Tuesday, April 25, 2006
This weekend (between chasing clues) I went to a Focolare meeting. I was assigned the story by NUVO because 1) it was an interfaith event, and I am sort of their religion beat reporter, and 2) because Warith Deen Muhammad was coming and, obviously, as a Muslim, I would be excited to meet him.

I had never heard of Focolare, and in fact at first thought it had something to do with Folktales and story telling (Folkolore) or singing (Vocolary). As it turns out Focolare (which means hearth in Italian) is a Catholic organization, started by an Italian woman named Chiara Lubich. During WWII, Chiara began thinking about war and peace during the bombing of Italy and she became very convinced that we must start living Biblical commands to unity, both among Christians and between Chrisitans and peoples of other faiths. Focolare, then is dedicated to bringing people together. The methodology, though, is a bit different than other interfaith groups which discuss theology; this one focuses on a "dialogue of living" -- sharing stories, food, song, experiences, and spending time together to get to know one another as people, not just as spokespersons. In way, I was right about the folklore and the singing -- there were a lot of tales shared, and music was woven throughout the day.

The people attending were just lovely people, all around. Lots of Italian Catholics and black Muslims. One of my favorite parts was when an imam from Milwaukee talked about how this gathering showed people who could not get past nationalism how people from different countries could come together in peace and love, showed people who couldn't get past skin color or gender, how men and women, blacks and whites could come together in peace and love, and showed people who couldn't get past beliefs how people of different faiths could come together in peace and love.

Sad to say, there were very few Muslims who weren't black there. I may have been the only one for all that goes. And, oddly enough, though they announced the event at my home masjid, they didn't mention that Warith Deen Muhammad was coming. Not that that should make a difference, whether or not he came the event was very much worth attending, but any other major American Muslim figure and they would have let people know. Odd, odd.

Anyway, I'm glad I got assigned to the story. I'm planning on keeping in touch with the Focolare people. I was very impressed with the loving-kindnesss that permeated the room.

And, yes, I did get to meet Warith Deen Muhammad and interview him. Now that's cool!
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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