Fall 2012 Call for Contributing Scholars!


State of Formation is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for Contributing Scholars!

State of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past two years, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country and the world have engaged each other and readers by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social backgrounds.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Interfaith Youth Core, Pluralism Project, Interfaith Observer, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. (On rare occasions, exceptions will be made to these guidelines in order to increase the diversity of the writers.)  Contributors should be able to commit to post monthly on the forum while showing respect others from different traditions.

Does this describe you or an emerging leader you know? Please take a moment to fill out our brief nomination form. Nominations for the fall are due October 30, 2012 and will be accepted on a rolling basis.



Honna Eichler

Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue.

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7 thoughts on “Fall 2012 Call for Contributing Scholars!

  1. DALAI LAMA at the LOWRY HOTEL – 16th June 2012:

    This morning I rose early to meet Jane, the Catholic wife of Victor, who is the Jewish-Buddhist baker from whom my Muslim friend Pops obtains the bread he gives me to circulate among Nano network projects feeding homeless and other vulnerable people across Manchester. Jane was my guest. Together with others who work with children and young people, we were going to meet the Dalai Lama at the Lowry Hotel.

    Arriving early, I discovered that the allotments near Victor and Jane’s home have links with Freedom from Torture, whose representatives Meli and Alice were on my show earlier in the week, along with Laughter guru Robin Graham, to talk about their work during laughter week and the part laughter plays in turning victims into survivors.

    On arrival at the Lowry, Jean and I found ourselves sitting close to the feet of the Dalai Lama. Time and again during the morning, I was reminded of those jokes about the seeker reaching the guru at the top of the mountain expecting a profound utterance, only to be told the obvious.

    The Dalai Lama spoke of the opportunity for the C21st generation to make this a century for peace after our C20th generation had made so many mistakes by assuming that solutions were found through power, war and domination by ruling minorities. C20th leaders, he told us, were set in their ways and could not change.

    “When I met President Bush”, he said at one point, “I found him a likeable human being. So I told him that truth: “I like you, Mr. Bush. We can be friends, even though some of your policies stink!”

    Were C20th leaders holding back the promise of the C21st generation I asked, citing the case of teenagers of all faiths and none and all aspects of human sexuality and identity who started the Queerstianity movement in our city in response to hate preachers abusing Muslim and gay children on their way home from school through the city centre. Queerstianity organised peaceful counter messaging systems that drew in children and young people who had been bullied for being Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Atheist; or for having red hair, being fat or making alternative lifestyle choices. At almost 1,000 strong, Queerstianity was empowering others and to raising support for Mother’s Against Violence, Faith Network for Manchester, Amnesty, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and other projects promoting respect and dialogue across all spectrums of human identity. They won Homo-Hero and Diana Awards in their first year of activity and the right to lead Pride with Sir Ian McKellen, but were not even on Whitehall’s radar or that of local government for that matter.

    In his response, the Dalai Lama spoke about the compassion of the C20th leaders who have so badly failed us as being limited by its exclusion and bigotry. Hope, he said, lay in a new kind of compassion that was limitless because it had no prejudice or favour, recognising connection across faith and non-faith, science, culture and even species. I was left in no doubt that this man got it and spoke the universal language that is spoken and understood by those who, having loving hearts, are not afraid to use their reasoning power.

    The Dalai Lama spoke passionately about the importance of being honest and not doing things out of duty, religious or otherwise, but of being true to ourselves, each other and therefore ultimately to the truth itself, however we understand or name that truth. He was very playful with his audience and didn’t mind speaking honestly about his own faults. He told a story of fighting with his older brother as a boy. How they would fall out and feel much closer once, differences resolved, they became playmates again. Conflict, he said, , is part of growth and we must express our disappointments with each other rather than bottle them up where they can fester into desires to annihilate from which there is no road back for either party.

    Makes sense to me: more Dalai Lama’s and less Dalek Lamer’s.

    Another story he told involved a parrot that lived in his quarters as a boy. One of the monks would come up and make a fuss of the bird, giving it nuts and showing it deep regard. The parrot would get excited even hearing the footsteps of this monk. The young Dalai Lama wanted to have the same sort of relationship with the bird, so would offer it nuts, but not with his full loving attention. The bird rejected his friendship. He even resorted to using a stick to force it to accept the nuts he offered, only to find the wise bird would now have nothing to do with him.

    How I wished I could sit and discuss Great Ape encounters with this man who had been taught by a parrot as a small boy!

    When someone opened their question with a long introduction about what a privilege it was to be in his Holiness presence, the Dalai Lama proved no ego stroker. He didn’t stroke his own, so wasn’t comfortable when others tried to stroke it for him.

    When someone asked what advice he had for those working in particular ways with young people he said more or less what Desmond Tutu offered me when I asked his opinion as to how to approach a community egregore shift. The man who helped turn apartheid misery into the Rainbow Nation had said: “I was among those God placed in South Africa through these times, you are among those who God has placed in Manchester … do not be afraid to do what needs doing and God will show you the way as he showed us the way”.

    Desmond’s advice was spot on. The Dalai Lama said something a little more succinct:

    “You are doing that work, so you should be able to tell me”.

    His comment, delivered with a beaming smile, had the audience roaring with laughter, including the person who had asked the question.

    Afterwards, there were networking opportunities before returning with my guest to Chorlton, where we went to the Barbican Deli to tell Victor how the morning had gone.

    The deli was crowded as Jane approached the counter to greet her “Deli Lama”. As we shared lunch and I did a bit of magic for a young lad helping his Mother carry out a library survey, we reflected on what we had learned.

    Despite having been in receipt of the bread several times a week for almost a year, I’d only met Jane and Victor themselves two days earlier via an introduction from Pop’s. Just last night, Pop’s, his wife Farah and I had been enchanted and amused as their young son Hamas talked to me about how we are all connected and have forgotten our relationship as expressions of the same truth, which many call Allah, others call God and yet others name as the Goddess. As secretary for Faith Network for Manchester, I’ve discovered time and again that those who can step out of their own comfort zones to hold honest discussions and show mutual regard to people with different understandings are capable of working together to achieve peace and justice and reduce food poverty. They are also capable of healing the sick and raising the dead. If my time sat at the feet of the Dalai Lama taught me anything, it was that we were on the right track; that global equity was possible and that the planet could turn back from the brink if more people could step out of their religious, cultural, political and sexual bigotry and leave greed, fear and insecurity behind to meet others in their wholeness from awareness of the wholeness they themselves possessed.

    One core part of the message of the Dalai Lama today echoes something Jesus said two thousand years ago but which most of his followers have seemed afraid to grasp:

    “We (C20th generation) have done great things in faith, science, health, agriculture – but you (C21st generation) will do far greater things because you have seen in our achievements the possibilities that you can now attain. Do not be afraid to step away from the mistakes we have made and to embrace new approaches that will benefit everyone”.

    © Rev. David Gray 2012.

  2. Have to say that it concerns me deeply that another generation is being set up in the ego place of assumed leadership as your elite is formed.

    Will you dialogue with those of faith who chose to stay away from hierarchical power structures?

    Will the older people be excluded from your deliberations?

    Can the human family move forward with an invitation that is extended to everyone?

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