June 22, 2016

Leland’s Letters

Leland Stewart

Leland Stewart

WHAT IS INTERFAITH?

 

         Those virtues that befit dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion, and loving kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.

          Baha’i faith, Science and Spirituality, page 170

 

There are many levels of interfaith.  The beginning of the process is the coming together of people and/or leaders of various faiths to share their views of faith and how they can get along with each other even though their different religions and spiritual movements have different understandings of life.  Few, if any, of these people change their faith as

the result of their dialog.

Other dimensions of interfaith are when a person changes his/her faith and stays with the new faith.  Still others join a new faith for a time and then return to the original faith,

probably enriched by the experience.  An additional outcome of the interfaith experience

is that a person follows two or more religions.  The most changed perspective is with

those who let go of their original faith and take on an exploration of all religions and spiritual movements.

 

Some people have no regard for religion in any of its forms.  Certainly there are many

examples of religions who hate each other and as a result engage in violent behavior.  The role of interfaith in this regard is to help such people to find out what religion is supposed to be in promoting mutual respect and understanding.

Interfaith is growing rapidly as people realize the need for the religions to get along with each other.  Two examples of the rapid growth of interfaith are the Parliament of the World’s Religions.  Last October the Parliament held its meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, with almost ten thousand people in attendance.  The United Religions Initiative since the year 2000 has started more than 500 cooperation circles in a large number of countries.  There are about twenty interfaith organizations just in the Los Angeles area alone.

It is true that in the various faiths, certain people take on the interfaith work, and others continue just paying attention to their own faith.  One of the tasks of interfaith now is to help those other individuals to realize the importance of interfaith and begin to get involved.

Is interfaith a religion?  For most people it is not.  However, for some of the people who are most involved it serves as a faith with all of its inspiration and power.  Those who have transcended their original faiths do need that kind of spiritual awakening and call to service.  What it should be called, and what forms it will take are yet to be decided.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

                                         ——————————

                                   SERVING THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone's soul to heal. Walk

out of your house like a shepherd.

Jelaluddin Rumi, Science and Spirituality, page 183

This is Memorial Day Weekend. It is a time our country honors its veterans of military

service. It is appropriate that people who have served the United States in this way

be honored.

The problem is that we are now in a state of perpetual war. One warlike action leads to

another, and at this point it appears that the process is never ending. At some time soon

we must take a different direction in order to save lives and to discover that there is a

better way to live.

I have always felt that I had a mission in life that I must devote myself to fulfilling. It was

and is a mission of nonviolence, of service at a moral and spiritual level. I could not risk

going into the military service and possibly being killed in the process, because then I

could not fulfill my sacred mission.

My reasons for not going into the military service were as follows: I was 4F, which

means that I was not physically fit, although at first the recruiters were going to pass me

through the tests without reservation; I was 4D, which was because I was studying for

the ministry at the time; and I was 1AO, which is a conscientious objector.

Conscientious objectors oppose war and their participation in it. For me, I had another

way of serving my country and the world. Because I did not yield to going into the

military service, I was able to continue with my mission from then until this day. My

mission is moving forward in increasingly important ways, but it is far from being

completed. I trust that it will continue to motivate my life until my dying way, which I

hope will be numerous years into the future. I am blessed to be able to be fulfilling my

mission, and it is most of all because of the heightened energy that commitment gives

me that provides energy and longevity to my life.

I would like at this time to call on others who have a similar commitment in their lives to

begin working together and to devote themselves to ending war and violence at home

and around the world. This is a huge task, but the more people who have this mission,

the sooner war will end and the future made more secure.

President Obama has just been in Japan and has pledged to working for the elimination

of nuclear weapons. At the same time, the United States is in the process of updating its

nuclear weapons at the cost of billions of dollars. Would we not be better off to work

with the nations of the world to mutually agree to eliminate these weapons altogether?

May peace prevail on earth!