The environmental and interfaith movements are both large and very much growing. They do need to listen to each other and to be connecting with each other. The question is how to bring this condition about without either being diluted and therefore less effective. My impression so far is that both movements are less effective in their efforts to connect with each other than they could be. This tendency needs to be overcome if the interrelationship is to be truly productive..
~by Mary Mann
There is One Source for all living things on Planet Earth, called by any name or no name.
The Source of all the religions is the same Source. All paths have at least some validity and are deserving of the respect of travelers on all the other paths.
There is one responsibility that applies to all living things, particularly all the human travelers on all the paths, and that is the preservation of reverence for life.
In believing this, we recognize that we are all members of one human family living on the one and only Planet Earth.
`by Rev. Leland Stewart
At the heart of the emerging global civilization lies the gospel of the interdependent unity of all things. All forms of life are interrelated with all other forms; none can exist without the others. It is time, therefore, to proclaim this interdependence and to draw together those who feel ready to live by its dictates. We are in the beginning days of the new dispensation whose transforming power has not yet been felt in a major way. In drawing together these beings more and more throughout the world, the good news of the age now coming into existence will be ever more widely heard and its fruits realized.
A Unity-and-Diversity Gospel, World Scripture V. 2, page 181
Today is New Year’s Sunday, which lies in the middle of the week in which we are invited to reflect on our life and to make resolutions as to how we will move toward a more meaningful and spiritually awakened life in the coming year. It is time also to improve on our commitment to the ethical principles taught by the world’s religions and by the learnings which have taken place since the ages led by these religions. One of these teachings has been proclaimed by the DVD “Beyond Right and Wrong” that has been shown recently.
This month was opened with the question: “What Is the Good News?” What is meant by that question is that every civilization has been guided by a new vision, usually brought forth by a religious leader. In Asia its visionaries were initially Lao Tze and Confucius, and later on by the Buddha. In the Middle East it was made manifest initially by Moses, then by Jesus of Nazareth, and later on by Mohammed. From these religious visionaries, the religions moved to other countries of the world.
Our present world is in need of a new vision, and conditions are getting worse for the lack of such a clear vision. Democracy is different in how it gives birth to the needed vision; it can no longer be just one person but rather the coming together of a community that manifests the vision, and eventually the awakening of the world to the power of that vision. It may well be that a single individual will first give voice to that vision, but its effectiveness in transforming the world will require a mass movement that extends around the globe. Many such efforts are underway, but they have yet to fully come together and to cooperate toward that end.
The Unity-and-Diversity World Council has focused on holding some form of interfaith gathering at this time of the year for more than half a century, beginning in 1958 at the Los Angeles City Hall. This year, and for the past three years, it has been called the Interfaith Celebration of Light. It was held on Saturday evening, December 13th, at the IMAN Cultural Center.
Now that it has been held, it is our turn to use this period from December 25th to January first to focus on our need for awakening and for making resolutions to establish our need for ethical and spiritual transformation. What is the good news for you? What is it that in your life needs changing in order for your highest and best to be released? By the 31st of December it would be great for you to write down these resolutions and then commit to their actualization in the New Year.
Spirit is One; paths are many!!!
The annual Peace Sunday, this year being called “Peace Sunday Festival”, is scheduled for September 21st, just four weeks from today. It will be held at the IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave., Los Angeles 90034. This year’s theme will be “Every human being has a right to peace”. Please note that the United Nations International Day of Peace is on Sunday this year, and it is the same day as our Peace Sunday Festival. The website is www.peacesunday.org For information call 424-228-2087, 310-396-8205, or 310-200-3598. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace Sunday Festival 2014 is convened by the Unity-and-Diversity World Council, and there are twenty sponsoring organizations. Sponsors are responsible to help plan the event, and this year’s Steering Committee is a most outstanding one. We also have co-sponsors, who help publicize the event. So far there are about twenty-five co-sponsors, and that number will considerably increase between now and the event.
Now is a most unstable and violent time in the world, which gives every reason for having a Peace Sunday Festival. This year’s event will not only present an outstanding program, but several new features will be part of it. First of all, we will have several different youth activities: a schools project focused on “What is Peace?”, which includes essays, poetry, and artwork, led by Diane Burton and Ron Klemp. There will be 20’x20’ booth with youth activities, led by Barbara Tebyani. Gayle Gale will have a booth to develop her “Kids for Peace”. Diane Tillman of the Brahma Kumaris will have a session during the afternoon program for youth focused on “Living Values”.
The trailer of “Beyond Right and Wrong” will be shown, which is a popular film helping to reconcile victims and perpetrators from acts of violence. Conflicts in various parts of the world could learn much about how to reconcile their difficulties from the teachings in this film.
Peace Sunday will likewise focus on action following up on this event. Three areas of action are being included: (1) Preparing for the 2015 Peace Sunday Festival celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and the 50th anniversary of Unity-and-Diversity World Council. (2) Beginning a second year of the Culture of Peace Series. (3) Forming an ongoing body of organizations and individuals similar to the Security Council of the United Nations, which will take action on specific areas of need as are within our possibility of making a positive difference in our communities and/or the world.
