Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration

9-Week Self Study Program

Week FIVE: Forgiveness in the Middle East

Interview Dialogues
Discussion Questions
Preparation & Background

Related Global Manifesto
Further Reading/ Links

 

INTERVIEWS

Charles Nolley on Forgiveness from the Perspective of Baha'i
A longtime leader in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i Faith in North America, Charles was a founding trustee and first Board Chair of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. He currently serves as Director of Division of Digital Learning and Media Design at Governor’s State University in Illinois.

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Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman
Rabbi of a Reform Jewish congregation in Jerusalem called Kehilat Kol Haneshama. A leader of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism and of Rabbis for Human Rights, his congregation is a model for inter-religious understanding, dialog, and healing in Jerusalem.


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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Is it truly possible to create a “global dialogue of civilizations?” If so, why would interreligious dialogue be such a vital component of the effort?

2. Which is the likely future direction of humankind: increased exclusivism and fundamentalism or greater pluralism? Why?

 

 

PREPARATION & BACKGROUND

Baha'i

Founded by the Persian nobleman, Bahá’u’lláh, in the 19th century, the Bahá’í faith is one of the world’s fastest growing. It teaches that humanity is actually a single race and that the time for true global unity has come. The Baha’i faith affirms the spiritual and ethical teachings of the great religious traditions, while offering new principles appropriate to an emerging global civilization. Bahá’ís regard Baha’u’llah as a divine messenger in the line that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

Excellence: The profound commitment to global peace and unity. The understanding that human evolution is inexorably linked to spiritual development. Intercultural harmony as the touchstone of our planetary future.
Story: The Báb – forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh – as the bearer of a long-awaited divine revelation
Ritual Pattern: Daily prayer and scripture reading
Ethic: Service to humankind

 

Theme: Peace Among the Abrahamic Religions

The bitter irony of conflict between Jews and Muslims in Israel-Palestine challenges our theological and spiritual understanding. The involvement of Christians in many of the most critically contentious situations (often for the worse) also taxes our comprehension. Is the violence in the Middle East religiously-based? Or do its roots lie elsewhere – in struggles over land, power, and wealth? If, as seems likely, the latter is the case, how are religious beliefs and practices exploited to heighten emotions and intensify crises?

The real question, of course, is how religious insight and inspiration can inform interreligious dialogue in such a difficult and dangerous context. Levi Weiman-Kelman speaks to that dimension of the problem like few others in the region.

Excerpt from Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope at a Time of Cultural Sea Change (Jim Kenney, Quest Books 2010), p. 201:

The shift from dialectic to dialogic in interreligious relations may prove to be one of the most significant drivers of the larger cultural sea change. When Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran, called for a “global dialogue of civilizations” he was offering a compelling alternative to historian Samuel Huntington’s widely discussed impending “clash of civilizations.” Huntington saw religion as the principle defining aspect of a culture or civilization. Therefore, Khatami’s challenge was particularly meaningful. If religions can master the challenge of authentic dialogue, then not only they, but global culture itself will take the path of dialogue.

 

Links & Media:

LINK: Quotes from the World's Religions on Forgiveness
LINK: Video Meditation on Forgiveness

 

RELATED GLOBAL MANIFESTO

The Brundtland Report: (1987: environmental problems global in nature; our common human obligation to address them)
CLICK HERE TO READ

 

FURTHER READING

Congregation Kol HaNeshama at the center of Reform Judaism in Israel (Note the critical blog comments following the article. Levi must be doing something right!)
https://www.forward.com/articles/134639/

Levi Weiman-Kelman: “A Jew’s Prayer for the Children of Gaza” (2009)”

Kehilat Kol Haneshama