B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Understanding Zionism

Kudos to Andrew Caplan for sharing the idea of Zionism in his article “The New Zionist” linked below. I have been struggling with the usage of the word Zionism and he has made good attempts to clarify this for me, who and I, are engaged in interfaith and pluralism work.

Mr. Caplan has put everything on the table that is being talked about Zionism; he is honest in sharing two different points of view and I have made a similar attempt here. Jews have the same problem on understanding Zionism as others, they have a lot of work ahead of them.

Continued - http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Zionism-a-new-Zionist.asp

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saudi Arabia; A change is in the making

Saudi Arabia; a change is in the making

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was perhaps the first head of a government, who was secure enough to initiate the Madinah pact, one of the first Pluralist documents in the history of mankind that respected and accepted God's intentional diversity to remain intact.I sincerely hope, that the Saudi King will pave the way to make the land of the prophet to once again become a beacon of pluralism, that Islam was and I pray that God help the King achieve it. Amen.
Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Saudi-Arabia-change-is-in-the-making.asp

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at GhouseMike@gmail.com

Does Qur'aan incite Violence - II

Does Qur'aan incite Violence -II

Qur’aan does not incite violence; those who are violence prone believe that it is, as their mind set is based on fear and violence. It is the propaganda of Neocons; those who are insecure about their extremist values, worry about similar people in other groups. Neocons are extremist literalists like the Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. They are all mirror images of each other.

Religion, yes, and every religion allays fears of the unknown, mitigates the apprehensions, gives hopes and brings a balance to an individual and what surrounds him; people and the environment.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Does-Qur'aan-incite-Violence-II.asp

Is Qur'aan perfect?

Is Qur'aan Perfect?

It is the true and final word of God for the Muslims who believe in it, it is not for the Christians, Hindus, Jews or others who are not familiar with it. However, if one sincerely understands the Qur'aan, he or she will find the essence of Justice, fairness; truth and peace resonate in Qur'aan as they may find it in their own scriptures.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Is-Quraan-Perfect.asp

Monday, February 9, 2009

Evolutionary Creation

Evolutionary Creation
2009 Evolution Weekend
Mike Ghouse

Several Abrahamic Religious leaders 'assume' that evolution is in conflict with creationism. It frightens them about the unknown; which is human. They have an unquestionable need to believe that what they know is the final word of God; a different point of view is anathema to them. The non-Abrahamic faith followers need not gloat; a new idea is usually an abomination to someone or the other including some of them. Whether you are a believer in a God, or several or no God, you would still find a new idea bring insecurity, like some one has pulled the rug from under you and you are out of your comfort zone.

We need to give God a lot more credit than we have given him (her or it) now. Let's give him the benefit of doubt that his word (or wisdom) perhaps includes evolution and every one of us needs to push the refresh button of our thinking, and find meaning in it. Let's make Good look good. Religion is about what we believe.

Is it possible that Adam was the first man in the process of evolution who was able to communicate coherently, take care of himself and survive against the nature's oddities? He was able to survive the fires, storms, blizzards, floods and furies of nature. Did God feel pleased with this new species that finally perfected to become a permanent part of the universe unlike the others that faded into oblivion? Did God call him “Adam” because he was the first one to stand out on his own? God's word is all embracing and that is what he may have meant in the Bible, Torah and Qur'aan. I am sure the other scriptures carry similar wisdom; it is rather our shortcoming in understanding the spectrum of God’s word rather than the word itself. Let’s be open to learning.

An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be here,” to which Abraham replied, “True, but if I weren’t here there wouldn’t be anyone to think about you.”

Pastor Randy Spaulding, “Science was a part of the ancient world, but religion and science had not split into “sacred” and “secular” realms. They existed side by side as simply two ways of being curious about life.

”The great chasm between science and religion came in the 16th century, when Copernicus guessed that the earth circled the sun instead of vice versa. This was counter to the biblical understanding that believed everything revolved around the earth. Copernicus and the Bible could not both be right. The Church stuck with the Bible and the scientific community separated from the church, finding themselves condemned as heretics and heathens.”

The key word is, “understanding”, which implies incomplete understanding.

Spaulding, “Religion is superstitious and locked in a vintage paradigm!” yells Science. “Science is nihilistic and devoid of morals!” Shouts Religion. For a progressive Christian like myself, and perhaps some of you, I find myself caught in the middle. My conservative Christian friends and family frown at me for affirming Evolution. My liberal and scientific friends roll their eyes at me for believing in God.”

