[editor’s note: this is an older letter by Rev. Leland Steward from Nov., 2015. Sorry, I was not able to update the site for a while]
“A great stillness steals over me and a great calm quiets my whole being when I realize Your Presence.” –Science of Mind, quoted in Science and Spirituality, page 185
We are presently in a major time of turbulence worldwide. What was thought to be largely a Middle East turbulence is now clearly one of a global nature. The attacks in Paris about a week ago make that clear, as do the more recent attacks in Mali. Who knows where the next attack might be? It appears that nobody is safe any longer.
The question is, how do we navigate this turbulence? Are we to give up in despair, as many have done, or are we to carry on in the faith that we have a part to play in helping bring the world back to a greater sense of normalcy?
It is having a faith that most of all helps to give us the strength to carry on and to serve the larger good. For increasing numbers of people, the growing strength of the interfaith movement is also a source of encouragement. The interfaith movement can be seen in several ways, but two of those ways particularly stand out. If your relation to the movement is one of engaging in dialog, then your faith comes from another source, namely Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or one of the other existing religions. In that case, you bring your faith to the dialog and help raise the level of consciousness.
If, on the other hand, if you are not part of the existing religions, or have gone beyond the boundaries of your previous faith, then you need to find another faith in order to be at that same level in the dialog. If your faith is based on a connection with various religions, past and present, then interfaith for you is more than dialog, it is a source of your faith. From this reality another kind of faith is being born. Part of the turbulence we are now facing is coming from this changing face of religion. One of the leaders in the interfaith movement, Canon Gwynne Guibord, calls it “Religion Inside Out”. It is certainly creating a new reality in our time.
The turbulence now largely centers around violence and war. The natural tendency when attacked is to attack the party that attacked you. However, there is another way of responding to an attack, which is to respond nonviolently and seek to resolve the conflict through diplomacy or nonviolent techniques that force a change to take place. My conviction is that nonviolence is soon going to be used worldwide to help resolve the many violent attacks now taking place. Nonviolence is an ethical choice, and it is “a force more powerful”. It is time that we learned about how to use nonviolence for bringing about peace in the world. The way of violence and war is too risky in an age of nuclear and chemical weapons; we do need an alternative.
May peace prevail on earth!