Can the world’s religions agree on a definition of God, let alone share a theology of the oneness of the Earth? Like it or not, conversations at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR) turned toward the urgency of the Copenhagen talks that began today. The Melbourne event might be a remote extravaganza Down Under, but it wasn’t one without awareness of world politics. In the midst of everything else unexpected for Youth Media Project, the Parliament’s media liaison guru, Jenny Douglas, turned to Team Santa Fe to cobble together a short documentary. The hope was that Martin Frick, the esteemed climate change scientist on hand here as a keynote, might carry with him to Copenhagen a compelling message from Parliament participants.
On Saturday, I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sakena Yacoobi of Afghanistan. She wore a black head covering and a dress covered with beautiful, colorful beaded embroidery. Dr. Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning, an Afghan women-led NGO that has helped provide teacher training to women to help support the education of young boys and girls.
I was almost shut down by a guy from Bali earlier today. I asked him what religion he was from and he said that religion should not be the question, but the answer. People should keep their religion very close and intimate to them without sharing it with the world, because when the world realizes what religion they belong to they are profiled and judged right off the bat. It doesn’t matter if the person was good or bad; now they are condemned for praising their God.
As I walk the streets of downtown Melbourne, Australia, I ask myself what is it exactly that I am looking for at the Parliment of World Religions? I don’t know, at least not yet. I realize that I don’t know what the hell I am supposed to do. I didn’t know how much this conference would overwhelm me. I just find myself lost, confused in this tossed salad of religions (the jetlag doesn’t help the case either).
Thursday night was the opening ceremony. The jetlag had set in and I could barely keep my eyes open. On Friday morning Carmen and I experienced something that made the world feel very small (in a good way). We went to breakfast at a little cafe near the hostel where we are staying. It was good food but coffee in this town is crazy expensive, 3 dollars for a cup of plain black coffee. We sat down near a couple also attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions, spotting their giant, 400-page programs (that Carmen calls the Bible).
YOUTH MEDIA PROJECT is winging it's way to Melbourne, Australia. A team of 3 YMP youth from Northern new Mexico schools was selected to be the first youth media group to ever cover events at the Parliament of the World's Religions 8,000-person global conference. The student team will create radio compositions about interfaith issues to be broadcast globally and will try for an interview with his Holiness the Dalai Lama.