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The center for_inter-spiritual_dialogue (06-28-2012 0357 pm)

  1. 1. The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue ‘Ohono pono, In Hawai’i, “beautiful, responsible family” is known as ’Ohono pono,. Hawaiian ”pono” is a learned trait passed from elders to younger generations. It has to do with being responsible for oneself and not judging others. It is about trying to find lessons and meaning in circumstances that make their way into one’s life. A ‘right attitude’ is also about not forcing anything, be it will, beliefs or anything else onto others. Being in “a Beautiful Family of Living Peoples”, can be symbolized by the sun and its rays. The sun always is in the sky as a reminder to people that it is always there-- bright, brilliant and strong. We can emulate our living sun by being in right attitude, beautiful and responsible to ourselves, our beautiful family, and to the families of people around the globe. Mahalo to Jason Alden for his artistic depiction…. Document and Program authored and directed by: • Jonathan Dunnemann, B.A., Program Director: The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue • Nancy Hansen Zuschlag, M.A., Director/CEO: TRUE NORTH-Green Triangle International- Representing World-Native-Diverse Cultures for Arts, Music, and Youth Environmental Education & Promotions • Michael Poutiatine, PhD., Adjunct Assistant Professor: Gonzaga University Leadership Master's Faculty 2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures © UNESCO
  2. 2. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” Acknowledgements: All of the authors named in this paper have made equal contributions to the development of the ideas presented in this manuscript. We consider this a collaborative effort and want all authors to share equal credit for this project. Correspondence: Please direct all correspondence to the first author. Jonathan Dunnemann, B.A. The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD) 110 White Road Lakewood, NJ 08701 Phone: (732) 364-0483 Mobile: (848) 525-7346 Email: Written June 8, 2009 “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 2
  3. 3. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” About Us The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD) is a grassroots religion neutral, educational training, community development, and volunteer service organization. Its goal is to share knowledge about individuals and their beliefs in a way that lessons fear, “spiritual narcicism” (Ferrer, 2009), and the tendency of religious traditions to look down upon one another, each believing that their truth is more complete or final, and that their path is the only or most effective one to achieve full salvation or enlightenment. CISD “fosters both an overcoming of self-centeredness and a fully embodied integration that makes us not only more sensitive to the needs of others, nature, and the world, but also more effective cultural and planetary transformative agents in whatever contexts and measure of life or spirit calls us to be” (Ferrer, 2009). CISD promotes the Eight Articles of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and the resolutions on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief adopted by the General Assembly and by the former Commission on Human Rights. Additionally, CISD fully supports “The Principles of a Global Ethic” as described by the Parliament of the World’s Religions and addressed by Leonard Swidler in his article, “TOWARD A UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF A GLOBAL ETHIC.” According to Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko, formerly the Director of the Program “Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation” of the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, Switzerland, “Inter-religious relations and dialogue are meant to help free religion from …misuse, and to present opportunities for religious people to serve together as agents of healing and reconciliation”. • CISD does not affiliate with any church, mosque, synagogue or other religious or spiritual place. Moreover, CISD does not conduct any religious activities, prayer practice, or specific attendance at religious services as part of its day-to-day programming. • CISD affirms a number of spiritual principles, teachings, or values endorsed by all religious traditions as articulated by the late Christian author Brother Wayne Teasdale (1999) who offered its most compelling articulation in terms of a “universal mysticism” grounded in the practice of “interspirituality” or “the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions” (p. 26). • CISD holds out the prospect that members of different religions can have co-current spiritual experiences through participating in each other’s religious rituals and ceremonies; the assumption is one need not be integrated in a particular religious way of life in order to achieve spiritual experiences through varying religious activities. • CISD views world religions as radically distinctive systems of meaning that organize the lives of those who live within them; there is no content to the category “religion,” other