Rev. Paul J. Kottke, “It is a false choice to feel that one must choose between science and faith. The language of one is factual [focused on the parts]. The language of the other is liturgical, metaphorical [focused on the “whole,” the being of life]. Both science and faith are gifts of God’s revelation to us – to be used in ways that create hope, meaning, and the fulfillment of life” and he continues, “To me, it is self-evident that both creation and evolution are gifts of God’s revelation into the world. If one is perceptive enough, then one will see the evidence of God’s presence in both the beauty of creation and in the theory of evolution.”

Robert Tucker, a Unitarian Universalist Minister writes, “I am also careful to stay informed as to what science says, so that I can distinguish “faith” from “fact.” That is something many Christian clergy fail to do. A classic example occurred the year following Darwin’s publication of on The Origin of Species. In June of 1860, a famous meeting took place at Oxford University. Speaking for the Church was Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

Defending the scientific view was biologist, philosopher and paleontologist Thomas Henry Huxley. After his savage speech denouncing Darwin and Huxley, Bishop Wilberforce asked the scientist: “If anyone were to be willing to trace his descent through an ape as his grandfather, would he be willing to trace his descent similarly on the side of his grandmother?” “The audience greeted this with rapturous applause.” Huxley responded: “A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would rather be a man who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of [religious] activity plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance.” [I.e., the Bishop!] At this point “bedlam broke out...and ladies fainted from shock. From that moment the relationship of science to religion would never again be the same.” [Fadiman, revised ed., 283f.] To which I can only say, “Amen!”

I close with this prayer of the scientist and the priest, Father Teilhard de Chardin:

Lord, we know and feel that you are everywhere around us; but it seems that there is a veil before our eyes. Let the light of your countenance shine upon us in its fullness. May your deep brilliance light up the innermost part of the [shadows] in which we move. And, to that end, send us your Spirit, whose flaming action alone can operate the birth and achievement of the great transformation which sums up all inward perfection and towards the unity for which your creation yearns. [The Divine Milieu, p. 132]

This year represents the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (12 February 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species in 1859. This backdrop provides a rich opportunity to demonstrate that religion and science have much to offer one another. Please join us and congregations all around the world in celebrating Evolution Weekend 2009!

13 -15 February 2009 -- Evolution Weekend

From the Clergy Letter “Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic - to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.

Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy. Through sermons, discussion groups, meaningful conversations and seminars, the leaders listed below will show that religion and science are not adversaries.

To examine some of the sermons members of The Clergy Letter Project have delivered on this topic and to view some of the resources they have found useful, click this link: http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/rel_evolution_weekend_2009.htm

In a few generations, evolution would not be in conflict with creationism, when we fully grasp the wisdom of the word of God (creator or cause of creation.) All the religions that subscribe to the idea of Adam's creation need to ponder on God's word - if God meant he created Adam out of thin air or he let that thing called Adam evolve through the process of creation.

Let the discussions for and against continue, on the way, we would learn more about it.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, interfaith, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama speaks at prayer breakfast

The world is going in the right direction now, this is what God wanted all of us to do, to mitigate conflicts, nurture goodwill, accept each one's uniqueness and co-exist in peace. Following Jesus means that, submitting to Allah's will means that, surrendering to Krishna means that and every faith subscribes to this this idea.

My prayers for Obama to live a long life and be the catalyst for a positive inclusive change. Amen

Mike Ghouse

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Remarks of President Barack Obama
National Prayer Breakfast
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Washington, DC

Good morning. I want to thank the Co-Chairs of this breakfast, Representatives Heath Shuler and Vernon Ehlers. I’d also like to thank Tony Blair for coming today, as well as our Vice President, Joe Biden, members of my Cabinet, members of Congress, clergy, friends, and dignitaries from across the world.

Michelle and I are honored to join you in prayer this morning. I know this breakfast has a long history in Washington, and faith has always been a guiding force in our family’s life, so we feel very much at home and look forward to keeping this tradition alive during our time here.

It’s a tradition that I’m told actually began many years ago in the city of Seattle. It was the height of the Great Depression, and most people found themselves out of work. Many fell into poverty. Some lost everything.

The leaders of the community did all that they could for those who were suffering in their midst. And then they decided to do something more: they prayed. It didn’t matter what party or religious affiliation to which they belonged. They simply gathered one morning as brothers and sisters to share a meal and talk with God.

