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The Parliament Newsletter
Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue
Religion versus Spirituality
by Joseph McCann
from the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue

Nowadays, people commonly say: “I am not religious—but I am spiritual.” These are not new ideas. The distinction between “Spirituality” and “Religion” has been around for a long time, though the meanings have changed.

“Spirituality” begins as a distinction between the spiritual moral realm and the moral realm of fleshly desires, for example, when Paul the Apostle advises the early Christians to go into training, to subdue their lower desires in favor of heavenly things. But Paul was a Jew and that was a Jewish distinction. Confusion soon arose with the Greek distinction between soul and body, which was not the same thing at all. Then a political perspective arose in the Middle Ages between the responsibility of the Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. Some of the Reformers pointed to a contrast between the experience of religious oppression in the established churches and the spiritual and personal faith of the children of God. Our contemporary notions of the spiritual reflect undertones from this conceptual history.

“Religion” too is a western European idea, rooted in the notion of “binding people together” with their family, their country and their gods. It came to refer especially to the opening of the human to the transcendent, that is, to that which goes beyond the individual, including whatever is “the other,” “the certain,” “the sacred,” and “the holy.”

Click here to download the full article (pdf)

Ramadan: A Month-Long Spiritual Gym
by Imam Abdullah Antepli

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This is the month in which the Holy Qur’an started to be revealed to prophet Muhammad. So Ramadan marks the historical birth of Islam as the youngest sibling of the Abrahamic family. Ramadan has been primarily a joyful celebration of this birth in prayerful and devotional ways for the last fourteen hundred years by Muslims of all different backgrounds.

  Why the Buddha Touched the Earth
by John Stanley and David Loy

In one of Buddhism’s iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader’s powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: “I am your witness.”

Jews and Muslims in America: more in common than we think
by Joshua M. Z. Stanton

Contrary to common assumptions, many Jewish and Muslim Americans enjoy warm relations. Yet we are only beginning to understand how and why this is so. A Gallup report released last week goes a long way to explaining this unexpected trend, which shows that the two diverse communities have more in common than is often thought.

  Upcoming Opportunities:
Latest from
State of Formation

Voices of Emerging Leaders

Adina AllenWhen the Walls Crumble
by Adina Allen
Joshua Eaton Making Buddhism Accessible to Working-class People
by Joshua Eaton
Chris Stedman Dear Religious Americans: How Many Atheists Do You Know?
by Chris Stedman
Kari AanestadRev. Frankenstein: Seminary and Chasing the Monster
by Kari Aanestad
  Program Highlight:

Online Newsletters & Webinars

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions connects the global interreligious movement. This newsletter strives to bring you the best articles and most important interreligious news from around the world. The Parliament Blog brings these stories to you every day. And the Parliament Webinar Series spans the globe to address cutting-edge issues, hosted by prominent religious thinkers and leaders.

Your support of the Council enables us to continue to find new ways to bring diverse people together. Make a gift today!

Interreligious Training
Training for Interreligious Organizing

September 18, 2011
Islamic Foundation, Villa Park, IL.

What skills do religious communities need to a make a difference?
  • Learn the tools of effective organizing
  • Develop an action plan for your community or organization
Presenters include:
Michael Gecan, Industrial Areas Foundation
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
Kim Bobo, Interfaith Worker Justice
Michael McConnell, American Friends Service Committee
Youth Organizer from the Interfaith Youth Core

Learn More...

Parliament Webinar Series
Equipping Religious Leaders
for Interreligious Work

Alon Goshen-GottsteinSeptember 14, 2011
10:00am U.S. Central Time 

Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Executive Director Register Now
Elijah Interfaith Institute

Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute and lecturer and director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, both in Jerusalem. He was ordained a rabbi in 1977. Projects of the Elijah Interfaith Institute include the bi-annual meeting of the board of World Religious Leaders, the Educational Network, as well as the Jewish and the Muslim Theology of the Religious Other. Learn More...

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