Archive for February, 2011

25
Feb
11

Religious Objects

Over candles and a table crowded with items of religious significance, we talked about a lot of compelling questions last night! At our interfaith dialogue about the power of religious objects, we tackled a lot of tough questions!

What are all the different religious objects you can think of? We talked about everything from crosses or prayer beads to bodies, tattoos, songs, and prayers…
What makes such objects significant? Can a person make an object holy, or must holiness come from some other source? Do you give an item worth, or does it influence you?

What happens when objects’ meanings change over time? We talked a lot about indigenous communities’ names and symbols, swastikas, the ying yang, and other objects… Sometimes objects’ meanings change naturally, but sometimes they are appropriated. What’s wrong with this? How do we fix it?Do you ever appropriate symbols or objects?

During times of religious persecution (e.g., Jews during the Holocaust, Christians in medieval Japan), people sometimes had to spit on or break their holy objects. Would you defile or destroy a holy object to avoid persecution?

There is a story of a Buddhist coming upon another Buddhist, chopping up a statue of the Buddha and using it for firewood. Horrified, the first Buddhist says, “Why are you doing this?” The second Buddhist says, “The Buddha’s not in there!” Let’s say you are Christian or Jewish – would you burn the Cross or the Torah for firewood? Would you defile or destroy a holy object to survive the elements?

Sikhs in the military and on airplanes (having to cut their hair or not wear their dagger): What should the armed forces or airlines do? Would you feel comfortable sitting next to someone if they had a dagger that you could see? Why or why not?

Sometimes obtaining religious objects necessitates tough actions – for example, use of leather or feathers to make it (as in tefillin or some Native American prayers). Would you kill a cow or trap a bald eagle to get the leather or feathers? Would you kill an animal to participate in a religious ritual? If not, do you think it’s okay for people of other traditions to do it? What about animal sacrifices?

We hope that these and other questions will help inspire you to think, change, grow, and consider things in a new light.
Thanks to all for a great conversation! Add your input below!

18
Feb
11

religion, politics, and social justice

Last night, we had a great discussion about various topics pertaining to social justice issues, protesting, religion, and the publics right to defend what they believe.
Feeling all sorts of empowered after a day at the capital, the conversation for the night was a great one that I hope will be continued onto other conversations.

Day on the Hill was great. Rola and Megan got the chance to hear Mark Dayton in the morning to start off the day which was great to hear. It was a great feeling to be surrounded by 850+ people who were going to the capital for the same reasons that you were- protecting the safety nets that help thousands of people in Minnesota who are homeless, ill, or living in poverty. We were ready for a full day of lobbying and chatting with people about issues we were concerned about.

When thinking about budgets, it can be looked at as a moral document.  Across the nation, about 300 different congregations came up with 6 points to a budget:

  1. Does the budget provide those in need with the assistance necessary to build self- reliant, purposeful lives?
  2. Does the budget provide adequately for all of God’s children, including the poor and sick, the old and very young?
  3. Does the budget strengthen the foundations of our country in order to make us safer and more secure?
  4. Does the budget protect God’s creation, the environment?
  5. Does the budget spread its burdens and rewards fairly, or are some groups given special unearned privilege, while others are excluded?
  6. Does the budget promote justice and equality by providing for basic human needs in health care, education, housing and other areas?

When talking about these 6 points at Multifaith, we all came to agree that budgets, and Minnesota’s specifically, did not follow them. This lead to the conversation about how politicians default to their religions for reasons why they make certain decisions, and how they are good (insert faith here). But when it gets down to it, the people who are the most at risk with these budget cuts are the ones who make the least amount of money, the ones who have no health or child care, and are living in a homeless state trying to work their way out of it. If we were all really good Christians, Muslims,  or Buddhists, there wouldn’t be these kinds of major problems. In most of the major religious texts, we are told as followers of that specific religion to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves, to defer from greediness and share your wealth. In Proverbs 22:16, it says ” One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich- both come to poverty”  This may  not mean that within the person’s life they will become impoverished, but maybe in the afterlife, or maybe in a way that affects a loved one’s life. The overall point is its our duty as people, religious or not, to take care of others who can’t completely take care of themselves. If we want to be truthful to our religion, we have to keep others in mind and not be so wrapped up in our own selves.