These breakfasts soon sprouted up throughout Seattle, and quickly spread to cities and towns across America, eventually making their way to Washington. A short time after President Eisenhower asked a group of Senators if he could join their prayer breakfast, it became a national event. And today, as I see presidents and dignitaries here from every corner of the globe, it strikes me that this is one of the rare occasions that still brings much of the world together in a moment of peace and goodwill.

I raise this history because far too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another – as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered. For centuries, entire religions have been persecuted, all in the name of perceived righteousness.

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

It is an ancient rule; a simple rule; but also one of the most challenging. For it asks each of us to take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of people we may not know or worship with or agree with on every issue. Sometimes, it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds. And that requires a living, breathing, active faith. It requires us not only to believe, but to do – to give something of ourselves for the benefit of others and the betterment of our world.

In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state. This work is important, because whether it’s a secular group advising families facing foreclosure or faith-based groups providing job-training to those who need work, few are closer to what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them.

We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith. I don’t expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge. In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding.

This is my hope. This is my prayer.

I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.

In different ways and different forms, it is that spirit and sense of purpose that drew friends and neighbors to that first prayer breakfast in Seattle all those years ago, during another trying time for our nation. It is what led friends and neighbors from so many faiths and nations here today. We come to break bread and give thanks and seek guidance, but also to rededicate ourselves to the mission of love and service that lies at the heart of all humanity. As St. Augustine once said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."

So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead. For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God. I ask you to join me in that effort, and I also ask that you pray for me, for my family, and for the continued perfection of our union. Thank you.

Rabbi initiates Muslim-Jewish teamwork

Rabbi initiates Muslim-Jewish teamwork

Peace is the responsibility of every one, every one needs to pitch in and work for a world of co-existence and hope. I am pleased to read this initiative.
Mike Ghouse

February 6th, 2009
Rabbi wants to bring U.S. Muslim-Jewish teamwork to Europe

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/02/06/rabbi-wants-to-bring-us-muslim-jewish-teamwork-to-europe/comment-page-0/#comment-10226

Rabbi Marc Schneier, a New York Jewish leader who has helped to build bridges with American Muslims, is planning to bring his campaign to Europe to help ease the anger fed by bloodshed in Gaza. “In the light of the recent conflict in Gaza, Jewish-Muslim tensions have been exacerbated,” Schneier, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, told Reuters during a recent visit to London. “We have seen a rise, I would say an exponential growth in anti-Semitic attacks, rhetoric coming from the Muslim world. We cannot allow for Islamic fundamentalism to grow.”

(Photo: Rabbi Marc Schneier/FFEU)
Schneier helped to bring together thousands of Jews and Muslims across America last November in an initiative in which 50 mosques were twinned with 50 synagogues over a weekend. Jews and Muslims worked together in community projects, formed study groups and got a better understanding of each other’s faith. They publicised this in the short video below and a full-page ad in the New York Times available here in PDF.

An eloquent and persuasive speaker, Schneier has advocated closer links between Jewish and Afro-American communities through the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, where he has worked with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Schneier feels there is a need for action at the grass-roots level to help heal the rift between Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe. He is planning to repeat his ”Weekend of Twinning” this November and wants to extend it to Britain from North America. “Jewish-Muslim relations are a great concern here in Europe, so we wanted to bring this programme across the Atlantic,” he said.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews told me they were very interested in the project and wanted to develop it here, building on their own linking programme. However, the climate is not easy. Israel’s invasion of Gaza in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed has sparked fresh tensions between the two groups in Europe.

An umbrella group of French Jewish groups last week asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to ensure that authorities do more to stem a rise in anti-Jewish crime. Britain has also seen protests over Israel’s campaign.

(Photo: Pro-Palestinian protesters in Paris, 24 Jan 2009/Gonzalo Fuentes)
Schneier dismissed concerns that members of close-knit Muslim communities in European countries such as Britain and France would be harder to reach than their counterparts in the United States, who tend to be better integrated into U.S. life.

“The challenge here is more of a language barrier than a social or cultural barrier. What we did in North America wasn’t an easy task either. There was much hesitation on both sides,” he said. “I see around the world there are pockets of moderation emerging within Islam. We cannot spurn the hands of the moderates in the Muslim world.”

Schneier’s initiative seems to be working in the United States, but can it be transplanted to Europe? We’d like to hear your comments here.