rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
I went to a meeting today at the Jain Center in Milpitas. I had been there for at least one other event, but today my fellow SiVIC board member, Girish Shah, gave me a tour of their amazing temple. They had marble statues carved in India with their twenty-four known Tīrthaṅkars (leaders/prophets/role models who advanced Jainism) and various other beings who in Hinduism would be considered Gods and Goddesses but have the same name in Jainism but are considered ascended people. There is so much carved marble they had to reinforce their building to hold it. Their incense is very lovely and the temple room had a wonderful welcoming energy. This is the entryway, I didn't take any pictures of the temple itself (out of respect) but do check out the header on their web page for some statues. picture )
The program was "Religious Education in Middle Schools: Challenges & Opportunities". We opened with introductions to the topic by Samir Kalra, a Director and Senior Human Rights Fellow for the Hindu-American Foundation and by Garth Pickett, the interfaith relations director for the regional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I had no idea that this was an issue, being kinda a "separation of church & state" kinda gal. But the California Education Code Section 60044(a) and Subsection (b) have the purpose "The standards enable all students to become aware and accepting of religious diversity while being allowed to remain secure in any religious beliefs they may already have." Evidently teaching *about* religions helps prevent bullying and has other positive effects. Garth talked about the World Religions curriculum in Modesto (described in this Stanford study ) and various other programs around the country where the anti-bullying effect was noted. There is a bill wending its way through the legislature (SB 1057) that wants to update the content standards on what must be taught. Guess that bill is something to which I will pay attention.

Anyway, it was very well attended and provoked lively discussion and I'm glad I went.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
We got this press release at SiVIC and I agreed to head over to the event.

On Monday, November 25, 2013 at 12:00pm in front of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statute on the San Jose State Campus, the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP will be joined by the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, the National Office the NAACP, San Jose State University Leadership, bay area community leaders and civil rights activists in a press conference condemning the actions of the three San Jose State Students accused of racial harassing and terrorizing a black student.

The NAACP will be calling for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office to increase the misdemeanor charges against the three adult accused San Jose State Students to felony charges, and to also include the charges of false imprisonment to the charges which the students currently face.

Reverend Jethroe Moore II, President of the SJ/SV NAACP said, " The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin. This is not simple hazing or bullying, this is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African American roommate. The behavior of these three students warrants nothing less than felony charges."

The NAACP will also be calling on San Jose State University Administration to conduct an thorough investigation into University Housing to determine how this situation continued for so long, and why no immediate action to rectify the situation was taken.

About two hundred people showed up to the event. Two NAACP representatives made speeches calling for the University to raise the misdemeanor charges to felony charges. The president of the University, Mohammad Qayoumi, spoke about wanting to make the campus a safe place for all students. While he was speaking students carrying signs picketed behind him demanding a chance to speak.

One of the NAACP representatives made them turn the mic back on an a student from Los Angeles shared that this recent event is part of a long history and they feel President Qayoumi has swept their concerns under the rug (and additionally has been trying to do away with the African-American Studies program).

I hope that the people who attended the rally carry on and agitate for justice for the young man who was terrorized in his own dorm room.

I spoke with several ministers who were there and with a woman from First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church <> who wanted to know if we had African-American board members in SiVIC and said they have a history exhibit going and we should visit. Their website says nothing about that but I have a call in to the pastor asking for more information.

rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
This morning I went to Mayor Chuck Reed's Faith Appreciation Breakfast, an annual event that brings together leaders of the San Jose Faith communities and offers a chance to recognize City/Faith community partnerships.

The Mayor had some opening remarks, commenting on how the City can try to address material needs but the faith communities address spiritual needs. The Notre Dame San Jose Chorus sang "Seasons of Love" from Rent. An Invocation was offered by Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association and Councilmember Sam Liccardo offered a reading from Matthew (about doing for the least of these you do for me).

The three projects that were highlighted were

(1) The Parent Project, a family engagement and empowerment program represented by District Attorney, Jeff Rosen. This is a project that has about a dozen parent groups (in English & Spanish with a Vietnamese language group starting after the first of the year) that work on how to help parent high risk youth. The local contact is <>. More info on the national program can be seen at <>.

