This summer, I had the honor of preaching a sermon on interfaith engagement to eight different Unitarian Universalist congregations in Illinois and Wisconsin. The sermon was entitled, “Acts of Faith: Interreligious Engagement as Spiritual Practice,” and won the District Sermon Contest Award in my faith tradition.
Based on the themes found within Eboo Patel’s book, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, The Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, my experiences delivering this sermon for two straight months gave me an opportunity to reflect on not only the place of interfaith engagement within the spiritual formations of individuals within my own religious tradition, but also on the art of homiletics. Read the rest of this entry
A beach is much more impressive, when one realizes the time and energy that has gone into the deconstruction of big rocks in order to make billions of sand pebbles. When we stand on a beach, our toes sinking deeper into the warm bed beneath them, and we look out into the endless oceans of beauty, we are in essence standing at the mouth of the universe. Every grain of sand has spoken a sacred story of truth and wisdom, every one with a journey from deconstruction of old identity to reconstruction anew.
I felt like a grain of sand over the past few days, as I gathered at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School with a group of about 25 seminarians, academics, professors, and practitioners all attempting to do something magical: turn boulders into beaches. Each of us is dedicated to incorporating interreligious engagement into the nature of our particular vocational goals. We believe that to be a religious leader in the 21st century, we must take seriously the religious diversity in the world and the subsequent difficulties and possibilities that emerge for building foundations for harmony and justice. Read the rest of this entry
The men and women moved slowly past the prostrate women in her eighties. She repeated a modified sun salutation and prayer for peace several times in the aisle, even as a dozen or so latecomers passed her as they made their way to their seats. And then the woman stood up, hands pressed together in a sign of peace and compassion and returned to her seat using her cane for assistance.
All this time, the room remained rather hushed with four thousands hearts and minds fixated on the stage, awaiting the words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This woman was physically doing what so many of us longed to do. We longed to match the peace and compassion of this global religious figure in action. Instead most of us just sat in awe of his demeanor and superb eloquence. Read the rest of this entry
Last Sunday, a controversial art piece in Stockholm’s Moderna Museet set off a firestorm of controversy throughout the world. Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde created and participated in the piece, which has explicit undertones of race, which most have deemed racist in nature. I have a heavy heart as I reflect on this piece, attempting to humbly consider whether there is a time when we must stand up against certain expressions of art. This is what brought me to this difficult state of reflection:
“Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth (Swedish Minister of Culture) was invited to open the festivities by performing a clitoridectomy on the cake, which she did by slicing off the part of the cake depicting female genitalia. She then proceeded to feed that part of the cake to a performance artist, done up in blackface, his head protruding through the table.” As the video below indicates, the artist screams in excruciating “pain” as the knife slices at the genital regions of the cake, adding an auditory element to the artistic experience. And it was an experience. In many pictures taken, men and women stand around sipping their wine, as they watch with smiles and laughter at the “shock art” before them. Read the rest of this entry