfaith temple open to the community, is pictured here amidst the autumn leaves. Photo by Sraddha Van Dyke.

“Interfaith Action,” Alexandra Tourek.

During a service trip to Detroit, Michigan, youth active in Interfaith Action Youth Leadership Program of Sharon, Massachusetts worship at a local Buddhist temple as part of their immersion interfaith experience. Photo by Alexandra Tourek.

“Temple at Dusk,” Joshua Fahler.

Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland,Texas, sits amidst farm fields and sprawling housing developments.  The Temple’s organization has existed since the 1970s. Photo by Joshua Fahler.

“Jain Center of Greater Boston Inauguration,” Melissa Nozell.

The Jain Center of Greater Boston (JCGB), established in 1973, celebrated the Inauguration of their new Center in June 2010 with vibrant decorations, rituals, a procession, and a cultural program. Here, the parade processes through the suburban streets of Norwood, Massachusetts with music and dancing.

“Interfaith Youth Leadership Program,” Rebecca Luberoff.

Arshe Ahmed, a Muslim Adult Facilitator for the New England Anti-Defamation League’s Interfaith Youth Leadership Program (IFYLP), blows a shofar during a Jewish education activity.  Also known as “Camp IF,” IFYLP is an interfaith and diversity education program that brings together high school students from Greater Boston for an intensive one-week summer program.  Students then meet in the fall and winter to develop and implement educational programs in their home communities. This photo was taken at Camp Kenwood and Evergreen in Wilmot, New Hampshire. Photo by Rebecca Luberoff.

“Baha’i Temple,” Prerak D. Shah.

This was a picture taken in Wilmette, Illinois at The Baha’i House of Worship for the North American Continent, one of seven such temples in the world. The true beauty of this temple lies inside where the serenity and sense of peace in this house of worship are truly unmatched. Photo by Prerak D. Shah.

“Buddhist Relic Procession,” Amanda Pruitt.

A relic of the Buddha travels to its new home, a newly erected stupa at the Watsaosoksan Temple in Wellford, South Carolina.  In honor of this momentous occasion, Bhikkhuni Sudhamma, an American convert and one of only a handful of Theravadan Buddhist nuns worldwide, carries the relic in a grand procession to honor the Buddha at the Wat Lao Buddharam Temple in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 27, 2010. Photo by Amanda Pruitt.

“Botanica San Miguel,” Erin Loeb.

Recent Caribbean immigration to Greater Boston has brought with it a number of African-inspired religions, including Santeria from Cuba and Vodou from Haiti. Practitioners frequent botanicas–stores that supply the religious objects for Santeria and Vodou practice such as candles, oils, beads, statues, and herbs–a number of which are present in Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Dorchester, and Somerville. Here religious objects are on sale at Botanica San Miguel on South Street in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Photo by Erin Loeb.

“Love Never Faileth,” Dwight K. Morita.

Four Buddhist monks participate in an interfaith service at Central Union Church in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The service was organized to support efforts for Health Care reform by FACE – Faith Action for Community Equity –  an interfaith organization that champions issues important to the local community.  Photo taken by Dwight K. Morita.

“Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Dhamma Center,” Anne Teich.

This photo was taken in honor of the 25thAnniversary Celebration of Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery in Boulder Creek, California, a monastery in the Burmese Theravada Forest Tradition. Photo by Anne Teich.

“Roy Community Church,” Scott Allan Stevens.

Roy Community Church is an interdenominational and evangelical church in Roy, Washington. Photo by Scott Allan Stevens.

“Reflection,” Inbal Perlman.

Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Boston, Massacusetts, New England’s largest Islamic Center and landmark mosque, opened its doors in 2009. This photo is the view from the prayer space, looking across the community function hall, toward the café. Photo by Inbal Perlman.

“Coptic in Chicago,” Iwona Biedermann.

Set against the Chicago skyline, the photo documents Coptic Christians participating in an annual ritual of baptism in the waters of Lake Michigan. Photo by Iwona Biedermann.

“UNC-Chapel Hill Female Muslim Graduates,” Nushmia Khan.

Female Muslim graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina on their graduation day. These young women have gone on to be teachers in America, teachers in Palestine, medical school students, and Rhodes Scholars. Photo by Nushmia Khan

“Rural Highway Signs,” David W. Damrel.

This photo of two rural highway signs near Waddell, Arizona illustrates the diverse religious landscape of America. Photo by David W. Damrel.

To learn more about the Pluralism Project: http://pluralism.org/

Paid Summer Internships with the Pluralism Project

Why do I Love Interfaith?: Rachel

In Better Together, Elmhurst College, Faith, Interfaith on November 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Todays guest post is by Rachel Hartman, Student Government Association’s Vice President of Student Services. She gives a few thoughts about why her faith calls her to engage in interfaith work. Rachel will be gleefully joining us on November 11 for the What IF…? Speak in to learn about ways people from different backgrounds can work together to solve social issues.

Rachel at Spiritual Life Council's Earth Day Celebration last April!

I was raised in a way that taught very strongly that “this is the right way, the only way, and the best way”.  As I have progressed through my education, I’ve started thinking that if there is a God of love, He wouldn’t just love one group of people.

Why would He love Baptists more than He loves Catholics, more than He loves Hindus?

To me, a God of love loves everyone He has created and as long as you are actively pursuing a significant meaningful relationship, that should be enough!

To me, that is what Interfaith is about; acknowledging and celebrating the pursuit of a relationship.