By the time you read this, the first day of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne will have ended (there’s quite a large time difference for those of us in America), and the first reports from journalists abroad will be tricking in. I urge all of you interested in this massive (over six thousand people) interfaith event to keep an eye on the Pagans at the Parliament group-blog as initial reports and observations from Pagan participants and delegates get posted.
Anna Korn, Donald Frew, and River Higginbotham at the Parliament. Photo by Ed Hubbard.
I’ve gathered some initial thoughts and pre-Parliament musings from Pagans heading to Melbourne on the importance of our participation. Starting with Thorn Coyle’s blog, where she shares her hopes for what she will experience, and why she came.
“Here is a preliminary answer: I am hoping for some magic. I have come to Melbourne, and we representatives of Solar Cross have come here, because religious pluralism is important. This parliament is a gathering, I hope, in which people of different religious beliefs will share ideas and meals with one another. This gathering, I hope, is one in which mutual respect can be fostered even in the midst of basic disagreements. There is work to be done here. There are conversations to be had. There are things to be learned.”
Meanwhile, Ed Hubbard from MagickTV and Pagans Tonight is already posting photos and video from Australia, but before that, he explained why our presence and active role in this year’s Parliament is so vital.
“Yet, for me, the greatest reason for Pagans to attend is to demonstrate bravery and courage. By being present at this world-class event is to say that Pagans are not afraid of what others think of our beliefs, that we will no longer hide them out of fear of persecution, and that the Pagan ideals have value. By attending, Pagans are claiming equality and a right to openly practice; not by demanding them, but by demonstrating we can take responsibility to participate in the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Our attendance and subsequent actions as a community shows that we are ready to become a active and cooperative force for creating good in the world. This is why I feel this is important to the Pagan community and why I am truly humbled and awed to be attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions.”
The Pagan Newswire Collective-sponsored Pagans at the Parliament project won’t be the only place to receive updates, reflections, and thoughts regarding this event. Circle Sanctuary has set up the Circle Interfaith News blog for updates from their delegation, Spiritual Resources, in association with Interfaith Center at the Presidio, will be doing live web-casts, C.O.G. has their COG Interfath Reports blog (New post up by Don Frew, check it out!), and EarthSpirit has the EarthSpirit Voices blog, where EarthSpirit founder Andras Corban Arthen discusses his work within the Indigenous Task Force.
“The Indigenous Task Force named me as one of the speakers for the European traditions, and gave me the task of finding others to bring to the Parliament. The first person I invited was Jonas Trinkunas, krivis (chief high priest) of Romuva, the pagan religion of Lithuania. I have known Jonas for a long time, and in 1997 he attended our annual Rites of Spring celebration. He is quite a remarkable man, who has maintained his ancestral tradition alive in spite of opposition not only from the Catholic church, but also from the Soviet Union during its occupation of his homeland. I am glad to report that Jonas readily accepted the invitation.”
That’s just the beginning of the flood of news and information that’s expected! In the coming days I’ll be doing my best to give you all an ongoing overview of the various reports and reflections here at The Wild Hunt, and I’ll also be arranging some audio interviews with folks in Australia that I plan to post as well. So stay tuned! Also, for those who want to experience the Parliament more directly, they have set up their own social networking site called PeaceNext. Pagans there and abroad are already signing up, so check that out if you are interested in interfaith interactions. This is shaping up to be a historic event for modern Pagans within the context of global interfaith relations, and I’m excited about what the coming days will bring.