Saturday, September 22, 2007

Multi-Faith Healing Dinner: Toledo Islamic Academy

I attended a Ramadan Fast Breaking dinner as guests of the Toledo Islamic Academy which incurred racist graffiti on its building two days ago. We were invited to a special dinner and listened to a number of guests speak of coming together in a healing process. Erase the Hate was one of the sponsors of tonight's event.

There were perhaps 50 non-Muslims in attendance and we felt a very warm welcome by the Imam and principal of the academy who thanked us again and again for attending the service with them.

At our table was a charming family from Paris who had emigrated there from Algeria. They were bright and warm people and we discussed the mutual love for all of mankind devoid of ethnic or religious beliefs. It was grand to be surrounded by folks of so many different faith traditions, breaking bread together on a special night in the Islamic faith.

My mind wandered throughout the meal to those ugly people living right here in America such as Representative king from New York who recently said that there were too many mosques in America. Or those intolerant fundamentalist Christians who demand that their religion is the only road to salvation and who demand a litmus test of American politicians.

That is where the hate begins. That is why the graffiti was sprayed on the buildings. That is why the nooses hung from the white-only tree in Louisiana. Hate for folks different than they. Bigotry deep in the heart.

God does not live in hearts such as those; there is no room for God in such empty souls as those. Yet God was clearly in that dinner hall this evening and in each person dining there with me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

IHM Nuns in Monroe Michigan are Going Green

The IHM Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are teaching sisters who have educated tens of thousands of students in Metro Detroit. In an article in the Detroit News it says:

".. it might seem easy to conclude that the aging nuns in the order have accomplished most of the work they believe God intended for them. But life is long and the nuns say they believe it is all sacred."

Said Sister Joan Mumaw, vice president of the order, "We're educated women. Most of us have master's degrees and PhDs. So, even today, even though we have sisters in their 80s and 90s, we are still learning theology in the light of new science, in the light of new understandings"

The sisters were facing enormous energy bills for their massive 75-year-old mother house and so they decided to make it green. Most of the nuns living there are 10 years older than the building.

"So they have set a new path, emphasizing the environment and scientific discoveries as part of their spirituality. A nationally acclaimed $56 million renovation of their huge mother house, which last week received another in a long list of awards from the Environmental Protection Agency, and a newly published booklet are but two examples of their unique fusion of faith, science and the human condition."

Two of the most important renovations that were undertaken were to save on heating and water costs.

"The sisters paid to build a massive geothermal heating and cooling system. The technology uses 240 wells and 47 miles of underground pipes to take advantage of the constant, 55-degree temperature of the earth to decrease the use of natural gas by 58.3 percent -- an annual savings of about $200,000. They cut water consumption nearly in half by installing new fixtures and building a wetland on the property that collects water from sinks, showers and tubs and recycles it to flush the toilets."

How refreshing to note the care for protecting the resources of the earth in these sisters. I might add that it is encouraging to note that these religious women were able to evolve their thinking about God, creation, evolution and science and take that faith to a newer, higher level of action.

"This month, the teaching order published "Four Stories: Integrating the Universe Story, the Christian Story, the Earth Story and the IHM Story." The nuns hope the work demonstrates how melding scientific discoveries with Roman Catholic theology and their personal declaration of a "spirituality of kinship with all members of the Earth community" yields a devotion to God that is both vibrant and worldly.

In "Four Stories," Sister Mary Ellen Sheehan, a theologian, and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary embrace the current scientific account of the universe and evolution, as well as the Christian story of faith and the history of their order."

Hats off to the good sisters 35 miles to the north for using their scientific brains to honor Creation.

It is noteworthy to point out that the Franciscan Sisters both in Sylvania and Tiffin Ohio have a similar calling to protect their environment and to promote care for the earth.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Celebration of Race Equality Day

Today at the Toledo Botanical Gardens hundreds of people gathered for a Taste of Diversity, Celebrate Race Equality Day. Folks from Africa and Asia joined with Europeans and Americans to listen to music, to taste the food of many cultures, and to listen to readings of unity of mankind. The event was presented by The City of Toledo Board of Community Relations, Metroparks of the Toledo Area and Toledo Botanical Garden: supporting the mission and vision of the Erase the Hate campaign.

As I wandered through the crowd, I had a sense of what world peace might look like, without borders, without racial and ethnic hate, without armaments. The Irish flag at left reminded me that people with centuries of hate can come together in peace.

While I was exiting the celebration, Chinese music was being played adding to the sense of wonder of the shade garden in its autumn colors. Earlier, dancers from El Corozon de Mexico entertained the crowd. Black soul music added to the flavor of today's melting pot.

A woman from Nigeria displayed clothing from her nation and explained, in her beautiful British English, the process involved in its fabrication.

Two older men, one with a thick Italian accent and the other British, were discussing world politics. What a grand venue for that discussion on this cool crisp autumn afternoon.

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