than as a placeholder. We can respect the distinctiveness of the organizing systems within which others live by deferring to them, allowing them to define themselves, and living a vibrant spiritual life ourselves. • CISD seeks to cultivate a fresh appreciation of religious diversity that avoids the dogmatism and competitiveness involved in privileging any particular tradition over the rest. • CISD encourages a “participatory approach to religion that seeks “to enact with body, mind, heart, and consciousness a creative spirituality that lets a thousand spiritual flowers bloom” (Ferrer, 2009). • CISD maintains that the "spiritual extends beyond the contours of any particular religion and our exploration of" it is intended to bring out its universal inner dynamic (O'Donohue, 1998). “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 3
  4. 4. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” “In the twenty-first century, a dramatic increase of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is motivating a worldwide search to find solutions to these problems. This is a challenge calling for enhanced dialogue by States and others; including consideration of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief for protection of and accountability by all religions or beliefs.” ( Additionally, CISD supports The World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995) core issues: eradication of poverty, promotion of full employment, and fostering social integration. (UNESCO) At “The 24th Special Session of the General Assembly, entitled “World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving social development in a globalizing world” was convened with three objectives: i) To reaffirm the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development; ii) To identify progress made and constraints encountered; iii) To recommends that concrete actions and initiatives be taken to further efforts towards full and effective implementation of the agreements reached at the Summit.” (UNESCO, 2002). UNESCO called upon by its Member States, through various General Conference resolutions and Executive Board decisions, makes specific contributions to poverty reduction – which is now the priority of the international development agenda – through the design of an appropriate long-term strategy. As President Barack Obama stated in Cairo, Egypt on June 4, 2009 “America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.” CISD works with groups and individuals from many religious and nonreligious perspectives that share a common vision to build trust, respect and moral character, by stimulating, and furthering spiritual community and education, and the training of volunteer spiritual mentors as community leaders with common ‘religious attitudes and practices’ (Pfandtner, 2009). Spirituality is not an attribute completely learned intellectually from theological, spiritual, and religious writings. Although the writings help to categorize experiences and to develop a concise set of items, spirituality must be experienced on a regularly basis by being lived and personally worn over an extended time and mastered through a series of progressive and uniquely arranged actions and steps. According to Dr. Larry Culliford (2002), “the primary Spiritual Care Practices – religious and secular” consists of the following: • Belonging to a faith or belief tradition and a responsible community • Ritual practices and other forms of worship • Pilgrimage, rites of passage and retreats • Meditation and prayer • Reading wisdom literature and scripture • Sacred music (listening to and producing it) including songs, spirituals, hymns, psalms and devotional chant • Selfless, compassionate action (including work, especially teamwork) • Other ‘secular’ spiritual practices, include deep reflection (contemplation), engaging with and enjoying nature, also aesthetic appreciation of the arts • Maintaining stable family relationships, marriages and friendships (especially those involving high levels of trust and intimacy) • Some types of regular cooperative group team activity (such as in some sporting and recreational clubs) involving a special quality of fellowship “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 4
  5. 5. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” • Social advocacy of Community Development and Improvement through a Collaboration • Contributing to the well-being of others in terms of long, happy, purposeful and meaningful lives – and agreed upon local, regional, national and international priorities (e.g. The Geneva 2000 Forum – Outcome Document initiative to reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by half by the year 2015.) “The spiritual is a ‘subjective experience’ that points to an orientation towards both an intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness. Answers to question such as the following come from this deep spiritual level of humanness: How do I relate to the divine, to evil and unhappiness, [humiliation] or loss, of guilt and shame? The answers that people give to these questions come from the deepest level of their humanity, their inner realm that is timeless, eternal, deeply