(2) Housing 1000, a campaign to house homeless men and women in Santa Clara County by 2013. They would like to partner with congregations to "adopt" a homeless person and provide a support system. They also accept donations at <> and ask for donations of used furniture and kitchen and cleaning supplies to help get the newly sheltered up to speed.

(3) Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force Faith Initiative. They are working to achieve zero gang related homicides in San Jose. Faith communities are providing community space in times of crisis and pastoral counseling to those caught in gang violence. They current have nine Chaplains have been providing "compassion, aftercare, and services to gang impacted families/ individuals and assisting residents in times of crisis and trauma". They are talking about initiating "Night Walks" such as used by Operation Ceasefire in Oakland to get people out on the street at night. <>

There were closing remarks and schmoozing. I think it was very worthwhile to attend. I believe this is the first year a Wiccan has been at the breakfast.


More pix at Flickr which is being totally awful these days.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
Just to keep these somewhere - not necessarily of interest to anyone else. :)

interfaith reports )
rowanf: (pink hair)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I keep telling myself that I really need to write up Lj posts. I feel like I am losing my history (since my memory totally sucks. And it isn't that I haven't been doing interesting things. Bah.
cut to save your flist )
rowanf: (rowan silk wings)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
What a great, whirlwind week it has been. Let's see. Last Wednesday I had lunch with Chris C. Hadn't seen him in ages and it was nice to catch up. Then on to the dentist for teeth cleaning (I don't mind).

Thursday I went to a suicide prevention talk at the SiVIC Religious Leaders Forum. The guest speaker was Elena Tindall, the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Santa Clara County. They put out an annual report on suicides in the County and they offer training in how to talk to people about suicide and about plans to kill themselves. It was interesting that Ms. Tindall was coming out of a Mexican Catholic background and so saw a lot of stigma around suicide that I don't think exists in our community. I may do their online training and SiVIC will probably sponsor more trainings on this issue.

Friday Nette brought over the various props from Beltaine to store in my basement for the year and then we went out to lunch. Then I picked up Russell and we went to Costco and got salmon for Tuesday dinner. I'm glad to have a Costco membership again.

Saturday was the 11th Annual Pagan Festival and Parade in Berkeley. This year's theme was "Paradigm Shift" and the 2012 Keeper of the Light was T. Thorn Coyle. I worked the info booth from 10 to noon and then marched with the Northern Californai Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess and the Gardnerian Wica contingent in the parade. Ouch, they told me it was going to be shorter than that. My body totally rebelled so I spent the next hour or so flaked out on the grass watching the Keeper of the Light passing of the light ritual and a bunch of fine acts lying down. It was a really sunny day but my SPF 70 sunscreen did the trick again. Russell and Liza went off to ride the merry-go-round and hike in Tilden Park and David and I headed off to Dogwood, David's daughter Lexi's bar in Oakland. She makes a lot of her own charcuterie and is going to open a deli soon nearby. I had one of the best Manhattans I've ever drunk and a very nice plate of sausages, cheeses and pickles/olives to tide us over for dinner. So yummy! And David delivered some condiment boxes he had made for the bar. So good errands run all around. Good cooking runs in the family, for dinner David made a lovely eggplant and sausage and spinach stirfry.

Sunday had most of the usual World of Warcraft madness. Falkenrath Knights ran a dungeon. Then David and I played our baby paladins. Then I went to Jae's Ice Crown Citadel run. The only achievement I still needed was heroic Lady Deathwhisper so Roszfianna got Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25 player) and received her Reins of the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher. Jae still has to do one more week because she is a shard short for the legendary, so I'm probably not done with ICC but maybe I'll bring another toon.

Monday I did my orientation with Lee Hecht Harrison, the "career transition" company Ricoh contracted with to help us laid off folks. It seems like they have a lot of resources and I look forward to taking some classes. I have a chat with a coach on Wednesday.
rowanf: (Rowan Beltaine)

Oss & cookies
Originally uploaded by Greg Harder.
I'm still trying to find a routine. I need time to read blogs, to write my Lj, to keep up on LinkedIn and Facebook and with my email. I have some structure as in "I do this on Mondays" but my daytime structure doesn't really exist. I may even have to break down and do "to do" lists. I really, really hate "to do" lists.

