The Parliament of the World’s Religions presented a Chicago-based peacemaking organization with its highest award at its global gathering in Toronto last week. The Paul Carus Award for International Interfaith Leadership was presented on November 5th to the OMNIA Institute, which builds Interfaith Peacemaker Teams in Northeastern Nigeria and in Sri Lanka.
"Men with beards (Muslim Clergy) have for years told us how to think and what to think and we have not questioned these practices. It is time for us to question every answer. Yes, we have to." OMNIA Leader Soraya Deen One spoke to Sri Lanka's Leading Newspaper, the Sunday Observer, about the critical role of religious reform in the achievement of world peace.
President Trump’s recent provocative tweet to Iran's President Rouhani caught many, including the U.S. State Department and the military, off guard. His threat, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE…” was not only one head of state threatening another; it was an emboldened self-avowed Christian confronting the leader of a Shi’ite Muslim theocratic state. The problem created for religious freedom worldwide is enormous.
The recent buzz around the documentary about Mister Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor," has stirred up a lot of fond and poignant memories. At the start of my career I aspired to become a children's television producer and sought the counsel of Fred Rogers, who, against all odds, took me under-wing, served as my graduate advisor and mentor, and became for my family and me not only a dear friend, but the embodiment of what "loving your neighbor" was all about.
"Loving Your Neighbor." Teaching others how to do that - in all its simplicity and complexity - is really what we strive to do at OMNIA, and as I watched "Won't You Be My Neighbor" the other night I remembered that a few years back I had written a chapter entitled "Who Is My Neighbor" for the book "Connected Spirits" by Andrew Weaver. In that chapter I recalled times in which Fred's ability to "love his neighbor" permeated everything he did.