profound, subjective, intangible as well as multidimensional. Spirituality symbolizes the human being’s quest for depth and values, and it describes how people relate their beliefs and actions towards a higher power, God, the Goddess and the Ultimate Mystery, to their own being and core values, and then expresses them in religious practices. In a sense, the spiritual dimension represents the mystical face of religion, the fountainhead of divinity, and the source and essence of the soul. (A. Abdool, F. Potgieter, J. L. vander Walt & Wolhunter, 2007) “[S]piritiual awareness can add a powerful and much-needed dimension whenever our human [and resource consumption] limits are reached. The spiritual approach fosters a positive attitude even in the most heart-rending situations. By focusing on both inner and external sources of strength, spiritual awareness encourages calm in the place of anxiety and hope in the place of despair.” (Culliford, 2002) A very useful guide provided through the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking (An International Resource Center in Support of Restorative Justice Dialogue, Research and Training is the “Twelve Steps of Personal Peacemaking” authored by Mark Umbreit in 2002. Please see this list included below. 1) Admit that conflict and violence within yourself and among your relationships consumes too much of your energy, creates stress, and leads to unhappiness. 2) Believe that a power greater than yourself can bring you strength and peace. 3) Make a commitment to connect with a higher power, as you understand it, whether this higher power be understood as God, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Mother Earth-Father Sky, The Divine, or whatever understanding brings you strength and peace. 4) Make an honest moral inventory of how you have contributed to conflict and violence in your personal relationships, your life in community, and as a citizen of your country and the world. Accept the fact that, often your best intentions result in unintended negative consequences upon other people. 5) Admit to your higher power, to yourself, and to others the exact nature of your contributions to conflict and to emotional or physical violence. 6) Focus more on the here and now. Slow down. Breathe deeply. Keep life and your conflicts in perspective. Become responsible for your feelings and behavior. 7) In a spirit of humility and compassion for yourself and all others, seek spiritual guidance in confronting your shortcomings, which may contribute to conflict and emotional or physical violence. 8) Make a list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make direct amends to all such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 9) Continue to be mindful of your actions and their effect on others, and when you have offended another, whether intentionally or not, promptly admit it and apologize. 10) Seek through prayer, meditation, and other self-care techniques, to gain emotional and spiritual strength (in the context of your specific religious or secular tradition). 11) Forgive those who may have offended you. Do not take things too personally. Remember that most people do not mean to offend, but that their actions (and yours) frequently lead to unintended negative consequences. 12) Commit to being an instrument of peace and healing among all those who cross your path in your life's journey. Do not hang onto resentment and anger. Let it go. Remember, the one who benefits the “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 5
  6. 6. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” most from forgiveness is the person who gives it. It can bring a renewed sense of freedom and energy to your life. Purpose The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD) Team’s mission is to increase “understanding and support for Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Furthermore, CISD actively supports the United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media and Civil Society and all persons by promoting and contributing to the establishment of international human rights standards that are essential to long-term solutions to conflicts based on race, religion, belief or worldview. CISD staff volunteer their time, establish personal bonds, impart knowledge about different religions, coordinate multicultural events, seek solutions to problems, share their spiritual wisdom, and assist in the intentional development of competencies that enable and equip youth as they prepare to cross over the adolescent threshold into adult roles and responsibilities. The volunteers receive 100 hours of formal classroom training in how to come along side youth in their pursuit of deep inner meaning and purpose in life. This entails directing them in the practice of authenticity, fairness, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, honesty, humility, individual autonomy, joy, perseverance, personal responsibility, trust and social equality irrespective of age, gender, race, culture, language and or background, to increase their resilience, spiritual edification, spiritual-ethical interconnectedness, transcendence through to practical solutions, self-respect, self-reflection