It was a great week though. David came down Friday afternoon and we went to Kubota for dinner. My first dinner there since my return and I have to say miso glazed eggplant is still amazing. I showed David around Japantown, both the historic plaques and the wonderful market where we decided that unagi was perhaps too weird and expensive to take as a potluck item to Beltaine. *grin*

Saturday we headed up to Live Oak Park for the annual NROOGD Beltaine, which Owl Moon was bagholding this year. Chris was stage managing it for his red cord project and he had recruited wonderful folks and everything went just wonderfully. Jack in the Green and the Queen of the May chased off the Hag of Winter and we danced the Maypole and called the 'Obby 'Oss. The wheel was turned. It was a really beautiful day and folks hung out in the park afterward for a couple of hours. David and I followed Gwen & Nette home and we hung out there, hot tubbing and sharing food, for a couple of hours. A great schmoozing day.

Sunday we signed David up for WoW and he watched my dungeon run with Falkenrath Knights. My biggest problem is my character slots on Bronzebeard are full. I may have to transfer someone.

Sunday afternoon was the end of the Silicon Valley Reads program with Authors Willow Wilson and Sumbul Ali-Karamali at Santa Clara Public Library. I had the SiVIC Our Religious Neighbor Next Door display set up and we got a fair bit of interest and gave away about 30 flyers for SiVIC. It was nice to hear the authors one last time too.

Monday was a nice quiet day. Kurt had a migraine still, has had for the better part of a week. But we got our worgens through Old World Children's Week in WoW. I have to say that having a mage around to port one to the capitols makes that waaaay quicker. I miss world portals.

Tuesday we had family dinner at Amber India in Mountain View and I had wonderful tandoori rack of lamb. (Of which I am eating the leftovers as I type.) This is curry week evidently. I had bought curry powder at Ancient Ways on the way home from Beltaine and the bag broke in my purse so my iPhone smells of curry powder and I have been craving curry. So last night I made curried cauliflower and also curried turkey. Thus the tandoori lamb and curried cauliflower for breakfast. There are definitely things I love about my life!

Tonight is Pagansing at my house. We will undoubtedly sing May songs and then tomorrow is Rabbit's Oshun party up in Oakaland at Sacred Well. And At Home on Saturday. And I need to find a new gardener, deal with job search stuff and clean house. And do Children's Week on a few more WoW toons. I'm not sure why I keep thinking I'll have free time in here somewhere.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
Today I had the privilege of attending a celebration of the Chinese New Year at the Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale. It is their custom to invite interfaith and civic figures to share in their ceremony for New Years and for Buddha's Birthday. City Councilmember Dave Cortese and his wife attended as did several other civic representatives. Along with Dr. Riley and myself and other members of the SiVIC board, and various representatives from things like the Alzheimer's Association and other local nonprofits.

The Buddha Hall was opened to us (Zen Center members and monks had been chanting for Quan Yin most of the morning) and we offered flowers and listened to a dharma lecture by the Abbot Jian Ying Shifu. The saying for this particular year of the Dragon is "Harmony Brings Out the Splendor in Life" and we received bookmarks of posters of this saying in the calligraphy of the Master of the order in Taiwan. The Dharma lecture talked about where harmony comes from. First you need Wisdom to see what must be done, then Compassion to allow you to work with others which brings Harmony and a just society. I loved the idea that wisdom is solitary and needs compassion in order to be brought into the world. It is not enough to have a great idea, you have to figure out how to engage others. Yes!

Then a huge bell was wheeled into the Buddha Hall which we each rang. This bell rings between all the worlds and relieves suffering, even of the "hellbeings". It was a lovely way to end the ceremony, spreading our participation in the teaching to all who can hear.

May this act, and all acts, be dedicated unto the complete liberation and supreme enlightenment of all beings everywhere pervading space and time, so mote it be!

Happy New Year!
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Last night Islamic Networks Group (ING) in partnership with the Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco Bay Area, Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) hosted an interfaith gathering commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The event was meant to both memorialize the victims and honor those who sacrificed their lives trying to save others on that day.

There was a lovely reception with Middle Eastern snacks. The lobby of the MacAfee center was colourful with all the religious garb and other nicely dressed attendees. There were over 30 religious leaders, a dozen first responder representatives and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, two filmmakers and I would estimate 100-150 attendees and staff.