There will be tables and booths in the IMAN Center parking lot throughout the day by various participating organizations. An interfaith service will be held from 10 a.m. till noon, ending with participation in a worldwide one-minute meditation. After lunch the program will be held from 2-5 p.m. It will feature spiritually and politically involved Marianne Williamson as a keynote speaker, songs from the International Peace Choir, musician Yuval Ron and fellow musicians, singer/songwriter Stephen L. Fiske, and the World Peace Prayer and Flag Ceremony. A second keynote speaker and a surprise element are being planned.
On Saturday, September 20th, 6-9 p.m., there will be a Recognition Celebration concluding the first Peace Convergence and the monthly Culture of Peace Series. Honored will be the sector facilitators from the Convergence, the presenters from the Culture of Peace Series, and the people who attended the majority of the monthly Series.
The evening will begin with a potluck supper at 6 p.m. in the small auditorium at the IMAN Center.
About two weeks after the Peace Sunday Festival the special meeting will be held to begin the ongoing body of organizations and individuals who choose to form a “Security Council” to take cooperative actions as needed during the coming year.
May peace prevail on earth!!!
Many people feel that they have been given spiritual guidance at one level or another, and those areas of guidance need to be tested to see if they are valid. I am also open to such examination as well.
My guidance has remained clear and consistent for many years. There was a time when I told people about my guidance, but few people took it very seriously. For that reason I stopped talking about it and decided to let my actions speak for themselves. I believe that part of the reason people did not pay much attention to my guidance was the way in which I presented it at that time. I am now making every effort to present it in a way that can be accepted.
I make no claims of infallibility, nor do I claim that I am the only one who has guidance that is relevant. In fact, I would encourage anyone who is given such understandings and insights to speak up and let others know what is happening. What I do claim is that these areas of guidance are true, and that they have remained steady throughout my life since they were originally given. They have expanded with the passage of time, but they have not gone away or reversed themselves.
Now, at my advanced age, I find that people are generally paying more attention than at earlier times, and a number of awards have been given to me or to our organization as a result. However, sometimes the visions of others have been substituted for what I have been given, generally without recognition or acknowledgement of the change.
I therefore proclaim that I have been given a basic understanding of the essential moral and spiritual teachings for the coming global civilization, as well as their extensions into all areas. These were given some years ago, but they have stayed with me throughout my life, along with the additional understanding from the work being done during the intervening years.
What has developed during these years is an interfaith movement, the first step of which
Is an ever-expanding mutual respect and dialog among the major religions of the world. This time period has also given birth or recognition to newer religions that previously were not considered worth including. However, some individuals and institutions are still persecuting followers of both the new religions and, in some cases, the major ones as well.
What is yet to come is the opening up of the scriptures of the world to the new teachings and the gradual establishing of the scriptures that are central to the emergence of the global civilization into a scriptural document. My version is called World Scriptures, which includes the world’s scriptures in brief, plus some of the more recent religions. More recently World Scriptures, Volume 2, was put together, although the writings go back to the writing of World Scriptures, The second book focuses on what is yet to come. A third book is entitled Science and Spirituality, which contains short readings from many sources plus documents that support the globalization of our society.
In addition, new forms of worship and architecture need to be created that allow for the new understandings to be expressed. One of my areas of guidance in this regard has to
do with the design of places of worship. Imagine a sanctuary being a place which, when you enter it, gives the awareness of walking into the universe, a sacred place of beauty and creativity, in which the music, art, and the whole atmosphere inspire us to be who we truly are at our best. Imagine a service of worship that draws upon all paths and all moral and spiritual teachings that help us to live in a world of unity in the midst of the world’s great diversities of race, religion, and culture.
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Most people who have areas of spiritual guidance tend to be limited to a single area of such guidance. My guidance has been different in that regard, and perhaps as a result it may have been hard to categorize. In this message, I have been led to express all of the major areas of guidance that I have been given, so that they can be considered in their fullness and breadth. You can then decide if they are related, or if they are totally separate and unrelated.
I have been fortunate to have visited the United Nations both in New York and in Geneva, Switzerland. I have also had a number of contacts with people involved with the United Nations Associations in Southern and Northern California. I chaired the committee which put together a Festival of Faith in 1956 in Claremont that had an attendance of more than 2,000 people. All of the major religions were represented at that event, as well as having two political leaders as keynote speakers.
It has been my firm conviction since coming to California in 1955 that there must be a peoples’ equivalent of the United Nations, probably with its headquarters in the greater Los Angeles area but extending around the world. Our annual Peace Sunday is becoming a kind of showcase for that development, and especially as the Peace Convergence that accompanied Peace Sunday in 2012 created a Culture of Peace Series that has been meeting monthly on the different aspects of peace. Our Unity-and-Diversity Peace Wheel shows the relationship of these sectors and quadrants that highlight the different sectors and yet show how they are all related. Democracy is based on government of the people, by the people, and for the people; therefore, it is up to the peoples of the world to shape the various forms of democracy and then invite government leaders to serve them, rather than the other way around.