on the sacred, introspection and mindfulness on life, and mortality. CISD programming is designed to foster an ethic of excellence (Berger, 2003), the mastery of life skills (i.e. respect for others, discernment, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, public speaking, a knowledge of one’s theological and spiritual tradition, through service and random acts of kindness) for youth to “thrive”. Those attracted to CISD feel vocationally called upon to work for a higher good, whether in service to a teacher, or an institution, or to charitable activities in the community, with no thought of personal gain. Another important objective for CISD is the removal of veils or obstacles that interfere with the harmonious and balanced development of youth’s behavior, judgment, attitudes and feelings. The activities offered through CISD provide an opportunity for participants to ‘grow’ to move beyond those ‘barriers’, ‘blocks’, ‘patterns’ or ‘habits’ associated with ‘dis-ease’ by making new connections. “So whether dis-ease has to do with the bad habits of the body (manifested as backaches, for example), emotional blockages or dysfunction (involving stress or anger, for example), or problems in relationships at home or at work (such as an inability to assert one’s needs or a sense of low self-esteem), the important thing is to move on or ‘grow’ by linking up more holistically with other aspects of life – in particular with the spiritual dimension. For the spirit is that in which all things come together, and in which each life reconnects with its deepest dimension (Heelas and Woodhead, 2005). “It is very important for students to be clear about this: culture itself is sacred, since it is the “religion” that assures in some way the perpetuation of its members. For a long time students of society liked to think in terms of “sacred” versus “profane” aspects of social life. There has been continued dissatisfaction with this kind of simple dichotomy, and the reason is that there is no basic distinction between sacred and profane in the symbolic affairs of men. As soon as you have symbols, you have artificial self- transcendence via culture. Everything that is cultural is fabricated and given meanings that do not represent its physical nature. Culture is in this sense “supernatural,” and all systemizations of culture have in the end the same goal: to raise men above nature, to assure them that in some way their lives count in the universe more than merely physical things count. (Becker, 1985) “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 6
  7. 7. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” “According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the Internet, “There is no consensus over whether or not either goodness or evil are intrinsic to human nature. Many religious and philosophical traditions claim that evil is an aberration that results from the imperfect human condition (‘The Fall of Man’). Sometimes evil is attributed to the existence of free will and human agency. Some will argue that evil itself is ignorance of truth (i.e. human value, sanctity, divinity). A variety of Enlightenment thinkers have alleged the opposite, by suggesting that evil is learned as a consequence of tyrannical social structures.” ( “The supernatural no longer dictates the political order of societies, but nonetheless, religious references are still to be found in a variety of forms in many groups and nations. In other words, whilst the major religious traditions no longer represent a force encompassing all aspects of political and social life, no public sphere is exempt from religion. For this reason, we can speak of religion as a “cultural phenomenon”. Few currently doubt that secularization is an irreversible feature of our societies, but it has acknowledged that it has not removed all traces of the religious experience and references from society. Such traces and references are identifiable in diverse and new forms. Today, the symbols and values associated with the great religious traditions are still part of the collective memory. A broad majority of people in many countries still claim to belong to a particular religion (even though more often than not this does not necessarily imply that they are practicing members). Secularization has undoubtedly led to a narrowing of the social scope of traditional faiths. However, many new religious or spiritual groups have sprung up at the same time. The major migration flows which have had an impact on most societies have highlighted more clearly than in the past the diversity of ways of seeing life and the world, rooted in the different systems of belief. Many sporadic or endemic conflicts around the world involve groups that identify themselves with specific religious labels.” (Milot, 2006) “An emerging approach in spirituality studies understands care, education and spiritual practices to be relational and enacted through discursive exchanges among participants within any shared context. Thus, practitioners are understood to be involved in complex discursive practices which involve – amongst others – polyphonic speaking about spirit. This interdisciplinary approach