The program started with the documentary Love Hate Love by Dana Nachman & Don Hardy chronicling three families torn apart by terrorism. The Aldermans lost a son in NYC's World Trade Center, the Hymans lost a sister in the London Underground bombings and the third story was about Ben Tullipan, who was himself caught in the Bali nightclub bombing where he was severely burned and lost both of his legs. In each case the survivors turned to helping others in their search for meaning. The Aldermans have created mental health clinics in war torn areas to help those afflicted with PTSD make new lives. The Hymans support a children's eye clinic in India because their lost sister who discovered as a teenager that she was nearsighted and corrective lenses let her appreciate art. Ben helps new amputees get back on their feet and supports the Bali community with his import store in Australia. It was very nicely done and filled with hope and meaning.

After the film, Supervisor Cortese welcomed people and the 30 faith leaders processed up to sit on stage. (So I have no pictures of the event, first they put us in the very back and then on stage.) Then the first responder representatives were called and they joined us on stage. We had four keynote faith leader speakers Fr. Jon Pedigo from the Catholic Diocese, Shifu Jian Hu from the Sunnyvale Zen Center, Rabbi Dana Magat from Temple Emmanuel and Imam Aladdin El Bakri (that is Al eh Deeeen not Alladin like the Disney movie lol). Between them they hit on absolutely every theme that was appropriate for the day. I am very impressed by our local interfaith community!

We finished on time and folks were so energized that they continued to chat in the lobby (and finish off the snacks). It was a really beautiful ceremony and I'm really sorry that I was (as far as I could tell) the only member of our community present. Oh, and I didn't a actually wind up talking on camera. Just as well really.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)

Manipur drummers
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I'm going out to a 9/11 observance tonight I'm going to be there as a "Faith Leader" and they are asking us to answer the following question: "how do you, as a faith leader, turn a national tragedy like 9/11 into an opportunity to positively transform your community and, furthermore, as a means to encouraging volunteerism and community engagement." I have been looking around the web, curious about what Paganfolk have said about 9/11.

I admit that my feelings are pretty ambivalent. I don't feel any more connection to New York than to say Dublin or Mumbai or Johannesburg in terms of feeling compassion for those who lose loved ones to tragedy. So the "National Tragedy" aspect doesn't resonate.

I was horrified by the reaction many Americans seemed to have toward Islam as a result of the terribly biased reporting and the crazy reactions of the Bush government. So I can totally see how the Muslim community has been forced to make it about more community engagement because it is harder for people to hate the known than the unknown. But do Pagans need to tie community engagement we are doing to 9/11? I'm not really seeing it unless you are local to NYC or other communities that were actually impacted.

Some of the things I've found include Jason's posts including one last year, Remembering and Reclaiming September 11th and What’s the Pagan Response?

Also Peter Dybing shares a 9/11 Ritual for Tolerance

It doesn't really help me answer the question. That happens a lot for Pagans in interfaith. We get posed questions that really don't resonate with our worldviews. Or maybe this is just me.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Last night I went to an Iftar dinner at the home of Samina Sundas, the executive director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation . This is the eighth year she has offered a community Iftar and invited people from the interfaith community and from her neighborhood.

I am acquainted with Samina from the board of SiVIC but this was really special and I learnt more about her background. Before she founded AMV in 2003 she was working with a group whose purpose was to encourage civic engagement amongst Muslims and to support Muslim candidates for political office. In the year 2000 they assisted over 2000 Muslim candidates for office across the country for positions from school board up. Then came 9/11/01 and in the 2002 election cycle there were less than 100 Muslim candidates for office. It didn't matter who you were or what you said... a Muslim became virtually unelectable. So she started AMV to help spread accurate information about Islam and cultivate personal relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims.

This lovely dinner was part of walking her talk. There were 30-35 people, probably less than half were Muslim but Samina made sure were was at least one at each table. We shared a lovely Pakistani dinner after the sun set and shared spirited conversation on a wide variety of topics. (At my table these ranged from how to cook eggplant to the materials science of bonding fibers and cement, to traveling both in the US and aboard and the raising of children.)

