Some of the Workshops and Activities in Bad Homburg, Nov 2019
Photos by Ryan McGinn
TIKKUN OLAM— MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
I came to this workshop with an open mind and attracted by curiosity. What is Tikkun Olam?
As Shulamit explained, it was first used to refer to social action work in the 1950’s, and the original Judaic ideal was included in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and subsequently Jewish mysticism, liberal and renewal movements. Tikkun Olam concerns continuing the evolving creation of the world by sustaining and caring for it and all that dwell upon it.
Humankind has the gift of intelligence and therefore carries the responsibility of stewardship — to improve what we can for the benefit of all, maintain mutual respect and repair injustice in our communities. This is the heart of being an active Jew.
Today Tikkun Olam can be assimilated with social action and charity.
Do good deeds for yourself, your families, neighborhood, region, country, and the earth. Begin with the self and radiate outwards. We are an interconnected, interdependent web of life. Sounds like the UU 7th principle!
Thank you, Shulamit, for presenting such an insightful, historically researched and documented workshop…and sharing it with us. This is Tikkun Olam.
– Aude van Lidth de Jeude
BUILDING THE LABYRINTH
Walking the labyrinth is such a wonderful meditation and contemplation tool. It’s playful and meaningful. A perfect addition to our UU retreats.
I was excited to hear that John Keating would be at the retreat again building a labyrinth. I had such great memories of earlier labyrinths that I was determined to be part of the creating process.
We met at the space. John had some string in his hand — claiming this was the master measure. The room was a bit small, so John adjusted his measure to an 8-tier labyrinth instead of the official Chartres 11-tier labyrinth. I was amazed to see the labyrinth take shape under our hands — within about 1.5 hours, we had made the labyrinth and transformed the room.
We started with rays of little blue pieces of tape at regular intervals on the blue carpet. Then we created the turns and the entrance and exit. Then it became a matter of connecting dots and learning to curl your tape. The entire process was magical.
And then you walk, you take the path. Follow the loopings to the center and back out. The process brings me valued insights, a moment of introspection, a time to turn inward. And yet John has also taught me to make space for the playful side of walking the path. Children like to run or skip it. Hmm, so similar to life — good not to get too serious.
And when you are in the labyrinth with several people, it becomes a dance. You meet each other along the way, come together and separate again. Another metaphor for the path of life.
I loved watching people walk it and I loved to walk it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
So, thank you, John, for this beautiful gift to all of us.
If you want to know more about labyrinths — John Keating has a website for more labyrinth resources: https://hiddenwing.weebly.com/the-labyrinth-as-a-spiritual-tool.html
– ChrisTina Tomlow-de Muinck Keizer
ZOROASTRIANISM: THE HIDDEN SOURCE OF UU
led by Derek Suchard
The workshop began with a short history of Zoroastrianism, starting with the foundational tale of Zoroaster having a divine vision of a supreme being while partaking in a pagan purification rite at age 30. Zoroaster began teaching followers to worship a single god called Ahura Mazda.
An overview of the basic tenants of Zoroastrianism and the linguistic migration of Proto-Indo-European religious terms was displayed in a handsome pie chart. Zoroastrianism eventually became the state religion of Persia and was widely disseminated until replaced by Islam. It still survives today based principally out of India. But there are small communities of Zoroastrians throughout the world. If you saw Bohemian Rhapsody, you know Freddy Mercury was a Parsi (good thoughts – good words – good deeds).
Aspects of potential influences of Zoroastrianism during the Jewish Babylonian exile were discussed. In the Christian biblical texts, it is interesting to note that Zoroastrianism is the only other religion, in an area of the world with many religions, mentioned. The visit of the Magi (“We three Kings of orient are…”) in Mathew is a direct reference to Zoroastrian holy men. The representation of hell in the Christian texts (Revelations) is far closer to the Zoroastrian vision than the Jewish representations of the fate of the non-righteous.
As always, a wide-ranging discussion followed the more formal presentation. The workshop was well attended and well received.
– Chris Heinrichs
LIFE CAFÉ: OUR UU FAITH IN EUROPE
led by Jane Robertson
We were five participants sitting around our table: one American, two Germans and two French persons. We talked about our experiences and problems in a fellowship without a regular minister or being At-Large when English is the only language.
We encountered four difficulties that we hoped to resolve.
- When English isn’t our mother tongue, it is often difficult to express our feelings, what we have at heart.
- When you don’t have a minister in your Fellowship or are an At-Large member, it is not easy to have training about our “religion”, to understand and go deeper in our faith. Books and websites in which there are a lot of resources aren’t the same as discussions and exchanges face to face.
- The time we gather is too short to establish deeper relationships and fellowship.
- When we talk with German or French people about UU and our experiences with UU, many of them are interested in our UU approach to spirituality. But they refrain from visiting a retreat or participating at a service because of the language barrier.
For these different reasons, we feel that our personal spiritual experience is too weak. In the morning session during the theme talk, Rev Thandeka made clear that our ”spiritual experience needs the feel, the feeling, and the emotions, …. otherwise it can actually be counterproductive, and sterile.”
We want the real possibility to experience and to celebrate UU spirituality more often in a fellowship near by and in the language of our country.
When talking about changing the name of EUU to UUs in Europe, the Germans attendees feared and cautioned that it would focus on Expats in Europe. In consequence, the new name would make it more difficult for “native” Europeans to feel included and to identify with UU. And, of course, it would seriously harm our good will intentions of giving the opportunity to persons in Europe to experience UU Spirituality and to identify with our faith.
Conclusion And Recommendation To EUU
For these reasons, and even many more, we strongly recommend that EUU rethink fundamentally how we wish to grow in Europe so as to give access to our faith to all persons everywhere in Europe, whatever their language and their nationality.
– Denise Blanc
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION for RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (IARF), NEEDED FOR OUR WORLD
led by Wolfgang Jantz
Wolfgang gave us the history of the IARF. It has been around for 100 years and has played an important role in promoting interfaith dialogue and religious freedom. There are more than 70 member organizations in 25 countries, speaking more than 20 languages, representing faith traditions from the four world regions. It should be noted that IARF accepts individual membership (which is still not the case in ICUU).
The IARF has made a difference in many regions with religious tensions. For example, it supported the peace dialogue between Catholics & Protestants in Northern Ireland. It has engaged in many activities around the world to initiate dialogue, understanding, and trust among people of different faiths.
The IARF welcomes everyone at its congresses held once every 4 years. They give participants an excellent opportunity to discover the many faith traditions from around the world. There will be an IARF European conference in Belfast in August 2020.
The need for religious tolerance and freedom has never been greater. The IARF intends to grow in members and diversity, to create programs to develop mutual awareness and acceptance by faith traditions everywhere. Its need for resources is immense to continue holding its congresses and many meetings and activities around the world. The IARF is our lighthouse for peace, liberty and tolerance. It is our lighthouse for religious freedom and human rights. It deserves our energetic support.
For more information about the IARF, write to Wolfgang at jantz @ t-online.de.
– John Eichrodt