explores the influence of society, ideology, culture, rationality, and different epistemological paradigms on the notions of ‘spirituality’, [‘spiritual practice’], and ‘spiritual care’. Rather than seeking to determine the meaning of spirituality or spiritual care, it aims at fostering discourses about spiritual care and spiritual formation. This interdisciplinary approach was first pioneered by members of the Centre for Spiritual Studies ( at the University of Hull, United Kingdom (also cf. Frid, Bergbom & Frid 2000:695-703; McSherry 2000:passim; McCance, McKenna & Boore 2001:350-356; Hardin 2001: 11-18; Carson & Fairbarin 2002:15; Flick 2002:5-24).” “When David B. Barret, the main editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia (Barret, et al., 2001), was asked what he learned about religious change in the world after several decades of research, he responded with the following: “We have identified nine thousand and nine hundred distinct and separate religions in the world, increasing by two or three religions every day (cited in Lester, 2002, p.28).” “It is estimated that as much as 90 percent of the world’s population believe in a God, though the expressions of that belief are amazingly diverse.” “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 7
  8. 8. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” Religions of Today's World A geographic tally POPULATIONS OF THE WORLD ACCORDING TO RELIGION Latin Northern Africa Asia Europe Oceania WORLD % America America Baha'i 1,851,000 3,010,000 93,000 719,000 356,000 75,000 6,104,000 0.11 Buddhist 36,000 320,691,000 1,478,000 569,000 920,000 200,000 323,894,000 5.67 Mahayana, 56% . . . . . . 181,380,000 3.17 Theravada, 38% . . . . . . 123,080,000 2.15 Tantrayana, 6% . . . . . . 19,434,000 0.35 Chinese folk 12,000 224,828,000 116,000 66,000 98,000 17,000 225,137,000 3.94 religion Confucian 1,000 5,220,000 4,000 2,000 26,000 1,000 5,254,000 0.09 (non-Chinese) Christian 348,176,000 306,762,000 551,892,000 448,006,000 249,277,000 23,840,000 1,927,953,000 33.73 Roman Catholic, 50% 122,108,000 90,041,000 270,677,000 402,691,000 74,243,000 8,265,000 968,025,000 16.93 Protestant, 21% 109,726,000 42,836,000 80,000,000 31,684,000 123,257,000 8,364,000 395,867,000 6.93 Orthodox, 11% 29,645,000 1,4881,000 165,795,000 481,000 6,480,000 666,000 217,948,000 3.81 Anglican, 4% 25,362,000 707,000 30,625,000 1,153,000 6,819,000 5,864,000 70,530,000 1.23 other, 14% 61,335,000 158,297,000 4,795,000 11,997,000 38,478,000 681,000 275,583,000 4.82 Ethnic 72,777,000 36,579,000 1,200,000 1,061,000 47,000 113,000 111,777,000 1.96 Hindu 1,535,000 775,252,000 1,522,000 748,000 1,185,000 305,000 780,547,000 13.65 Vaishnavite, 70% . . . . . . 546,383,000 9.56 Shaivite, 25% . . . . . . 195,137,000 3.41 neo / reform, 2% . . . . . . 15,611,000 0.27 Jain 58,000 4,804,000 15,000 4,000 4,000 1,000 4,886,000 0.09 Jewish 163,000 4,294,000 2,529,000 1,098,000 5,924,000 91,000 14,117,000 0.25 Mandean 0 44,000 0 0 0 0 44,000 0.00 Muslim 300,317,000 760,181,000 31,975,000 1,329,000 5,450,000 382,000 1,099,634,000 19.24 Sunni, 83% . . . . . . 912,696,000 15.97 Shia, 16% . . . . . . 175,942,000 3.08 other, 1% . . . . . . 10,996,000 0.19 New religions 19,000 118,591,000 808,000 913,000 956,000 10,000 121,297,000 2.12 (founded since 1800) Parsee 1,000 184,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 189,000 0.00 (Zoroastrian) Sikh 36,000 18,130,000 490,000 8,000 490,000 7,000 19,161,000 0.34 Shinto 0 2,840,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 2,844,000 0.05 Spiritist 4,000 1,100,000 17,000 8,768,000 300,000 1,000 10,190,000 0.18 Other religions 88,000 98,000 443,000 184,000 1,068,000 42,000 1,923,000 0.03 Secular 3,000,000 875,349,000 134,415,000 18,528,000 26,720,000 3,462,000 1,061,474,000 18.57 “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 8
  9. 9. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” Agnostic / indifferent 2,573,000 701,175,000 94,330,000 15,551,000 25,050,000 2,870,000 841,549,000 14.72 Atheist 427,000 174,174,000 40,085,000 2,977,000 1,670,000 592,000 219,925,000 3.85 TOTALS 728,074,000 3,457,957,000 726,999,000 482,005,000 292,841,000 28,549,000 5,716,425,000 100.00 Latin Northern Africa Asia Europe Oceania WORLD % America America all Christian 348,176,000 306,762,000 551,892,000 448,006,000 249,277,000 23,840,000 1,927,953,000 33.73 all non-Christian 379,898,000 3,151,195,000 175,107,000 33,999,000 43,564,000 4,709,000 3,788,472,000 66.27 all religious 725,074,000 2,582,608,000 592,584,000 463,477,000 266,121,000 25,087,000 4,654,951,000 81.43 all secular 3,000,000 875,349,000 134,415,000 18,528,000 26,720,000 3,462,000 1,061,474,000 18.57 Data source: Encyclopædia Britannica Book of the Year 1996 PATTERNS (Revised 14 May 2001) If we examine modern-day religion in a global context, some interesting patterns come to light: • No religious group even comes close to enjoying a global majority. The largest single group, consisting of all the various Christian sects, is outnumbered two-to-one by non- Christians worldwide. • Christians vastly outnumber non-Christians in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. In Asia, however, where the majority