Let me be more emphatic as to what my guidance is on this matter. The United Nations has an important work to do to serve governments and see that they cooperate in helping to establish a global community at a governmental level. However, it remains to the peoples of the world to create a separate but cooperative body of individuals, groups, and networks to organize the peoples of the world. There are huge numbers of mostly nonprofit organizations now doing some very important work in this regard. What remains to be developed is a body similar to the United Nations that brings together the nongovernmental aspects of society to cultivate the moral and spiritual dimensions of the global society and also all of its other aspects. World peace, in my opinion, will only be possible when the religions of the world come together in cooperation, and that they in turn will help the larger “united peoples” organization to bring all aspects of society into a Peoples Assembly and Specialized Affiliates to carry on the intergroup work of the global community.
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Another area of guidance that I have received is in the realm of music. After having studied with the first and second chair trumpet of the Boston Symphony, having had my own dance band at the University of Michigan, having been in the concert and marching bands at the University of Michigan as well as Harvard Orchestra, I was given a special kind of music that I have been developing ever since. It is like jazz in a way, yet it is more sacred than jazz and it has a more flexible rhythm than jazz does. I see that it has a special place in the development of interfaith places of worship, and I trust that it will also have a place in the more general realms of music. It will need to create its own groups of musicians who can play this music, which I call Creative Music, since there needs to be room for the individual soloist and for other musicians who can also be creative. To my knowledge, this type of music is just beginning to emerge, but it certainly has a place in the culture of the coming civilization. The trumpet is my instrument, and I have been playing this kind of music for many years.
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One of the very misunderstood areas of our society is the family. My guidance in this regard is that the family is a very important part of our American society and all other societies throughout the world. The nature of the family is changing, one of the latest changes being homosexual partners becoming married. The family is the most intense kind of group relationship, and it is especially important because the raising of children is involved. Children deserve a stable home, and two parents if possible to help in their development. I studied about the family with a most outstanding family sociologist at Harvard University, Carle Zimmerman, who pointed out that there is an almost exact parallel between the success of the family and that of the civilization as a whole.
Recently I wrote a message entitled “Women Are More Than Sex Objects”, and I got more response to that message than anything I have ever written. Our society is now deeply involved in the sex revolution, and the moral standards related to sexuality are way out of proportion. It is true that sexuality plays an important part in relationships, especially in the beginning stages, but restraint is also important. There must be a balance between sexuality and the other aspects of a relationship, or the relationship is not very likely to last. Getting married is important as a commitment to the continuity of the relationship, and it also needs a commitment to caring for any children that may be involved (whether planned or not). This whole subject is a very important part of my guidance, but until now I have not said much about it.
As an indication of my commitment in this area, I was married to Elizabeth Elliot Stewart for fifty-six years. Elizabeth died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.
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Finally, a very clear and powerful part of my guidance has been and is related to the Holy Day Season at the end of the year, which traditionally centers around Christmas, and to some extent Hanakkah. Since 1958 the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has been developing interfaith events that represent the evolving nature of that time of the year. Before Christianity was born, the mystery religions celebrated at that time of the year. After Jesus’ life and death, early Christians needed to decide when Jesus’ birth was to be celebrated. Since he was not born in December, it took a long time before Christians could agree to choose December 25th. Now, with the coming of democracy, there is an increasing need to choose the most powerful time of the year for the celebration of all paths coming together. We are now calling this special event the Interfaith Celebration of Light, and this year we had two sponsoring organizations and twenty-two co-sponsors who came together to share in this powerful occasion.
Spirit is One; paths are many!!!
I believe we will have better government when men and women discuss public issues together and make their decisions on the basis of their common concern for the welfare of their families and their world.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Science and Spirituality, page 144
Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, points out that the world is currently going through a major change. The essence of the change is that the United States is no longer going to be the one super power, but that the countries of the world are coming into greater power and are demanding that their rights be included in the decisions facing the human race. An example of that change is the decision of President Putin of Russia to keep whistle-blower Edward Snowden there, and that Putin also asked the USA to stop practicing exceptionalism, meaning that we Americans consider ourselves better than people of every other nation.
Not only are the other nations coming up in the global community, but the United States currently is going down in the estimation of many other peoples, and in our nation as well. The government shutdown and the struggle over the increase in the debt ceiling were responsible for a major shift financially speaking, where the US is losing its role as the financial stabilizer of the world. We need to stop printing bills for money we do not have, as well as to begin to live within our income. It may take a worldwide nonviolent movement to make this change, but democracy requires more balanced economies and negotiation to see that everyone has a voice in getting needed changes made.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was led by various Christian churches under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King. Now the leadership must come from the Interfaith Movement through a coming together for nonviolent action that is worldwide. The Interfaith Movement is beginning to recognize the need for inner and outer change, and now we must step forward and take the action steps required to see that change is in fact made possible.
Who is ready for this courageous step forward, and where is this spirit most being manifest? The time has come, as we await the responsibility of the U.S. government to act for the well-being of the American people and the nations of the world.
Spirit is One; paths are many!!!