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Dining at the Smorgasbord of World Religions

“Honestly, I had no idea there were so many religions in the world. What I want to know is why that is.”


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Religiosity is the innate human capacity for meaning making. Its primary tools are art, music, dance, story, myth, ritual, and contemplative practice. Religiosity is dynamic, fluid, and evolving, pointing us toward ever greater levels of consciousness and ever wider circles of compassion. Religion is the organizational structure that transmits past expressions of human religiosity to future generations. Over time religiosity’s dynamic, fluid, and evolving nature becomes ossified in religion’s penchant for hierarchy, continuity, power, and control. While religiosity is always about imagining tomorrow, religion is almost always about replicating a no less imagined yesterday. It is with this understanding (some might call it bias) that I attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto. The original Parliament was a one-time event held in conjunction with the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A century later it roared back to life and continues to flourish as a gathering place for thousands of people committed to interfaith harmony. At the Parliament interfaith harmony doesn’ …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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