of the world's population resides, non-Christians outnumber Christians more than ten-to-one. • Muslims are the second-largest religious group, and Hindus the fourth-largest. The Muslim population is perhaps the most evenly distributed about the globe, whereas 99 percent of the world's Hindu population is concentrated in southern Asia. • The third-largest group, making up almost one fifth of the world's population, comprises unbelievers and disbelievers. Secularists make up about 1/3 of Asians, 1/5 of Europeans, 1/8 of the population of Oceania, and 1/10 of people in the U.S. and Canada. They are most outnumbered in Africa and Latin America. • Though a minority in the U.S., Roman Catholics account for fully half of all Christians worldwide, Protestants and Anglicans together for only about a quarter. • Roman Catholics are the world's largest individual religious sect, yet they are slightly outnumbered by secularists. • Spiritual non-theists — e.g., Buddhists, Confucians, spiritists, etc. — number about twice those who classify themselves as atheists. If this number is added to the number of secularists, we find that the number of people who do not believe in a god in the conventional sense of the term make up between one fourth and one third of the world's population. Spiritual and secular non-theists together number more than any single theistic group except Christians. “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 9
  10. 10. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” “True religion is the life we live, not the creed we profess.” J.F. Wright Search Institute Statement Regarding Asset 19: Religious Community 1. The potential positive benefit of engagement in activities offered by religious institutions; As stated in Search Institute’s publication Developmental Assets: A Synthesis of the Scientific Research on Adolescent Development (Scales & Leffert, 2004), youth involvement in congregational activities is associated with enhanced communication, positive adaptation, increased sense of well-being, increased self-esteem, and increased life satisfaction. Search Institute analyses of data from the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey (which is used to measure Developmental Assets) also shows that religious involvement is correlated with higher levels of assets. Extensive examinations of this research can be found in “The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence” (Sage Publications, 2006). The positive impact of such involvement may be due to a variety of factors. For example, when involved in religious community activities, youth are likely to be supervised by responsible adults. They also are likely to experience support from caring and responsible peers and adults. In addition, their engagement in constructive activities (such as music, chanting, dance, devotional practices, teaching roles and service to others), gives opportunities to deepen pro-social values and learn new things about themselves that may enhance their identity. Strengthening of family bonds and communication may occur if young people and their families share such experiences. The survey question that measures Asset #19 asks, “During an average week, how many hours do you spend going to programs, groups, or services at a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious or spiritual place.” Neither the question nor the definition of this asset is intended to address a specific religious belief, prayer practice, or specific attendance at religious services. Instead, the question only attempts to measure the extent to which a youth is involved in activities. Involvement in religious community is probably important to young people for many different reasons. Certain youth may spend time participating in community service projects like feeding the homeless and/or sports activities, but rarely, if ever, attend services. For other youth it may be attendance at services or active participation in other aspects of a particular faith that is significant. A recent study examined the faith community as a source of social capital for young people. The researcher in this study, Pamela King, noted that “the faith community’s emphasis on social interaction, trustworthy relationships, and transmission of beliefs and values make it a potentially rich moral milieu that can contribute to the development of character in youth.” She found that religiousness appears to influence moral outcomes indirectly through these social capital resources. 2. The recognition of how individuals, as well as multiple institutions and socializing systems within a community, contribute to the well-being of children and adolescents is emphasized in the Framework of Developmental Assets which was designed as a framework for community mobilization. It takes a village to raise a child. - African Proverb “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  11. 11. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” “The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence” (Sage Publications, 2006) 40 Assets Middle – and High School Teens Need to Succeed Ages 12 to 18 Years Search Institute has identified the following key building blocks of healthy development that help young people [to] grow up caring and competent. These will serve as the pillars upon which “The Winds beneath Youth’s Wings: A Mentoring Program of Humility and Humanity” will be constructed. CATEGORY ASSET NAME AND DEFINITION EXTERNAL ASSETS Support 1. Family support – Family life provides high levels of love and support. 2. Positive family communication – Young person and her and his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek parent(s) advice and counsel. 3. Other adult relationships – Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults. 4. Caring neighborhood – Young experiences caring neighbors. 5. Caring school climate – School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 6. Parent involvement – Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the young person succeed in school. Empowerment 7. Community values youth – Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 8. Youth as resources – Young people given useful roles in community. 9. Service to others – Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week. 10. Safety – Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood. Boundaries and Expectations 11. Family boundaries – Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries – School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries – Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models – Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence – Young person has a friend that “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  12. 12. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” model’s responsible behavior. 16. High expectations – Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well. Constructive Use of Time 17. Creative activities – Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. 18. Youth programs – Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations. 19. Religious community – Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. 20. Time at home – Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do,” two or fewer nights per week. INTERNAL ASSETS Commitment to Learning 21. Achievement motivation – Young person is motivated to do well in school. 22. School engagement – Young person is actively engaged in learning. 23. Homework – Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day. 24. Bonding to school – Young person cares about her or his school. 25. Reading for pleasure – Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week. Positive Values 26. Caring – Young person places high value on being of service to other people. 27. Equality and social justice – Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty. 28. Integrity – Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs. 29. Honesty – Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.” 30. Responsibility – Young person accepts responsibility. 31. Restraint – Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs. Social Competencies 32. Planning and decision-making – Young person knows how to plan-ahead and make choices. 33. Interpersonal competence – Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. 34. Cultural competence – Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. 35. Resistance skills – Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. 36. Peaceful conflict resolution – Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently. Positive Identity 37. Personal power – Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.” 38. Self-esteem – Young person reports having a high self- “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  13. 13. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” esteem. 39. Sense of purpose – Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.” 40. Positive view of personal future – Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future. In comparison, youth surveyed in India indicated that being spiritual means being true to one's inner self (38 percent) and believing in God (33 percent). The research conducted through a series of methods: focuses on groups in 13 countries with 175 young people, individual interviews in six countries with 32 young people, and surveys in eight countries. The Search Institute's Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence is a global initiative committed to advancing scientific study of spiritual development in young people. The institute says it is an independent, non-profit, non-sectarian organization. To read more go to the Center's website: “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  14. 14. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” THE DIALOGUE DECALOGUE GROUND RULES FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS INTER-IDEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BY LEONARD SWIDLER Dialogue in the inter-religious, inter-ideological sense is a conversation on a common subject between people with differing views undertaken so that they can learn from one another and grow. The “Dialogue Decalogue” formulated by Prof. Leonard Swidler sets forth the ground rules for dialogue. FIRST COMMANDMENT The essential purpose of dialogue is to learn, which entails change. At the very least, to learn that one’s dialogue partner views the world differently is to effect a change in oneself. Reciprocally, change happens for one’s partner as s/he learns about oneself. SECOND COMMANDMENT Dialogue must be a two-sided project: both between religious/ideological groups, and within religious/ideological groups (Inter- and Intra-). Intra-religious/ideological dialogue is vital for moving one’s community toward an increasingly perceptive insight into reality. THIRD COMMANDMENT It is imperative that each participant comes to the dialogue with complete honesty and sincerity. This means not only describing the major and minor thrusts as well as potential future shifts of one’s tradition, but also possible difficulties that s/he has with it. FOURTH COMMANDMENT One must compare only her/his ideals with their partner’s ideals, and her/his practice with their partner’s practice. One does not compare their ideals with their partner’s practice. FIFTH COMMANDMENT Each participant needs to describe her/himself. For example, only a Muslim can describe what it really means to be an authentic member of the Muslim community. At the same time, when one’s partner in dialogue attempts to describe back to them what they have understood of their partner’s self-description, then such a description must be recognizable to the described party. SIXTH COMMANDMENT Participants must not come to the dialogue with any preconceptions as to where the points of disagreement lie. A process of agreeing with their partner as much as possible, without violating the “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  15. 15. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” integrity of their own tradition, will reveal where the real boundaries between the traditions lie: the point where s/he cannot agree without going against the principles of their own tradition. SEVENTH COMMANDMENT Dialogue can only take place between equals, which means that partners learn from each other—par cum pari according to the Second Vatican Council—and do not merely seek to teach one another. EIGHTH COMMANDMENT Dialogue can only take place on a basis of mutual trust. Because it is persons, and not entire communities, that enter into dialogue, therefore it is essential for personal trust to be established. To encourage this, always discuss less controversial matters before dealing with the more controversial ones. NINTH COMMANDMENT Participants in dialogue should have a healthy level of criticism toward their own traditions. A lack of such criticism implies that one’s tradition has all the answers, thus making dialogue not only unnecessary, and essentially unfeasible. The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn, this becomes impossible if one believes that their tradition holds all the answers. TENTH COMMANDMENT To truly understand another religion or ideology one must try to experience it from within, which requires a “passing over,” into another’s religious or ideological experience, even if it is only momentary. Dr. Swidler is Co-Founder, with his wife Arlene Swidler, in 1964 of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (and still the Editor), Founder/Director of the Institute for Interreligious, Intercultural Dialogue (1985),and Co- Founder/Director of the Global Dialogue Institute (1995), holds degrees in History, Philosophy, and Theology from Marquette University (MA), University of Wisconsin (Ph.D.) and Tübingen University, Germany (S.T.L.), was Visiting Professor at Graz (Austria), Hamburg and Tübingen (Germany), Nankai University (Tianjin, China), Fudan University (Shanghai), and Temple University Japan (Tokyo), University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). He has published more than 180 articles & 60 books, including: Dialogue for Reunion (1962), Jewish-Christian Dialogues (1966), Bloodwitness for Peace and Unity (1977), Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue (1978) From Holocaust to Dialogue: A Jewish-Christian Dialogue between Americans and Germans (1981), Buddhism Made Plain (1984), Religious Liberty and Human Rights (1986), Breaking down the Wall Between Americans & East Germans, Christians and Jews (1987), Catholic-Communist Collaboration in Italy (1988), After the Absolute: The Dialogical Future of Religious Reflection (1990), Death or Dialogue. From the Age of Monologue to the Age of Dialogue (1990), A Bridge to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue (1990), Human Rights: Christians, Marxists, and Others in Dialogue (1991), Muslims in Dialogue. The Evolution of a Dialogue over a Generation (1992), For All Life: Toward a Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic. An Interreligious Dialogue (1998), Theoria Praxis. How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Can Together Move from Theory To Practice (1999), The Study of Religion in the Age of Global Dialogue (2000). “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1
  16. 16. “The spirit of belongingness can create a culture of evolutionary stimulus to bring everlasting change in human consciousness (Swarup, 2009).” “Dedicated to promoting spiritual values and practices amongst youth through interfaith dialogue.” 1