Apr 15, 2014

When One of Us is Hurt We All Feel Pain

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily

As Passover ends for my Jewish friends, I join them to mourn the attack on the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Yes I am a Muslim, and the world doesn’t expect me to sympathize with Jews. But the world is wrong. We have increasingly become divided along religious lines, and Jewish-Muslim relationships have become strained because they have incorrectly become synonymous with the Israel-Palestine issue. This is neither true Islam nor true Judaism.

Apr 10, 2014

A Celebration

By Rev. Nell Green
Source: ABPnews

She is young, energetic and smart. She wants to study genetics. Her English is broken, but she is absolutely determined to make it perfect. She realizes that coming to the US was a chance in a lifetime. He is a gifted and talented musician. He writes music, plays multiple instruments, and sings beautifully. He is never without a smile. His heart’s desire was to experience at least once an Easter Sunday in a church with a choir and orchestra.

Mar 25, 2014

Five Challenges of Diversity

By Rev. Nell Green
Source: ABPnews
How strange it has seemed to us to live in Houston. The Houston we left 28 years ago and the Houston we call home today are two entirely different places, though they share the same geographic location. It was about this time 37 years ago that Butch and I made a drive from College Station, TX to The Galleria Mall in Houston to purchase an engagement ring. Everyone in the mall looked, talked, and acted just about the same. Now when I go to The Galleria no one looks, talks, or acts the same. Mono-culturalism has given over to diversity.

Mar 21, 2014

A Powerful Expression of Love for the Supreme

By Manu Shah
Source: IndoAmerican News
The tinkling of ghungroos, the haunting notes of Krishna’s flute and the evocative dances by the gopis captivated an almost packed auditorium on 15 March in Pearland.  Presented by GOD – Global Organization for Divinity to celebrate their Namadwaar Prayer House’s fourth anniversary, the dance ballet titled Radhe…Radhe… depicted Radha Rani’s divine love for her Krishna through the medium of the Bharatnatyam form of dance. 

Mar 14, 2014

Lent is More Than Just Fasting

By Jonathan Powers
Lent is here again, and Catholics like myself are looking forward to a season of spiritual reflection and prayer. For many, Lent is a time for repentance, for others an opportunity for helping others through charity. At the same time, it has become a question for those who don't believe fasting is the way to earn God's love. Is fasting all there is to Lent? How does one strike a balance between extremes?

Mar 10, 2014

A Visit to a Hindu Temple

By Felicia Woodard
A part of my graduate curriculum is to learn about people and their culture. Culture is such a broad term, but for the sake of space I will not delve into that at this moment.  I will simply assume we can agree that culture may be any shared behavior, ethnicity, religion, tradition, values, and even things we may forget are cultural like the way we respond to things or the tone in our voice. My professor allowed the class an opportunity to visit a place that was different from our own culture. She gave us no restrictions, no leads. She said go; just go and learn. I chose a Hindu Temple.

Mar 5, 2014

Why Everyone Should Care about NYPD Surveillance of Muslims

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily
Last week the U.S. district Court dismissed a long-standing case against the NYPD for their secret surveillance of Muslims in New York and New Jersey in the years after 9/11. Yet few Americans outside of the American Muslim community spoke out against the judgment, and not all newspapers carried the news. For the average American of a different faith, this wasn’t really too newsworthy. Here’s why they are wrong.

Feb 25, 2014

Celebrating Black (Muslim) History

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily
A brand new year, another February drawing to a close. We all know this month is Black History Month, and the overall impression I’ve got from people who are not black is that nobody truly cares about black history except for African Americans. Granted, PBS airs some specials, and our kids learn about important African American figures in school, mostly the high-profile ones such as Dr. King, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and a few other prominent black activists. for the average American, that’s the extent of our understanding of or participation in Black History Month. Other than that, we defer to the African American community and allow them to claim this “celebration” as their own.

Feb 24, 2014

A Carnival with a Jewish Flavor for Everybody

Jews have their own Halloween? Who  Knew? Purim is the Jewish celebration which some compare to Halloween. Well, the comparison is not quite correct: Indeed, people – children as well as adults – put on costumes, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Feb 21, 2014

Misconceptions of Science and Religion

Source: HealthCanal
The public’s view that science and religion can’t work in collaboration is a misconception that stunts progress, according to a new survey of more than 10,000 Americans, scientists and evangelical Protestants. A study by Rice University also found that scientists and the general public are surprisingly similar in their religious practices.

Feb 17, 2014

Culture Is Not The Problem

By Daniel Johnson
As I listened to Propaganda’s spoken word piece entitled Justice and the Gospel, he briefly addressed our issue as Christians with reconciling our views of culture. He says that we view culture as an invisible monster shaped by forces outside of our control, that we view culture as part of this imaginary us vs. them view. Is that a correct assessment?

