Wisdom January 2014 Issue
1. Elijah marks UN World Interfaith Harmony Week
In honour of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Elijah Interfaith Institute will host a panel discussion examining the significance of the Pope’s forthcoming visit to the Holy Land. Please join us on Sunday, February 2nd, at the YMCA, Jerusalem. Participating in the panel are Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Bishop William Shomali, Kadi Iyad Zahalka, and Rabbi David Rosen. Welcome & moderation: Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein and Ms. Peta Pellach.
(click on the image to see the flyer in large size)
2. Religious Genius – Seeking your Input
As readers of Wisdom know Elijah is proud to be involved in a research project on saints in world religions, studied under the rubric of “Religious Genius”. The project is supported by the John Templeton Foundation. As we gear up to a new year of activity, we would greatly value your input. We would like to have indications of what “saints” and “religious geniuses” might mean to you. To that end, this newsletter features an appeal for your responses to 10 short questions. We would like to have you as partners for this evolving project. Please be kind enough to share your views by clicking on this survey.
3. Understanding Religious Genius
At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Baltimore, November 2013) we were honored to have a session dedicated to an exploration of the category of “religious genius”. A video of the session is featured on our Youtube Channel. It allows you to have a synthetic view of a project that is now two years underway. The session met with enthusiastic response, as a panel of 9 scholars shared their work on the study of saints as “Religious Genius”. We hope you share this response.
For those who prefer the written word to the oral and visual word, you may view the project’s concept paper, presenting the concept and the results of group research.
4. Summer School – Registrations now open
Registrations for the Elijah Interreligious Summer School, both the pilgrimage and the seminar, are now open. Numbers are limited, so advance booking is recommended.
5. Sharing Wisdom
One of the preliminary findings of the Religious Genius project has been the discovery of common dealt with by ‘geniuses’ across religious traditions. The examples below illustrate this.
-> Nammalvar, a (Hindu) poet saint who lived around the 9th-10th century CE and who composed four poems in Tamil, is a well-known figure who comes close to our evolving model of “Religious Genius.”
What can I say of the Lord
who lifted me up for all time,
and made me Himself, every day?
My radiant one, the first one,
my Lord, speaks of Himself,
through me, in sweet Tamil.
What can I say of Him
who unites with my sweet life today?
He makes my words, the sweet words I say,
seem as if they were mine,
[but] the wondrous One praises Himself
through His own words.
The Primary one of the three [divine] forms
says my words ahead of me.
Entering my tongue first,
He made clear to me that,
yes, He was the primeval One.
Would I ever forget
the Father who, through my mouth
spoke about Himself
to the foremost, pure devotees
in fine sweet verse?
Tiruvaymoli 7.9.1 to 3
-> Gregory of Nazianzus, known as St. Gregory the Theologian, is one of the greatest of the 4th century Greek Christian Fathers, and was one of the core architects of classical Christian thought on God, the World, and Humanity’s aspiration to the Transcendent.
You stand above all things that exist.
What other way could we rightly begin to sing of You?
How can words chant your praise
When no word can ever speak of You?
How can the mind consider you
When no thought can ever grasp You?
You alone are unutterable
From the time you created all things that can be spoken of.
You alone are unknowable
From the time you created all things that can be known.
All things cry out about You
those which speak, and those which cannot think;
For there is one longing, one yearning,
That all things have for You (Rom. 8. 22-23).
All things pray to You, that comprehend Your plan,
And offer You a silent hymn.
In You, the One, all things abide
And to You all things endlessly converge
Who are the end and goal of all.
You are One, and All, and None of these.
You who bear all names,
How shall I ever name You?
You who can never be named?
What heavenly mind can ever penetrate
those veils above the clouds?
Be merciful, You who stand above all things.
What other way can we rightly sing of You?
The Elijah Interfaith Institute relies on the support of friends in order to conduct its ongoing activities:The Elijah Interfaith Institute
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