Throughout the night, our personal concerns and frustrations were brought up, but it was great to know that we, as members of the state have the power to show our disagreements on certain policies. Ways to show this are going to the capital, writing letters to legislators, and also having conversations about them as well. We can’t forget that our voices are very powerful and what we have to say is just as important as any politician at the state capital 🙂

16
Feb
11

Real Issues: Water, JRLC, and Interfaith

Today, we’d like to share about real, daily issues in human life. Specifically, last week we talked about water, and this week we will be discussing JRLC’s Day on the Hill!

WATER

Water is a religious, cultural, political, and economic issue. The presence of water in our world ranges from baptism to bombs, from nature to nationalism, from bottled water to protected traditions. Here are some resources we discussed last week:

The Right to Water in Palestine
If Americans Knew: Water in Palestine
The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water
Flood Legends from Around the World
Talk Origins: Flood Stories from Around the World

We hope you enjoy these, and we hope your conversation keeps going!

JRLC’S DAY ON THE HILL

JRLC, or Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, is an interfaith lobby group. JRLC works with local religious communities and politically active youth to advocate progressive change in government.

Some of you may remember when Joint Religious Legislative Coalition came to Multifaith in the Fall. Two staff members talked about the organization and their big day at the capital called Day On The HillDay on the Hill is the centerpiece of their work and a huge opportunity for religious and youth members of society to make change!

Now, that day is approaching and we wanted to give people the opportunity to join us on February 17th! The day begins at 8:30 AM and the last shuttle at the end of the day will be at 4:00 PM. You’ll have the chance to talk to the legislator in your district about issues on poverty, rights to healthcare, and state budgets. For the detailed schedule of the day or if you’re interested or would like more details, visit JRLC’s website at http://www.jrlc.org. If you’re unable to lobby or stay for the entire day, there are also some volunteer opportunities. These include help during registration, ushering people to buses, cleanup after breakfast, and walking around the capital making sure there isn’t any improper behavior. If you’re interested in anything for the 17th, please contact the Wesley Center so we can get you registered. Get in touch with Rola (ralkatout01@hamlineuniversity.edu) for questions!

That evening, Rola will be facilitating a discussion in Multifaith about JRLC, their lobby positions, the role of religious traditions and the role of government. Join us for some food, conversation, and hopefully some controversy!

Let’s stir things up and get talking! See you there!

14
Feb
11

12 Students, 6+ Traditions, 3+ Hours: 1 Awesome Day

This week has been such an incredible success for our interfaith campaign at Hamline! Following on the heels of Tuesday’s mindblowing event, Saturday was our first Better Together + Taking Root interfaith service project! And let me tell you, it was amazing.

12 Hamline students showed up, an unbelievable number for our campus. As we shared about why we were there and a little about our faith or philosophical perspectives, I was blown away by how many people shared such diverse stories! Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Humanist, and Multifaith identities were all represented, and everyone had a different motivation for coming, a different tale to tell. I was honored to be part of such a dedicated group!

At about 2:30pm, we piled into a Hamline van and a volunteer’s car — there were too many of us for one vehicle! — and traveled to Taking Root’s storage facility, where we met Holly (a Taking Root staff member). We spent some time loading up furniture, including a couch and dresser and tables and chairs. All of us made the work go by quickly, and it wasn’t long before we were able to head straight over to Minneapolis to meet Abdi and his friends.

It was a very quick move-in, and it was definitely nice to see his new place and exchange greetings with his friends. Abdi’s got a nice, clean apartment, a warm roof over his head, a place to sleep, and now — thanks to Better Together + Taking Root — some furniture! He and his friends were all really nice guys and really happy to be working with us, and we were honored to be sharing their experience with them.

It was one amazing volunteer day! Many hands made light work, and we can’t wait for some beefier projects and more engaged work next month. Until then, I am going to leave you with this picture, and a note from the kind stranger who took it for us:

Chris LeMay, the gentlemen who took the picture, wrote to me later:

“As a father of 4 kids, I can tell you I was impressed and encouraged by what you are doing. It is very nice to see college students serving and thinking about others. Good luck to all of you and may God bless you!”

09
Feb
11

Stories and Service Rhymed Tonight

On Tuesday, February 8 at 7:30pm in the HUB, stories and service paired together and rhymed in a way I have never experienced before.

Over 35 Hamline students showed up!


