Posts Tagged ‘Parliament of the World’s Religions’

The first cliff hanger of the Summer of 1990 (end of Season 3, beginning of Season 4), Best of Both Worlds, on par when Dallas did who shot JR… When Riker ordered “Fire” on the Borg ship with the newly assimilated Locutus (Jean-Luc Picard) on the view screen…cut to black. From June to September it was a long wait and with the introduction of Commander Shelby grade 7 me had to ponder was this the way to make Riker the captain?


                As cliff hangers go, it was well written. Yet these two parts, recently re-released on blu-ray as a feature length, set the stage to question. The Borg are Star Trek’s version of Cybermen-Daleks mixed together. Where Cybermen state upgrade, and Daleks state exterminate, the Borg inform species and individuals “you will be assimilated resistance is futile.”   They are a species that have created huge storylines (think I,Borg, where Hugh was discussed as having conscience or to be used as a bio-weapon to wipe them out. Or for Voyager fans, 7 of 9’s pursuit of her humanity once more).

Like good sci-fi though, it is more than just an invasion story with the Borg en-route to sector 001 (earth). It is the story of belonging, and what brings us to belong. It is the story of stripping away all the masks we need to function in our different roles of life, to be what we are truly meant to be. Nothing more relevant than the battle within Picard to return from being part of the Borg collective (assert his identity). The Borg are an allegory for cults or fanatical-extremist groups that remove one’s identity and ability to think outside of group think completely. Picard was assimilated- yet the Borg erred, much like the Cult leader who believes to groom a successor, the Queen desired a King and let some identity remain to bring an enemy low. Identity and name, not number were used.

This struggle was seen from the other side of the spectrum of extremes. Where Starfleet struggled with the idea of First Officer that refused to advance. Even in a world where money had been done away within the Federation planets, it seemed to stump people why Riker would keep turning down ships of his own to remain on the Enterprise. Not just a ship, but a community, a family, where he belonged, shared common stories and experiences. Others saw him as standing still while others shot past, yet here he was living the adventure of a lifetime.

Where the Borg had Locutus to challenge the extremist of collectivism, Riker was challenging the Federation’s extreme of individualism within the militarized wing of the Federation.

A duality presented to understand that in the middle outside of the bounds of extremes. A place where the Federation was a shining light, where peace existed, where one was truly free to pursue passions over survival. This is the ethos that drove Star Trek in the hearts of many others…a utopian future where there is still struggle, but where one could be who they are and the collective good was looked out for.

In case one forgets the dangers of extremism, there is stories like this that show all pieces of the political spectrum even in Utopia could create extremism. Today we must remember in the traditional political-religious spectrums there is extremism that has nothing to do with the core of the movements:

There are those in our world who watched Star Trek Deep Space Nine and believed the Cardassians to be the heroes of the Bajoran occupation, and Ferengi to be the moral compass of the universe.

Conservatives to facists to Neo-Nazis. Liberals to Communists to Stalinists (note how Stalinists and Neo-Nazis connect on the same hatred points—extremism creates weird bedfellows). Religiously seen in Islam to Al-Qaeda to ISIS, Christianity to IRA/Religious Right/PRO-LIFE Terror groups to the KKK.

But what is missed, is the joining floor, like the United Federation of Planets (our struggling version, the United Nations—religiously the Parliament of World Religions, World Council of Churches) where core values come through, common ground is found. Where individuals do not have to become assimilation spouting/doing automatons or climbing Jacob’s ladder to higher points of self-grandeur, whether warranted, but may not be what resonates for true vocation or readiness.

It is the moment Mary of Nazareth attempted to show us at the Wedding at Cana where she broke societal norms for hospitality, shattered patriarchy, and pushed her Son to be part of miracle to show the world…that things come in many different forms.

It is the challenge that history tells us moving into the before season of Easter Lent that builds to Palm Sunday, Jesus entry into Jerusalem. A day where Caesar would flex his might against the extremists of the Empire and force assimilation by having legions march in Jerusalem. It was also a time when the drive to climb the ladder kept families in power on their toes to constantly stay alive. Where the drive for power had one put aside family, friendship, belonging, and anything else that may be claimed to value to ensure the climbing up of the ladder. How the Herod family played all sides, how the religious authorities sold out their own belief systems to maintain power.

All this… and then you have the Riker/Locutus moment. Jesus, the peasant carpenter (labourer), born a bastard, raised in a small town where everyone knew Joseph wasn’t his Daddy (imagine the bullying) …rumours of the madness of Mary claiming God’s son, yet the whispers of gossip mill about the passing through Roman soldiers that had used her, and why Joseph was able to secure her. Shock that he stayed and had not turned her out quietly or stoned her.

Yet here he was, coming into the city at high holy time. A rabble of followers from the lower classes, those in the halls of power that may be curious only visiting by night to literally save their own necks.