One of the people at my table was a woman named Bhavana Kamil who is on the Board of the Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice (ICEJ) in San Jose. She says they have recently lost a couple of Board members and are looking for folks to join them. I gave her my card and said I'd love to hear more.

other interfaith opportunities with the Muslim community in the next while )
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people showed up Sunday, April 11th, to celebrate the Grand Opening of the second phase of building at the San Jose Gurdwara Sahib. Members of the Board of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) were on hand for the dedication to offering their support and blessings.

The series of programs began very early in the morning and really special events are planned by the Sikh community for the next several weeks. There will be special prayers, displays and musical events. Sunday at 10am there was a parade with a float in which they carried the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Scripture) around the bounds of the Temple. Young people showed off their skill at Gatka (martial arts) for an admiring crowd. I spoke to one teacher who said that their Sunday school has 600 students who come to learn Punjabi and Sikhism each week.


After the parade and the offering of langar in the South Hall and outside everyone tried to gather in the Main Hall. As large as it is, there were many, many people who could not be in the standing room only space. Much ceremony (all in Punjabi) went on for quite some time.

Despite the crowd of people the ceremony required sitting and getting up again repeatedly from the floor. Alas, I was not able to stay for the blessings offered by the SiVIC board. My back was killing me from the getting up and down and I was just exhausted (though my lungs are finally clear so the pneumonia is in retreat). I suppose I should have come at 11:30 when the visiting dignitaries were to arrive, but I would have missed the parade and the Gatka and I am kind of glad that I made the choice I did. I ran into Sam as I was leaving and so was at least able to say I had been there. (I never did find Sukhdev, our contact.)

This is a truly beautiful temple with a large and supportive community. It was a pleasure to share the day.
rowanf: (Danse Macabre)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I actually managed to have tea with Carole and work a full day on Thursday. I fell over and was a zombie all evening, but clearly I am getting better. Except the headaches are fairly unrelenting. Bah.

But I have worked some, voted, played WoW and tried to be present in the world. It is a bit of a struggle. I did get Roszrig, my warrior, to level 80 a few days ago. Now I have three 80s. I will probably have 5 before Cataclysm drops next month.

Had an interfaith meeting yesterday. The Silicon Valley Interreligious Council now has a logo and we're decided on an ISP. The inaugural General Assembly has been pushed out a week to March. So much to get done before then!

I really wish I could remember who mentioned Live Mocha . Somewhere there was a conversation about language learning and someone said "I'd like to recommend this place I am working with" or something like that. I wrote it down and signed up for the free version for Spanish. It relies on other learners helping you. So I am reviewing the work of people trying to learn English and others are giving me feedback on my halting Spanish. I am finding it rather engaging and useful. So, thanks to whoever mentioned it!

Today I baked some low carb pumpkin muffins to take up to the Ghede/Brigette devotional at the House. Unfortunately I left out an ingredient which makes them taste even "healthier" than they probably would have otherwise. I keep feeling like I'm better and all but then when I actually try to do things I mess up. Zombie sinus bugs ate my brain. I have about two hours to decide if I think I am competent to drive to the Devotional. I *really* want to go. But I have a raging headache and a botched potluck dish. Part of me just wants to go back to bed.
rowanf: (rowan silk wings)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
As I mentioned to [ profile] rubibees the other day in a comment, I have been thinking about the Dalai Lama's teaching alot. I think what bothers me is how heirarchical the thinking is... make yourself the lowest so you are giving everyone respect rather than feeling superior and offering pity. I want to engage the world looking for equals and team mates. A circle rather than a ladder.

Some of the threads that have been going through my brain include a story I heard visionary activist Caroline Casey tell some decades ago. She read in the NY Times science section about some researchers who had determined that what made the dominant monkey in a colony was the one who had the most available serotonin. When the researchers removed that top monkey it was the one who could ramp up serotonin production fastest who became the next alpha. After a few iterations of this something else happened. A part of the population of monkeys opted out of the dominance hierarchy. Or as Caroline more colourfully out it, some of the monkeys "went Jamaican". They were all "don't worry, be happy" and "we'll just be over here grooming each other" and creating their own subculture. I'm more interested in being a Jamaican monkey.

Of course, I'm female, so I'm more on the "tend and befriend" end of the spectrum rather than the "fight or flight" end. I'm interested in affiliation and nurturing and peer bonding more than determining who is high or low.

