Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pre-Gathering Workshops - 3

Continuing to address the question "What Has Caused Abandonment of the Center in the Faith Traditions?" Professor Sherman Jackson , an African-American convert to Islam (as were other American-born presenters), asserted that ignorance is easy to fix if a person is sincere and willing to learn. He believes that insecurity breeds fundamentalism, that fundamentalism exists among those who won't accept knowledge. This leads to arrogance. If a religious tradition doesn't speak to the reality of people's lives, they will look elsewhere. I agree with him, and I also believe that this is among the reasons why some turn to NeoPagan religious paths -- because many find these adaptable paths to be more relevant to the lives we are actually living in this 21st century PoPoMo world.

Jack Kornfield , a Vipassana teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, near where I live, was unable to attend because he was attending a retreat but he kindly sent a brief statement addressing the question.

Speaker Rabbi Jane Litman is another local person from Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. I've chatted with her, her husband and family several times over the years at social functions at our mutual friend Irene's house. I was glad to see she was on the program.

Dr. Shabbir Mansuri from India, founding director of the Council on Islamic Education, also spoke.

Phil Cousineau claimed that the urge to proselytize comes from fear and that ignorance creates terrorism. You can see a theme developing here, one with which I've always agreed: fear, ignorance, "us-them" mindset. Phil also made a case for people making religious pilgrimages, or just traveling, getting to know other peoples, other customs, and other ways of living. He apprised us this startling fact -- to me at least: the travel industry is now the largest industry in the world, surpassing even the armaments industry. Great news, sez I.

More another night.

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