We collected a huge pile of donations, including four huge garbage bags of clothing and household items, a TV, a warm winter jacket, and tons of groceries…

We heard from Gail Anderson, sharing about Taking Heart meals as a model for interfaith relationships…

We heard from Lynea Geinert, sharing her experiences working with Taking Root, an interfaith refugee resettlement program. She told the story of how a young Somali mother with five children wrapped her arms around her, thanking her over and over with the only word in English she knew: “America… America!”


I talked about Better Together’s involvement, how we are collecting donations and volunteering on Saturday, and I shared my personal story of volunteering with a family reunited for the first time…


We heard from Gangaj, from Bhutan, Nepal. After spending 18 years living in a refugee camp without access to enough food or water and surrounded by death and disease, she was resettled in the US in December 2009. Today she is doing very well, her health is good, and she’s training to be a nurse’s assistant…

Last but not least, we all enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation, and we all shared our commitment toward building a better future together.

What’s next? Join us at 2:00pm on Saturday, February 12 at the Bishop!

We will be doing some pre-volunteering discussion, then we’re going to hop in a Hamline van and drive to our service site. We will be moving in a fresh apartment for a young man named Abdinasir Ahmed Mohammed, who is being reunited with his family this week! We should be back around 6:00pm.

Thank you all, and I can’t wait for our next step forward together.

For more photos of the event, please check out my Facebook album.
For videos of Gail, Lynea, Gangaj, and myself, please check out my YouTube channel.

07
Feb
11

Want to join us at the capital?!

Some of you may remember when Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) came to Multifaith in the fall to talk about the organization and their big day at the capital ‘Day On The Hill’. That day is approaching and we wanted to give people the opportunity to join us on February 17th! The day begins at 8:30 AM and the last shuttle at the end of the day will be at 4:00 PM. You’ll have the chance to talk to the legislator in your district about issues on poverty, rights to healthcare, and state budgets. For the detailed schedule of the day or if you’re interested or would like more details, visit JRLC’s website at http://www.jrlc.org. If you’re unable to lobby or stay for the entire day, there are also some volunteer opportunities. These include help during registration, ushering people to buses, cleanup after breakfast, and walking around the capital making sure there isn’t any improper behavior. If you’re interested in anything for the 17th, please contact the Wesley Center so we can get you registered. Questions? Email ralkatout01@hamlineuniversity.edu. Hope you can join us!

07
Feb
11

what did you dream last night?

Dreams are very complex and interesting. There are tons and tons of websites and books about how to interpret what a dream meant or why we dream in the first place. There are so many questions that go along with dreams as well… why do we dream, how do we dream, why can’t we remember the dreams even though they were so vivid, and many more. To start, dreams can include any of the images, thoughts and emotions that are experienced during sleep. Dreams can be extraordinarily vivid or very vague; filled with joyful emotions or frightening imagery; focused and understandable or unclear and confusing. Another type of dream is a nightmare, which can be defined as a disturbing dream that causes you to wake up feeling anxious and frightened.
There’s obviously a wide range of what dreams can mean, we had also described what meanings dreams have within Christianity. There are 2 types, prophetic and warning dreams. The prophetic dreams concern with the things of direct relevance to the dreamer. The Bible says anyone could have a prophetic dream from God. The meanings of a prophetic dream are not clear and would require an interpretation. Warning dreams can be interpreted dreams as the ones which warns the dreamer. It is believed these dreams are God-sent and implies what would happen in the near future. It’s very interesting because seeing the devil in dreams is one of the most common things that people have dreamt. If you see the Devil in his usual context—in a pit full of fire, surrounded by demons—then you’d better ask yourself what guilty secret you’re hiding and how it applies to your present circumstances. If the Devil speaks to you and seems friendly, then you’re going to be faced with a temptation that will prove difficult to resist. If you fight him, you’ll resist that temptation. If you see the Devil with someone you know, that person may be trying to manipulate you to serve his own ends.
The topic of dreams left us at Multifaith with a conversation filled with sharing dreams that we’ve remembered and questions as to why we dreamt what we did. It depends on the person how deep into the meaning of dreams you want to get. Dreams usually do relate to how you’re feeling in real life or goes along with a stress or worry that you’ve got in your mind.
Want to know what things in your dream mean? Visit this website- http://www.dreammoods.com