I do agree that respect and compassion are a good place to come from when dealing with others. I guess I just don't see the need for that stance to come out of a place of relative dominance. And I'm not saying that I don't struggle or that I am free of judgements! But I try to come from a place of connection and a heart opening posture.

My vision for society is more like the Sacred Connections vision statement than the Eight Verses. "...honoring and empowering the divine within all beings" and supporting "the planetary shift towards a more authentic, joyful, loving way of being".

An interesting note that I didn't mention in my DL entry was that his translator was on the interfaith panel and he talked a bit about the history of the Eight Verses. One of the huge beneficiaries of its popularity was a colony of lepers because of the verse about caring for the afflicted.
rowanf: (Tlingit Owl Woman)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Think I'll try to do a bit of catch-up here. Despite spending much of my time sleeping and generally out of it I have done some cool things lately. And I've missed some cool things.

it got long - lots of interfaith and a bit of napping )
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
Circle of Hands: A Multifaith Celebration of Diversity and Friendship

On Friday, September 10, 2010 between 5:00 - 6:30 pm, people from religious communities from around the Silicon Valley gathered at the Jim McEntee Plaza at the Santa Clara County office building, 70 W. Hedding, San Jose, CA, to demonstrate our support of religious freedom and to celebrate the relationships we have built with one another.

My estimate is about 200 peopled joined us as a variety of faith leaders spoke prayers and exortations to peace and compassion and respect. A priest I spoke to thought it more like 400 people. It was a good turn-out in either case.
cut for length )
rowanf: (Galactic Love)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
On this day in Maharashtra, India, Makara Sankranti is celebrated. It is traditional for people to give sesame sweets to each other in order to increase the love between them and to forget whatever grudges or ill will they may have had.

Alone each seed is very small, yet each seed does provide for good energy. Without anything sweet to bind sesame seeds together they remain scattered. So, today is the day that people are asked to add sweetness - honey, or sweet syrup to the seeds. *Sweetness* bonds seeds together so they become a more powerful force.

The tradition is also to say to each other, 'Teelgool ghyaa aani god god bolaa. Take this sweetened sesame and let us... resolve to speak sweetly.' So have the sweetest day!

(info from my United Religions lists)

Home again

Dec. 15th, 2009 09:37 pm
rowanf: (fox fairy)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So Monday Rachael and I got up and flew to Sydney, had a four hour layover and then flew home. We arrived back in California about an hour before we left... or something like that. *my head explodes* I guess we got back the Tuesday we lost. *grin* I spent the day napping and enjoying being home. I even played a bit of WoW with my library guild. Russell came home from work and we cooked up a nice dinner and caught up. I am so glad to be home to my family and my own, nice, warm waterbed.

This morning I worked on pictures from the Parliament and got them up in my flickrstream. I don't actually have that many, I was too busy taking video that isn't viewable. *facepalm* I should have stuck with my still camera! Having gotten them processed I went back at the CoG Interfaith blog and added pictures to some of my posts. Oooh, cool video up of Don's interview with Patheos is up.

I headed off to Jamba Juice on my way to the pharmacy to pick up some meds. I had the weirdest accident. This idiot pulled out in front of me (she was at a stop sign, I had none) and I stopped suddenly (having suspected she was an idiot). I grabbed for my juice and somehow poked the straw through the bottom of the cup. There was suddenly berry smoothie pouring out of my cup holder. Wah! Luckily I had an empty Dr. Pepper bottle and I managed to hold the hole over it until I got to the store and could finish decanting it. LOL

I am wishing that my shoulder would be better than it is. I keep hoping that I can stop taking meds, but it really hurts if I don't. I have a physical therapy appt tomorrow, we'll see if there has been any progress. I really need a massage actually. *sigh*

Tonight Russell and I went out and saw the new Disney movie, The Princess and The Frog. Oh my, I totally loved it. I liked the heroine, I loved, loved the zydeco fireflies in the Bayou. There was an evil Voodoo man and a wonderful, powerful Voodoo woman. There is music, peril, beauty and true love. *happy sigh* What more can one ask for in a fantasy?
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
This morning I was quite tired after our Colonial Tramcar dinner. Anna & I went together and we ran into Tim Miner and his wife from Washington DC. Tim is the fellow to whose organization I donated the domain. We had a lovely dinner but there wasn't a tour aspect. By the end of three hours I was a bit motion sick. What is the point of a moving dinner, however yummy, if there isn't a tour?!

