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Dear friends of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County,
Happy 2019 to you!
All of our IRCLC Board meetings begin with an inspiration. Inspiration in my tradition comes from the Holy Spirit, and the purpose of inspiration is to move a person to act or feel differently than he or she did before. A person can be inspired by many things, but I would
like to tell you about a few of the people who inspired me at the Parliament of the World Religions, which I attended this past November in Toronto.
There was Khamet Karatepe, who is a young Muslim man from the Netherlands. Khamet volunteers at his local mosque and describes himself as a philosophical Sufi. Though Khamet is confined to a motorized wheelchair, that didn’t keep him from traveling more
than 3,700 miles to serve as a volunteer at the Parliament.
Let me tell you about Jaideep Singh, a Sikh scholar who spoke on the topic of white supremacy in the United States. If I didn’t believe that white supremacists were a problem that we need to grapple with, I do now.
Francois Poulette sounds like the name of a French chef, but he is a chief in the First Nations—what we call Native Americans—in Canada. He spoke on ecocide or the mass destruction of Mother Earth. He believes you must have a spiritual identity with nature in
order to protect it.
I listened to Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, an adjunct professor of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, who organized an exciting panel on “Using Science to Bridge Religious Traditions.”
There was Cemit Yigit, who is a Turkish Muslim and a member of the Hizmet Movement. Because of Prime Minister Tyyip Erdogan’s persecution of the Hizmet Movement in Turkey, Yigit is a refugee in Canada. He told me he now understands the Turkish crimes against the
Armenians, because he has suffered the same fate.
Zhihe Wang is a Buddhist Scholar from the Republic of China, and from him I learned about John Cobb, an American theologian who has taught the Chinese people to change their views of the earth, so that China is now leading the Green Revolution in the world.
I listened to six Vedantic swamis, each one outpreaching the other on the topic of harmony and justice. They could hold their own with Billy Graham any day.
I was privileged to meet Arun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, who told what it was like to have Gandhi as a grandfather. He learned from his grandfather that a small pencil—the size of a golf pencil—had value and was not to be thrown away until it was all used up.
Finally there was Jason Fung, who teaches breakdancing in Toronto. How did he end up at the Parliament? He meditates at his dojo, the Fighting Arts Collective, where he learned of the Parliament of the World Religions, and offered to be a volunteer.
There were many others who inspired me, and I hope that I will be able to pass my inspiration on to you as a President of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County.
Peace for 2019,
Charles R. Crawley
President, Inter-Religious Council of Linn County