On October 16-19 a Parliament of various religious traditions was held in Salt Lake City. The first of these was held in Chicago in 1893, and after a century hiatus, another one in 1993. Subsequently the Parliament has met every five years.
Even as a wave of violence escalated between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem, I had the honor to host a luncheon at which the Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, met and conversed warmly with a distinguished delegation of imams and Muslim leaders from New York and New Jersey.
Reconstructionist Judaism is predicated upon each generation reconstructing Judaism to be relevant and meaningful for its time. The effects of intermarriage have not been as dire as some have predicted. Judaism and Jewish life have not ceased to exist when families intermarry.
Such communion with the Divine has resolved issues for me as diverse as chronic career concerns, health problems, loneliness, and lack. It has also rescued me from self-destructive habits, masked as the false promise of finding happiness in self-centered indulgence.
Growing up, churches were simply buildings that I did not enter. Not because I felt unwelcome by Christians, but because I didn't even know any of them in the first place.
Only when all of us take up this charge can we ensure that never again will a Black Church be burned, will a police officer gun down an unarmed Black person, will a Black transgender woman be murdered, and grotesquely disproportionately incarcerate Black people. Never again.
In the hustle of modern life it's often difficult to stop, take a breath, and listen to those around you. We can learn so much simply by attending to the stories of the people around us.
I have always been amazed at how easy it is for hate groups to make national headlines compared to how incredibly hard it is for groups that stand for peace, love, and justice to ever be noticed in the media.
The escalation of tension among the American-Muslim community is an opportunity for us to once more examine the role of religion in society from a multi-disciplinary lens. It is an opportunity to reject the simplistic and sensational narrative that is leading to a cycle of violence.
Symbolic of both traditions, we concluded their interfaith ceremony with seven vows and blessings. In part they were adapted from the traditional Hindu ceremony and then we added additional heartfelt values.
Although it might be tempting to dismiss these protesters as part of a racist, fringe movement, not to be taken seriously, that would be a mistake. The organized anti-Muslim movement in this country is well-financed, well-organized and pervasive in American politics.
I am informally connected to a growing network of clergy partnered with people from other (or no) religions. These brave souls prove every day that you can be a passionate leader in your own religion, and love someone from another religion.
I listened to one after another speak sincerely about helping those most vulnerable. And instead of feeling more out of place, I came to understand why Kimberly had invited exactly this mix of people to this discussion.
The vast majority of immigrants came to our shores to improve their lives, and as they did so, they improved the lives of all Americans. And as we've been reminded recently, many more Americans have been killed by domestic gun violence than by terrorists of any stripe.
We cannot limit compassion to only our own faith groups and people who share our worldviews. We must accept that what makes us American is not the color of our skin or creed we hold, but our commitment to each other.
It was bold of Pope Francis to orchestrate this interfaith convening at Ground Zero. Before the Pope spoke, there was a joint prayer sung by an Imam and a Rabbi.