Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hidden Treasures: The Voices of Women in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Downtown Chicago at Night

Lake Michigan at the Point!

Another beautiful scene at Lake Michigan in Chicago, IL

On Monday, November 5 at 8AM I had a tooth extracted. By 9:30AM I was sitting at the Catholic Theological Union listening to a panel discussion on recoverng the voices of women and addressing challenging and problematic texts. In a truly interfaith worship service they began with a Jewish prayer at 8:30AM. At noon we had a Christian prayer and at 5PM a Muslim prayer.

Jewish Prayer

Parts of the Jewish prayer were conducted from the book, Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays: A Gender Sensitive Prayerbook by Chaim Stern, editor. Rabbi Ellen Weinberg dreyfus read from the Torah and the prayer service included a cantor.

Midday Christian Prayer
For this prayer we recited the following:
Leader: O God, come to our assistance.
All: Lord, make haste to help me.
Leader: Glory, honor and worship to God, to Christ and to the Holy Spirit:
All: AS it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

We sang Lord of All Hopefulness and Psalm 95. We then recited prayer and someone read scripture form Isaiah 55:8-11. We had a brief silence, followed by prayers of intercession, the Lord's Prayer and a concluding prayer and blessing.

Muslim Prayer
I did not attend the 5PM Muslim prayer because I did not have anything appropriate to cover my head and I was not wearing a ankle length dress. Muslim planners included the following handout for non-Muslims:

The prayer in Islam consists of a unit that is repeated twice, three times or four times depending on the time of the day.

The unit starts in the standing position. The first chapter of the Quran "The Opening" is recited:

In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving.
All praise is for God alone, Lord of all the worlds.,
The All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving,
Master of the Day of Judgment.
IT is You alone we worship and it is You alone we ask for help.
Guide us along the straight path
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed grace,
Not those upon whom there is wrath,
Nor those who have gone astray.

The next step is bowing, during which God the Almighty is exalted.
The third step is prostration, during which God the Most High is exalted.
The last step is sitting, during which supplications and greetings for Prophet Muhammad, Prophet Abraham and their families are given.

The Principles of Dialogue are worthy of use in other interfaith gatherings and so I include them here for your reference:

1. We should recognize that no single group or viewpoint has a complete monopoly on the truth.
2. We should not envision ourselves or any group as the saving remnant.
3. We should test all proposals for their pastoral realism and potential impact on individuals as well as for their theological truth.
4. We should presume that those with whom we diff ere are acting in good faith.
5. We should put the best possible construction on differing positions.
6. We should be cautious in ascribing motives.
7. We should engage the realities of contemporary culture, acknowledging the culture's valid achievements and real dangers.

Amen and Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman

Collegium: An Association for Liberal Religious Studies

Craigville Conference Center in Cape Code near Providence, Rhode Island where I attended the Collegium Conference.

Another beautiful nature scene from the Craigville Conference Center

Heavenly sunset!

One of many beautiful sunsets! The next day a hurricane hit nearby bringing gale rains and high winds.

Collegium held its Annual Fall Conference November 1-4, 2007 at the Craigville Conference Center on Cape Cod. Collegium is an Association for liberal religious studies whose mission is to "bring together the best academic, ministerial, lay, andother resources to bear upon the intellectual life of Unitarian Univeralism through encouraging, sharing, and distributing scholarly and other creative work." Each conference features a distinguished guest. This years distinguished guest was Father Daniel Berrigan, one of the country's leading peace activists of the past half-century. Father Berrigan is a Jesuit priest, poet, pacifist, educator,social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he calls "American military imperialism." He recently celebrated his 85th birthday.

Thanks to a scholarship from Collegium, I had the opportunity to hang out with some high powered researchers and scholars. The format included research and research in progress in several categories that included: history, theology,ethics,and social justice. I presented my dissertation research on Clergy Sexual Misconduct under the ethics category. I posted another paper on Diversity and Religious Education but decided not to present it.

While there were a number of excellent presentations, my favorite was by far, Jane Rosecrans on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Harper is one of my favorite sheroes! I was delighted to meet Jane and hear about the things she is doing.

Rev. Kim Beach, a minister that I knew previously from Lynchburg, VA where he served as Interim, shared his insights and experiences from a recent trip to Israel and Palestine.

Rev. Victor Carpenter was also present and presented a response to Bill Schulz's Berry Street Essay titled, What Torture Taught Me. Victor spent a number of years at the Cape Town, South Africa congregation as minister. Another important connection we have is his interest in the Black Empowerment Era. He has conducted and written the most extensive history on the Era in the UU Movement/denomination.

It was a delight to meet Myriam Reynaud. We both were trying to recall where we had met and realized it was at Wednesday evening Vespers at First Unitarian Congregation in Chicago, IL. She attends the University of Chicago and I attend Meadville Lombard Theological School. As Unitarians, we both attend Vespers. Because of my class schedule I am seldom able to attend, hence my poor memory. (What is your excuse Myriam?)I also ran into another "classmate," Rudra Dundzila that presented on Domas Sidlauskas-Visuomis. He and I both took a course, Hebrew Bible, on line together. While I was not able to attend his presentation I know that his scholarship is stellar.

I roomed with Betty Hoskins, a long time UU Women's Federation member and past Feminist Theology Chair. We talked about my research and the possibility of my doing a General Assembly presentation as well as potentially publishing and presenting my recommendations and findings on clergy sexual misconduct through the UU Women's Federation.

In regards to other research I am conducting, once this semester has concluded I will focus on writing up the conclusion for my research on African American Unitarian and Universalist and Unitarian Universalist women that was funded by the UU Women's Federation.

I would like to thank Rev. David Johnson and his gracious wife, Julie Coulter, for their warm hospitality. Yours truly scheduled a return flight for 6AM to Chicago with a two hour layover in Atlanta. As a result I was forced to leave the conference early on Saturday instead of Sunday. However, I was able to ride to Providence, RI with Rev. Paul Sawyer and Father Berrigan. What an earful hearing about their adventures over the years. We had a close encounter with Paul almost missing his train. He ended up handing his keys to his rental car that he was unable to return because they were closed and there was no drop box. Julie Coulter and I spent the next hour trying to return the car. I ended up keeping it overnight and driving it to the airport the next morning, thus getting me to the airport and getting the vehicle back where it belonged! What a win-win situation!

Collegium 2008
I had not expected to attend the 2008 session even though I suggested that they invite Mark Morrison Reed as their "Distinguished Guest." They followed up on the suggestion and he accepted! I have to figure out how to get myself there next year!

Blessings! Qiyamah A. Rahman

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Across the Waters

Rev. LaDonna Sanders speaking to sisters in Chicago, IL about her vision for Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and her dream to link it to the Mothers, Sisters, and Daughters in South Africa component.

Rev. Franshon Salter, one of the participants that came to contribute her support to Mothers, Sisters Daughters, Across the Waters

A group picture marking the conclusion of the first meeting of Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Across the Waters - L-R Rev. Franshon, Rev. LaDonna, Rev. Dr. Qiyamah and Mama Dawn holding Justice (4 months).

Kitchen Table Talk! Breaking bread together after talking, praying, and scripture reading. L-R Rev. Franshon, Rev. LaDonna, Mama Dawn and Justice.