A couple of weeks ago the Peace Council met at Union Theological Seminary. The Dalai Lama was there, lending visibility to the assemblage, but there are twenty peace councilors and the latest manifestation of the Buddha of compassion is just one.
Monday night they had an "interfaith service" at the Riverside Church, a ceremony that would have made RageBoy proud. First there were fish, big paper fish being rippled along overhead on long poles. After the young people with the fish on their poles had processed, the dignitaries found their way in beneath the fish. They were preceded by some people with brooms, sweeping something up (fish poo?) and there were humongous puppets in the procession, monkey puppets I think, but I could have that wrong... and the twenty peace councilors, in red robes, orange robes, blue robes, gray robes... about two thirds of them representing the monotheistic Abrahamic religions and a third representing the rest of the mainstream... Jain, Buddhist, Hindu. Really, try to put together an "interfaith service" for the breadth of professed believe in that group... even RB would be hard pressed to fire something up more diffuse than a fish and monkey puppets and brooms motif.
One of the purposes of the gathering was to give the Peace Council an opportunity to meet with winners of the Tanenbaum Center's Peacemaker in Action awards. They were also gathered to follow up on their 2004 Chiang Mai declaration on Women, Globalization and Religion.
The number one purpose for the get together according to the program was, "To review threats to peace that are posed by the growing political influence of extremist or 'fundamentalist' religious viewpoints and groups, and to discuss or plan responses to these trends." And the meeting notes make it pretty clear they're as concerned, perhaps MORE concerned about American christian fundies than they are about Sunnis and Shi'ites. Dr. Joseph Hough, president of Union Theological Seminary, opened a discussion on the growing political power of the “religious right” in the United States and its influence on domestic and foreign policy.
But the real reason these peeps got together was because - face it - they're party animals.
... if in the mysticism of silence we grow in awareness of That which grounds us and gives us inner, personal peace, in the mysticism of service we have the opportunity to sense and know That which connects us and calls us to care for and love each other. In the mysticism of silence, I feel that I am one with the Divine; in the mysticism of service I realize that I am one with you, in the Divine.
- Dr. Paul F. Knitter