Social Issues

Taken by the author at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

Choice and Safety: Required Ingredients for Interfaith Progress

Classic “contact theory” predicts that diverse societies automatically bring about tolerance. I argued against this idea here when I discussed how proximity generally exacerbates the anxiety of difference, and fails to disconfirm negative stereotypes when people see—but do not understand—their differences. If your goal is increasing tolerance and civic cooperation, it is not enough just […]

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Credit: Philip Rosenberg

Searching for the Buddha’s Climate Change Policy

On May 14, I joined some 130 Buddhist leaders, teachers and scholars representing over 60 major Buddhist schools and ethnicities in Washington D.C. for the first White House U.S. Buddhist Leaders Conference. Of particular interest to conference participants was the subject of climate change. The issue triggered questions for me about what a pan-Buddhist approach […]

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Photo taken by the author at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions.

What Is the Unity of “Unity in Diversity”?

Notwithstanding the prizing of diversity, there IS some unified bottom line to interfaith dialogue. Nonviolent behavior is the basis for “unity in diversity.” Behavior is a category about which all parties participating in a dialogue must actually be on the same page. A behavioral covenant of nonviolence is necessary to contain and maintain an interfaith engagement, […]

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If You’re Sad About Charleston, Do Something

Recently someone asked me: “What would your community look like if it loved black people?” A few answers came to me, but the first and last answer was, “I don’t know and I want to know.” I want to know. I want to be alive when that becomes reality. I have heard confusion from people […]

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What Will Be There?

Laudato Si’ – Becoming Painfully Aware

This is the first in a multi-part series exploring the Laudato Si’ Encyclical Letter on the environment by Pope Francis. “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to […]

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taken by the author on December 5th, 2009 at the Parliament for the Word's Religions in Melbourne, Austalia.

Romantic Distance vs. Vexing Proximity: the difficulty of real up-close interfaith encounters

My research on interreligious dialogue and engagement has reinforced an old cliché: absence makes the heart grow fonder. When two people are distant from each other, it is easy to idealize each other. It is easy to recall them enshrouded in mists and to dream of an incandescent, ecstatic reunion. It is easy to gleefully […]

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Charleston: #BlackLivesMatter This Ramadan

I logged onto Facebook Tuesday night, about to post a “Ramadan Mubarak!” wish for all my Muslim friends. And then, scrolling down my news feed, I saw it—the news that a white man had entered a black church in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and opened fire, killing nine people. “Terrorism,” one of my friends […]

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By Barbaricino (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Libro_di_Mormon.JPG

On Irreconcilable Differences: My Interreligious Dialogue with Mormon Missionaries

Since I’m conducting field research on interfaith dialogue in Rome, I thought it would be an important part of my participant-observation to embark upon a dialogue. I met some Mormon sisters conducting missions in Italy, and we gathered on three different occasions to trade our stories, religious commitments, and to talk about our faith. I grew […]

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Photo taken by the author Jenn Lindsay near Piazza di Popolo in Rome.

Pluralismo Vivo: The Interfaith Roads of Rome

It’s not easy to find clear examples of “interreligious violence” in Rome. The closest thing Rome suffers to religious violence are distant shrieks from ISIS across the Mediterranean Sea about “bringing Rome to her knees.” Overt religious conflict requires a more closely balanced religious demographic—and with Italy’s current Catholic-affiliating demographic topping out at 85% (not […]

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To Post or Not to Post: Interfaith Activism Online

Oh, the internet. And the lingo—and dregs—of the internet. Trolls. Flame wars. Click-baiting. Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people about the value of social media. I’m normally the pro-internet person, pointing out the powers of the web for organizing and spreading messages and disrupting mainstream media narratives. I like to quote […]

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