Not Politics

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"I ask you to keep doing what you are doing," said the governor. Here in South Carolina it is rare that a public official acknowledges any religions besides Christianity and sometimes Judaism.   But Governor Nikki Haley is no stranger to the minority experience, having grown up as a first-generation Indian-American in rural S.C. in a family which practiced the Sikh religion.  As she noted on a previous occasion, she has faced several challenges in her career: being female, being … [Read more...]

Interfaith and the U.S. Armed Forces

Dr. Carl Evans of IPSC and Chaplain Mike Lembke, Dir. of the Center for World Religions

The military as an example of daily interfaith relations? Never having been a soldier, it had not occurred to me, but that’s one of the things I heard at a remarkable meeting this week at the U.S. Armed Forces Chaplains School and Center, here in Columbia, S.C., at Fort Jackson. The Chaplains School was hosting the annual meeting of Interfaith Partners of S.C., and “host” would be an understatement for the outstanding experience they provided. From the time I parked my car across the … [Read more...]

One Year Later

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My personal and professional life have been keeping me pretty much disconnected from my usual routines, and to be honest, I didn't know what I wanted to write about today until I noticed the date:  August 5th. One year ago today, a gunman opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara killing six worshipers and then himself. I can honestly say that I cannot even begin to understand that experience.  When I was practicing Judaism, there were occasions where our synagogue was vandalized with swastika or … [Read more...]

Religious Leadership Diversity Workshop at Hartford Seminary: a Review

David Dashifen Kees and two other participants at the religious leadership diversity workshop 2013

As I mentioned briefly in my prior post, I spent the week of June 8 through June 14 at Hartford Seminary attending the Religious Leadership Diversity Workshop.  The workshop has been running for a few years, and the seminary works to bring together people of various faiths to try and create an experience for attendees that both allows for the sharing of personal stories and points of view and helps to educate them on various faiths and faith practices as well as multifaith chaplaincy, conflict … [Read more...]

And All God’s Children Said “Waheguru”

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The Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina held the opening and dedication for their new gurdwara building on June 16. It was a lovely affair marked by the beginning of sung prayers (kirtan) on Friday at noon, and lasting until sometime on Sunday. (I’m in awe of those musicians!) The new building is beautiful, the colorful saris and scarves to die for, and the langar meal afterwards was delicious, as always. Sikh leaders were most anxious that religious leaders from as many religions as … [Read more...]

News Arboretum

Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape

Women of Many Faiths had its monthly meeting last night here in Columbia, SC.  We loved being in the home of our Muslim friend Gul, who was hosting the meeting for the first time.  I always enjoy seeing what kind of art, books and bric-a-brac adorn the homes of my friends from other cultures.  Lots of people bring refreshments to share; since I don’t cook much any more, I had a bottle of rosewater to take my hostess, whose name means “rose” in Persian and Urdu languages. I was a bit … [Read more...]

Of Turbans and Tribes

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Zinging around the Pagan blogosphere these days I find an extraordinary amount of navel-gazing going on. Are we polytheist or monotheist or agnostic? Are we a community? Do we have a theology and if so, what is it? Who are our elders and who should listen to them? Is belief naive? Is practice incomplete without belief? How do we define ourselves, or is that even necessary? Last weekend’s Gathering of Faiths interfaith festival in Columbia (SC) offered a refreshing perspective for the … [Read more...]


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