Archive for November, 2009


Engaging Religious Diversity On Campus: The Role of Interfaith Leadership

Check out this new article! “Engaging Religious Diversity on Campus” was written by IFYC’s Eboo Patel and Cassie Meyer. It was published in The Journal of College and Character this month.


As the Max DePree line goes, “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality” (Depree, 2004, p. 11). The refrain of clash is loud and clear not because it is the norm or inevitable, but because there are voices offering it as a compelling reading of this sort of incident.
We urgently need a new kind of leader—leaders able to articulate a compelling vision of interfaith cooperation that can speak over the din of clash and conflict, and leaders with skills for bringing those of different religious and philosophical backgrounds together around a shared common good.
We believe that this kind of leadership is about more than just maintaining a fragile sense of tolerance, but of actually creating a cultural shift, so that interfaith cooperation is not an anomaly but becomes a social norm. Consider that about a hundred years ago, the term “environmentalist” meant very little. “Human rights activist” was a new idea fifty years ago.
Now these are clear identity categories that carry expectations for behavior and action. Recycling is a social norm with a leadership category of “environmentalist” attached to it. We believe that a network of compelling, articulate interfaith leaders could make interfaith cooperation a social norm, with clear expectations for behavior and action.
Colleges and universities have the potential to play a vanguard role in creating this social norm, nurturing a generation of interfaith leaders who will then take this framework into their
careers and lives beyond college. As a campus shapes interfaith leaders, those leaders in turn will reinforce and transform their campuses for sustained interfaith cooperation. Most campuses take seriously the need to educate students who are able to engage constructively with global issues.
As one of the authors of this article has written in a previous issue of this journal, the way that campuses address issues like race and multiculturalism can provide a model for how campuses can engage “religious diversity in a way that impacts individual campuses, the broader system of higher education, the country we live in and perhaps even the world” (Patel, 2007, p. 5).
View the entire article here!



No Multifaith Tomorrow!

Good morning, friends and fans of Multifaith Alliance!

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, we will not meet for our weekly feast and conversation. We will meet up again on Thursday, December 3 for our last Multifaith of the semester! We hope to see you there.

On that note, travel safely, have a fun Thanksgiving, and enjoy a safe, warm fall season! 🙂


Food and Food Justice

Wow – last night’s event was amazing! What a beautiful feast, and what a great group of people to share it with. We had an excellent conversation, including questions like:

  • What do religious traditions say about creation and food?
  • What are religious customs’ relationships with food? Fastings? Feasts? Holidays?
  • How do certain meals or lack thereof relate to you? Your family? Your cultural upbringing?
  • How would different cultural, religious, or spiritual traditions approach the issue of food justice? What would Jesus say about the relationship between poverty and malnutrition? What would Mohammed say about the complex relationship between subsidies and unhealthy foods? How do the Upanishads’ creation story speak to business practices and consumption?

Also, food for thought – what do we teach our children about food? About fast food? About corporations? Do we idolize these figures and companies? In this clip from Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”, American children can immediately identify characters like Wendy, Ronald McDonald, and others, but struggle with identifying other important figures. Watch and learn:

And Robert Kenner’s “Food, Inc.”, we witness an American family struggle with poverty, medical needs, and the necessity of fast food. What can our traditions and customs say to them?

Check out the trailer:

Finally, remember that we are NOT meeting next week due to Thanksgiving! We will meet again for our final Multifaith session on Thursday, December 3.


Multifaith Alliance & National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: Food and Food Justice

Good morning, friends and fans of Multifaith Alliance!

Just in time for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, this week Multifaith Alliance is discussing food and food justice! How do different cultural, spiritual, and religious traditions engage with food? What can we learn from harvest festivals, holidays, fasts, feasts, and other religious customs? How do different heritages speak to food justice, and humanity’s relationship with nourishment and the earth?

Join us at 6:00 pm on Thursday in the Bush Student Center Chapel for a free meal, great conversation, and plenty of questions for the road! Dinner is served and newcomers are always encouraged!

(Also, I’ve heard down the grapevine that Hamline SPROUT might be making an appearance with us! Regardless, please attend and support their “Bring It To the Table” event, a panel on food justice, on Tuesday at 7:30 pm!)

Thanks, and I hope to see you there!