I skipped doing a devotional and went to a 9:30 session - Understanding Vodun: a West African Spirituality by Robert Houndohome Hounon of Benin. Also known as His Majesty Daagbo Hounion Houna II, Robert Houndohome Hounon is the Supreme Spiritual Leader of the Great Council of the Vodun Hwendo tradition. He was speaking in French with a translator. I understand that the East Coast Pagan community had contributed money to get him to the Parliament.

His basic message seems to be that the diaspora is doing it all wrong and should come back to Africa to get the pure religion from one of the countries of the Gulf of Guinea. He doesn't have a website yet. There was the inevitable "animal sacrifice" question, twice. He said yes, they do animal sacrifice but if the animal screams it gets a reprieve. Someone asked him about Vodun's views on modern issues like abortion, vegetarianism and euthanasia. He said that Vodun condemned abortion because all life is sacred, vegetarianism is an individual choice because one's food taboos are determined by the sign one is born under and he didn't respond about euthanasia.

January 10th is a national Vodun holiday in Benin however and they have gotten some recognition there. There are monuments to the gate of departure (leaving for slavery) and the gate of return (slaves descendants returning). It was never discussed whether non-Africans could practice Vodun but His Magesty seemed to be talking only to the black members of the audience.

At the end of his presentation Angie Buchanan presented him with one of the beautiful shakers made by Julee Higgenbotham. Hmm, have I mentioned those? There are four symbolic ceramic shakers that the Pagans were giving to various groups and elders - the Parliament committee in Chicago, the committee in Melbourne, this guy and hopefully the Dalai Lama. I took pictures of the presentation which are stuck in my camera. *sigh* Here is an article on them from her local paper, St. Louis Today.

This presentation really made me glad that the Orixa have reached out to me with the new religious movement of Umbanda. I feel no need to go back to Africa for some kind of authenticity. I love the syncretic nature of Umbanda and I don't need some Africa "King" telling me what is truth. Heh, I have always had trouble with the religious titles of Lord & Lady, His Magesty is pretty much right out for me. And his anti-abortion stance also put me off considerably as you might imagine.
rowanf: (Interfaith Today)
Joanne Shenandoah wasn't playing this afternoon, so I found time to go by the exhibits. Only Earthspirit has a booth this year amongst the Pagan groups. I ran into Don & Anna and we sat and had coffee/tea together. The tea here is really insipid. *sigh*

My last presentation of the day was Personal and Professional Journeys of Women Leaders: a Worldwide Dialogue by Dr. Linda Lyman of Illinois State University. She highlighted the stories of women in education who participated in the 2007 Rome conference: 'Sharing the Spirit, Fanning the Flame: Women Leading Education Across the Continents'. Then we broke into groups of 5-6 and talked about how the themes - scholarhip, activism, introspection and mentoring within our educational, career and spiritual lives - related to our own experience.

My group was particular rewarding because of the presence of Jan Chaffee who, with her husband Paul, runs the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. Hearing Jan's stories and getting to know her better was a wonderful opportunity. I have always admired her warmth and competence. Also in our group was a young woman from Saudi Arabia who has faced challenges in getting an education. She had only gotten a batchelor's degree when a university opened in Bahrain because in Saudi Arabia there were only teacher colleges or nursing schools for women and she wasn't drawn to those professions. At this point she has a bs in information science, a masters in human resources and a masters in public administration and she is going to start a doctorate soon. Another woman in our group had faced both racial and gender discrimination and lived through both the civil rights and women's movement. She has also survived a rare and virulent form of breast cancer. So many stories!

Dr. Lyman offered a number of quotes in her presentation, I especially liked this one (except for the word pilgrimage which is a bit of a trigger for me). "To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consumation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task." (David White, 2001, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, NY: Riverhead Books)

I need to get dressed now as Anna and I are doing the Colonial Tram Car dinner which was one of the "extras" one could sign up for at the Parliament. So we'll be missing the youth plenary, which is a shame as I understand that Isobel Arthen has a solo. But I am looking forward to the dinner!

May 2015



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