While stallions and weapons were on the other side of town, flexing military might, entering along an entrance lined with crucified “terrorists”, “zealots” and “messiahs” with the power bases cheering.

Here was Brother Jesus, holding to his core beliefs of belonging, family, community, inclusion, hope, joy, faith, peace and L-O-V-E. Simply entering in such a fashion to shake the foundations and begin the ripple of what it meant to be neighbour. No more show, no more cognitive dissonance. Simply be. Simply do.

Are you ready for your Locutus/Riker moment?

Your donkey ride?

Are you ready to find your core?



Thought I would share this, quite a few good thoughts and conversation starters.

The Parliament Newsletter
Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the 2009 Parliament, MelbourneFrom the Editor…

As I understand it, Judaism does not give great weight to panaceas. There is no silver bullet, no single action or belief that enables you to achieve a good life. But what my religion does teach is that creating good systems—of action, belief, and communal life—enables communities to thrive.

I think there are lessons from this approach that can be applied to the inter-religious movement—and this newsletter. The first is that there is no single constituency. There are youth leaders and experienced clergy, politicians and business people, writers and educators, theists and humanists who are all essential to this movement. Their voices must be heard and amplified. For they—we—are all part of the movement and the network that has helped it grow.

The second is that communities rely on clear communication between their members. The inter-religious movement, in its continued growth, must allow for open communication, even when it leads to a plurality of views and even when those views do not align. A shared vision for a social movement can coalesce only when disagreements can be openly expressed and challenging topics directly engaged.

As the new editor of the Parliament of the World’s Religions’ newsletter and its Religious Leadership Fellow, I look forward to hearing and amplifying your views. As a young leader and future rabbi, I will look to those of other traditions, professions, and ages for contributions and insights. As a person invested in online publications and organizations—notably in my involvement founding the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and State of Formation—I will seek out those who are invested in more traditional mediums of expression. As a person who tends towards boisterousness, I will work to quiet my own voice in order to ensure that the newsletter remains about us and the movement we continue to build.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions newsletter will now appear twice each month in order to keep you up to date on breaking stories and enriched by incisive articles from our colleagues and reflections on the personal journeys that people within our large and growing network of movement-builders have taken in order to become a part of it.
Our stories are different. But they intersect in this movement and will have a voice in this newsletter. Our newsletter.

Honna Eichler

Joshua Stanton,
Religious Leadership Fellow
Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

Celebrating a Death
by Rev. Paul Raushenbush

It is a strange and conflicting emotion to celebrate a death. My professed beliefs include the redemption of evil and the potential good in all humanity. Yet I felt a sense of exhilaration when I read the headline ‘DEAD’ about Osama Bin Laden.

Read more…

My Take: Burial at sea shows compassion of Islamic law

By Imam Khalid Latif

I was sitting in a KFC in Brooklyn on Sunday night (halal for those who are worried) with two of my students when my phone started to buzz like crazy as friends, colleagues and family let me know that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Read more….

  Trustee Corner
Lessons from My Journey
by Helen Spector
CPWR Trustee

When Rev. Dr. David Ramage recruited me in 1990 to serve on the Board of Trustees leading up to the 1993 Parliament, I was not engaged in or much aware of the inter-religious movement.

My commitment to the Council’s work caught fire when I joined a group of Trustees to travel to Cape Town in 1998, to meet with our organizing counterparts and talk with leaders from all the faith communities who would support the Parliament in 1999 in Cape Town. From that visit and my work since, I have come to see clearly the power of the interfaith experience and the positive impact of Council’s community organizing approach.

Read more…

Parliament Webinar Series
Greening Your Religious Community
Clare Butterfield May 11, 2011
10:00am U.S. Central Time 

Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield
Register Now Director, Faith in Place

This webinar will provide training in basic approaches to organizing your religious community to be more sustainable in its own practices and to promote sustainability in the homes of members and in the public square.

Latest from State of Formation
Voices of Emerging Leaders

Honna Eichler Can Ancient Texts Inform Social Practice?
by Honna Eichler


James Croft Can We Talk?
by James Croft

  Ben DeVan What Do Americans Really Believe?
by Ben DeVan


Neil Krishan Aggarwal Diversifying the Traditions of a Religious Campus
by Neil Krishan Aggarwal


Upcoming Opportunities:

Scriptural Reasoning Training Session
June 25-28

Interfiath Youth Core hosts Leadership Institutes
June 28–July 1; July 25-28

The 2nd Global Conference on World’s Religions after September 11
September 7

  Support the Growing Movement

Help us in our work to bring people of faith together for a better world.

Donate: Support Our Work
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Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
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The views expressed in the Parliament Newsletter may not necessarily reflect the official position of CPWR, its Officers or Board of Trustees.