Good News and Even Better News

[the good news]

For last night’s Multifaith, we discussed current events in the media, the United States, and the world. We brought forth a lot of critical topics, discussed key issues, shared personal stories, and inspired valuable questions about religion, identity, cultural perception, labels, youth, passion, community, and the future!

On Ft. Hood, the shooter’s authentic or perceived Muslim identity, and cultural response

CNN, Nov 11: Official: Fort Hood suspect asked military to give Muslims an out

Washington Post, Nov 6: On Faith: The murderer at Ft. Hood

We also evaluated a small sampling of comments on the latter article (Dr. Eboo Patel’s editorial, featured in the Washington Post’s “On Faith”).

These are not the views of Multifaith Alliance, but instead the views of various people who commented on the article.

No one man speaks for a religion (positively or negatively) but each man has the right to his religion. Even a murderer. This man is a Muslim.”

“This event has no deep meaning. An antisocial loner went off the deep end and killed some innocent bystanders. No different from the guy in the Holocaust Museum, except that he was more successful at it… The Muslim-American community has performed a key positive role in the war on terror. They have organized, reported, reformed, counseled and fought the good fight against poisonous religious ideology from overseas. [People who think otherwise] owe Muslim-Americans an apology.”

Firstly, I am sorry Mr. Patel but, in fact, a Muslim did do this. It is possible to be both a murderer and a Muslim, as we have seen time and time again. Secondly, it is becoming clear that this man was not merely Muslim in name but a devout Muslim who was actually involved in proselytizing.”

“The previous 5 or 10 rampage murderers here in the US, notably in VA Tech, Columbine, and others, were carried out by Christians, or at least people raised in a predominantly Christian culture and environment. However, no one seemed to notice that or damn them from belonging to a religion that condemns mass murder.”

Show us with your actions, Muslims. Turn in the murderers among you. Turn in your brother, your father or your cousin who plans to kill. Then we, the 300,000,000 non-Muslim Americans may start to take you seriously. Until then: I hate you.”

“If this man was a Christian, the media wouldn’t be describing him as “A Christian American.” Christian groups wouldn’t feel the need to decry his actions. No one would expect them to.”

“”Allahu Akbar” is Arabic for “Kill Innocents”.”

What do these comments mean? What can we learn from them? What can we take from these comments and translate into our positive actions?

On emergent youth culture and new passion for religion, and what it means for faith and religious traditions

CNN, October 30: ‘New Jews’ stake claim to faith, culture

On religious diversity in the Armed Forces, and potential results and possibilities

CNN, October 28: Army allows Sikh to keep beard, turban, uncut hair

On the lines between cults and religions, scams and non-profits, and who decides

WIRED, October 27: France Convicts Scientology of Fraud

It was a fantastic conversation and opened up tons of compelling questions and conversation!

[the even better news]

April Palo, your fearless student leader, is studying abroad in Ireland in Spring 2010. That means Multifaith Alliance needs someone to step up and be a leader! Will anyone come forward?

Lo and behold, our prayers have been answered in the form of… Rola Alkatout!

Rola is a sophomore Psychology major and a RA here at Hamline. She’s outgoing and gregarious, and will make a great leader of discussions! She’s also thoughtful, responsible, and a committed student leader. We’re very excited that she’ll be taking the helm, and we’re thrilled to have such a great interfaith leader working on Multifaith this next semester!

Go Rola, and look out for an awesome Spring 2010!



For your viewing pleasure – last week’s video!

Our talk on atheism was wonderful. Defining atheism, agnosticism, non-theism, and atheistic faith systems was a whole conversation unto itself, and exploring social perceptions and labels was the icing on the cake. Thanks for a great discussion!

Be sure to stop by this week for our discussion on politics, the media, and current events!


Tomorrow’s Multifaith Alliance Topic: Atheism!

Hey, friends and fans of Multifaith Alliance!

Just a quick reminder – tomorrow’s discussion will be about atheism! We’re also going to be exploring agnosticism, humanism, secular societies, non-theist faith traditions, and more. Join in the discussion as we explore issues of the human community, faith, spirituality, religion, labels, cultural perception, and challenging questions!

Multifaith meets at 6:00pm on Thursdays in the Chapel. Our discussions are for everyone. Dinner is served, and newcomers are always encouraged!

See you there,