Feb 14, 2014

How are Women's Roles in Faith Changing?

Women have played key roles in faith-based communities as long as they have existed. In recent years, that leadership has been formalized. More congregations today are led by women. Here in Houston, women are Reverends and Rabbis, hold leadership roles in interfaith organizations. And yet, some sects of some religions still hold to long-standing, traditional gender roles.

We explore the changing roles of women in faith-based communities here in Houston. We consider which religious groups or sects bend the gender divide, how women of faith seek to provide a positive influence within their respective congregations, and how changes in the religious landscape in Houston have helped empower more women to take on more active roles in their community.

Feb 10, 2014

Book Review: Between Allah and Jesus

By Kristen Adams
It’s not often that you come across a small title on a dusty bookshelf in the back corner of a library that really speaks to you. Yet those infrequent times that this does happen are really golden moments in one’s education. I recently had the opportunity to find a book about interfaith dialogue called “Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians can Learn from Muslims.” Written by Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter J. Kreeft, the book is small, light in the hand, and despite the title that may startle some, full of wisdom.

Feb 5, 2014

How Religious Organizations Balance Community Service & Proselytizing

Source: Houston Matters

Houston Matters discusses how religious organizations throughout Greater Houston often find themselves engaged on two fronts: supporting their own congregants with services and events based on their particular religious beliefs, and providing services to the community at large, based on the moral convictions of the congregation, regardless of whether those served hold similar religious views.

Along the way, those two fronts – which are often not mutually exclusive – can become intermingled. It creates a challenge for churches, synagogues and mosques – they want to represent and grow their congregations. They also want to provide needed services of all kinds for all Houstonians. How much can they accomplish? How much of work like food, clothing, medical care, and job training should religious organizations be expected to engage in? Does the city of Houston or state of Texas assume too much from them? Do some of those religious organizations, in turn, feel compelled to use the opportunity to proselytize while providing these services? (Different religions – and even sects of the same religion – look on proselytization very differently).

Feb 1, 2014

Peace Through the Hijab

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Tikkun Daily
Stereotypes are hurtful, no doubt about it. They assume things about an entire group of people by those who have less than an iota of knowledge about the group. It shrinks each individual in the group to the lowest common denominator, or even to something unrelated entirely to the group. And it’s doubly sad when stereotypes are perpetuated not just externally but internally as well. Today, perhaps no other group faces more stereotypes than the Muslim woman. The adjectives – I call them labels – used to define her range from the inaccurate to the offensive and even sometimes laughable. Submissive. Oppressed. Quiet. Homemaker. Religious. Devout. Covered.

Jan 27, 2014

An Explanation of Forgiveness

By Dr. Sulekh C. Jain
Every religion discusses the concept of forgiveness in some shape or form. The question arises, then, what is forgiveness? I believe that it is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense and lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

Jan 23, 2014

Muslim Women's Dress: The New Sensationalism

By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Religion Dispatches

Muslim + women + dress. Just type the three words into Google Images and you’ll get a mosaic of scary images – women covered in black from head to toe, and screaming headlines of violence and hate. Despite the fact that a significant number of Muslim women around the world don’t cover themselves in that particular way, or don’t cover at all, we have become attuned by our media to consider those restrictive images as representative of more than a billion people. So when we put Muslim + women + dress together, we refuse to see anything other than what we want to see.  

Jan 16, 2014

Religious Freedom, Anyone?

By Saadia Faruqi

Today is religious freedom day in the United States, a day celebrating the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom by President Thomas Jefferson in 1786. This piece of legislation effectively accomplished two things: it prohibited taxing people to pay for the local clergy, and it protected the rights of the public to express their religious beliefs without suffering discrimination. While two centuries ago most Americans were of the same faith, mostly Christian, in today’s America this concept of freedom of religious speech on an individual level becomes even more important.

Jan 13, 2014

Eat, Pray, Love... and Wonder

By Felicia Woodard

Eat. Pray. Love. The 2010 movie starring Julia Roberts adapted from the best-selling book by author Elizabeth Gilbert became a high grossing movie based on the author’s life. She went on a quest to what many would call “find herself.” Or “find God". She went to Italy, Indonesia, & India and each place took her on a different journey.  To not spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t go into it. But I will say that the movie’s response raises questions for me.

Jan 8, 2014

A Concert Celebrating Devotional Music From Houston’s Diverse Faith Communities

Houston is a remarkably diverse city — and in no domain of city life is that diversity more apparent than in its faith communities. Many communities in the city have created a sense of home for themselves through membership in churches, mosques, temples and the like. It is not surprising, then, that most of these communities have fostered rich sacred music traditions.